A rare ‘strawberry moon' is a must-see on the longest day of the year

- June 20th is the longest day of the year, and it’s also the day of a rare lunar coincidence that hasn’t happened in nearly 70 years.  During this once-in-a-lifetime event, the moon will rise at 8:21pm and set Tuesday morning at 6:58am. It will hit its peak fullness at 4:02am PT Monday, with 99.8% of the surface of the moon we see will be lit up. The moon is 238,800 miles away.

In the northern hemisphere, peak sunlight usually falls on June 20, 21, or 22 of any year.  Technically, the summer solstice occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer latitude. This year’s moment of the solstice will be exactly on Monday at 3:34pm PT.

Why is it called the ‘Strawberry Moon’? NASA says the name originates from the collection of strawberries by Native American Algonquin tribes, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Strawberry picking season peaks during this month.  Europeans also called this the 'Rose Moon' or 'Hot' Moon.

While the sun is high in the sky, the moon hangs low, which forces light through thicker air.  And if it’s humid, the combination of thick air and a low hang in the sky can give the moon an amber glow, which gives it a nickname of the ‘Honey Moon’.

South of the equator, the event is called the Long Night Moon, ironic for an occurrence which takes place around the time of the shortest night of the year.

And if you haven’t looked up lately, it’s an incredibly active sky! Jupiter and Mars are both prominent, and now Saturn has made its way into the evening mix. The best time for viewing Saturn is in June and July. The ringed planet will be at its brightest and in the sky all night long. This is because Saturn’s opposition was in early June.  Even though you can’t see Saturn’s rings with the naked eye, it will still appear as a bright golden star.

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