The June Full Moon and Solstice

Hey, sky fans. Happy Sunday to you, and a happy Father’s Day, if you’re celebrating. I hope all you dads are having a great day. Thanks, dad or not, for taking time out of your day to check in here. June’s full moon is called the Strawberry Moon, thanks to all the strawberries that’ll be popping up everywhere, on shrubs and on supermarket shelves before you know it. I’ve also heard this one called the Honey Moon, but apparently, that’s a southern hemisphere nickname.

In an exciting twist, the June full moon this time around the block falls on the northern solstice; the first time those two things have lined up since 1967, so it’s pretty rare. This’ll help those of us in the north bring in summer. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, you’ll be enjoying the start of winter. It’ll look full tonight when you bring out the trash, but the Moon actually reaches peak fullitude tomorrow morning at about 7am, US Eastern. That’s the precise moment when it’s at opposition– when the Moon is directly opposite the Sun in the Earth’s skies.

Along with being the first day of summer in the north, the June solstice is also the longest day of the year. Since a full day is still about 24 hours, the summer solstice is also the shortest night of the year. So, you’re not going to be able to see this full moon very long, and you’ll have to be up kind of late to do it. Also, the Moon follows an opposite track than the Sun’s across the sky, and it’s at its lowest when the Sun is at its highest. You’ll notice it taking a sly, east-west shortcut, skirting lower to the horizon than you might expect.

Still, it’ll be a terrific sight. From here out, straight through the end of December, the days will be getting shorter and shorter. That’s right. The cannonball you’ll do tomorrow will be with the skies just a little closer to darkness than the belly flop you did today.

Oh, and don’t forget, the Moon is still hanging around Saturn and Mars. By now, it’s moved to Saturn’s east and forms a neat line along with the two planets. The bright star Spica in the constellation Virgo isn’t too far away.

I hope you have a great summer, everyone, and have a hot dog for me. Clear skies!

The Moon, Saturn, Mars, and Spica in the southern skies June 19, 2016

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