A strawberry moon is not, somewhat surprisingly, a nod to the color that the sky turns or the moon itself when these rare occasions occur. A strawberry moon is when the moon is full on the longest day of the year, or the summer solstice. In 2016, that is occurring tonight and the moon will indeed be full.
Etymology of “strawberry moon”
Once again, strawberry moon is not a reference to the color of the moon or the sky though strawberry skies have surely occurred on strawberry moon occasions but that is owing to different meteorological factors namely clouds and often pollution. Los Angeles is one of the dirtiest cities in the United States due to its air quality but there is little denying that smog offers fantastic sunsets that rival any in the same United states.
The last strawberry moon occurred during the first day of the “Summer of Love” in 1967 and surely your reading of this means you read the news and, at the risk of stating the obvious, the world could use a little (or a lot of love) right now. Hopefully, this moon kicks off something a bit nicer than the war torn nations around the world and the vitriol coming out of cable news and Donald Trump among others.
The next is set to occur on June 21, 2076, so it may not be a “once in a lifetime event but I’m guessing this will surely be my last.
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According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the term strawberry moon comes from the collection of strawberries by strawberries by Native American Algonquin tribes.
The moon reached 100% fullness at 7:02 a.m (EDT) today, the evening solstice will come at 6:34 p.m. (EDT). Almost exactly two hours later the fully illuminated moon will begin its rise though with the as high in the sky as it is right now the moon will hang quite low in the same sky.
“Even at its loftiest at 1 a.m, it’s downright wimpy-low,” says Bob Berman of the Old Farmer’s Almanac. “This forces its light through thicker air, which also tends to be humid this time of year, and the combination typically makes it amber colored.”
And amber is not easily confused with a strawberry hue.
More on the solstice
Many teachers, at least where I was raised, simply said that the solstices and equinoxes occur on the 21st of December, March, June and September. This is certainly not the case and there are, like today variances.
While the date may change, the summer solstice, from the Latin solstitium meaning “sun stands still” means 17 hours of light as the sun stops heading towards the Tropic of Cancer, literally stops and turns back traveling south.
To show that the solstices certainly to vary, here’s a list of the dates and times of solstices and equinoxes this year.
- Vernal Equinox (Spring) March 20 2016 04:30 GMT
- Summer Solstice (Summer) June 20 2016 22:34 GMT
- Autumnal Equinox (Fall) September 22 2016 14:21 GMT
- Winter Solstice (Winter) December 21 2016 10:44 GMT
Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England will surely have its share of visitors tonight to observe this rare occurrence, perhaps more than it usually does.
Whether or not the solstice holds any meaning to you or not don’t fail to look to the heavens tonight for this “once in a lifetime” occurrence. They have a nagging tendency to only occur about once in a lifetime, it would be a shame to miss it.