How Often Is There A Full Moon On The Summer Solstice? 2016's Astrological Event Is Incredibly Rare
If you're into astronomy, you're in for a super cool treat tonight: Tonight's summer solstice coincides with the full moon. Not only that, but it coincides with a specific full moon called the Strawberry Moon. So how often is there a full moon on the summer solstice? Well, in the case of the Strawberry Moon, it's a once in a lifetime occurrence — literally. So break out those telescopes and get ready to turn your eyes to the sky!
The summer solstice occurs every year, typically in late June; in 2016, the summer solstice happens to be today, June 20. But don't worry! The most exciting part of today hasn't happened yet. Tonight, the June full moon — known as the Strawberry Moon — will also occur alongside the summer solstice. This doesn't happen very often, which makes it all the more exciting. According to the Baltimore Sun, a Strawberry Moon hasn't occurred during the summer solstice since 1948. More recently, in 1967, the summer solstice and the full moon occurred within a few hours of one another, but technically on different days and in different time zones.
Since it's the longest day of the year, the summer solstice usually results in a lot of amazing light — usually about 17 hours' worth. The sun rose around 4:45 a.m. this morning and will set around 10:34 p.m., making tonight the perfect night for an evening picnic or a walk around your neighborhood. If you're curious, the Farmer's Almanac can you fill you in on the exact length of your daylight, thanks to their handy online calculator and calendar. Also, I'm willing to bet you can get some killer sunset shots for your Instagram.
In layman's terms, the summer solstice happens when the sun reaches the Tropic of Cancer and ceases heading north, turning southward instead. According to National Geographic, the solstice officially starts at 6:34 p.m. EDT, the exact time the sun will be in the northernmost position in the sky, directly over the Tropic of Cancer. As the sun sets in the west, the moon rises in the east.
Of course, full moons happen fairly frequently, but it's the lovely combination of the Strawberry Moon and the summer solstice at the exact same time that makes tonight's event especially notable. Luckily for us, Slooh.com is streaming the Strawberry Moon and summer solstice live tonight, though it may be an event worth getting outside and viewing for yourself. For those who are curious, EarthSky.org estimates that this rare astrological event won't happen again until June 21, 2062. So get out your camera and find the place in your area to set up camp and check out that beautiful sky!