This Strawberry Solstice Moon Is the Last for 46 Years

Skywatchers won't see another full moon on a June solstice until 2062.

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The June full moon, also called the strawberry moon, shines on June 20.

Seen on the night of June 20, the full moon hangs like a plump berry near Saint Michael’s Tower on Glastonbury Tor, a famous hill in Somerset, England. While the moon was no bigger or brighter than normal, it was a rare sight nonetheless, because full moons don’t often coincide so closely with the June solstice.

This year the moon reached its full phase at 7:02 a.m. ET (11:02 UT) on June 20. About 12 hours later, Earth reached the official solstice, when the planet’s northern pole is tipped the most toward the sun.

In the Northern Hemisphere, this marks the start of summer, with the longest days and shortest nights of the year. In the south, the June solstice means winter has arrived.

Solstice moons are relatively rare, although when the last one graced your skies depends on your local time zone. In the U.K., the full moon and the solstice were separated by just a few hours on the morning of June 22, 1967, the dawning of what is widely called the Summer of Love.

The last time the two celestial events happened within an hour of each other was June 21, 1948. And lunar revelers will now have to wait until June 21, 2062 to see the next solstice moon. The full moon can also rise on the December solstice, but that won’t happen again until December 21, 2094, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

No matter what the moon is doing, Glastonbury Tor is a popular venue for solstice celebrations due to its historic and even mystical ties. Rising from otherwise flat meadows, the hill seems to have been in use as a religious center for at least 1,000 years. It has been linked to the Arthurian legend of Avalon, and Celtic myth considered it to be the home of Gwyn ap Nudd, king of the fairies.

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