Solstice Surprise: The Strawberry Moon And More Moons You Never Knew About

The official start of the summer season is today, June 20, and this year, we’re in for a solstice surprise, along with the promise of beautiful beach weather to come.

Taking a trip back to middle and high school science classes, the summer solstice is categorized as being the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, giving us a chance to enjoy the prospect of extra daylight (while celebrating the fact that for the next couple of months, the sun won’t be setting until well after 8 p.m.). The sun also hit the Tropic of Cancer, the highest possible point to the north.

Even better than that? There will be a surprise in the sky tonight after sunset that will be worth staying out on the porch for. As we previously reported, the sky will boast the first strawberry moon since 1967, a full moon that will be visible during the entire evening. It hasn’t fallen on a summer solstice since 1948.

The “strawberry moon” is a term reserved for a June moon, when Algonquin Indians began harvesting their strawberry crops.

Interestingly enough, ancient cultures and Native American tribes have also named the moons for other months in the year, as noted by National Geographic.

  1. January is known as the wolf moon. Wolves often howled at the full moon, prompted by the scarce food available during the winter, so Native Americans and medieval Europeans adopted the name.
  2. February is known as the snow moon, which is fairly self-explanatory. February is categorized by frigid, snowy weather in certain parts of the world.
  3. March is known as the worm moon because Native Americans noted the trails left in the dirt by worms as the ground began to thaw during spring’s approach.
  4. April is known as the pink moon, for a type of wildflower.
  5. May is known as the flower moon, for the season when flowers begin to make their appearance for spring.
  6. June is known as the strawberry moon.
  7. July is known as the buck moon. Buck are male deer, and their antlers return during this month after shedding.
  8. August is known as the sturgeon moon. Fishing tribes encountered this type of fish more often in the last weeks of summer.
  9. September is known as the harvest moon. Farmers began harvesting their crops around this time.
  10. October is known as the hunter’s moon, when hunters preferred to pursue certain types of game, like deer.
  11. November is known as the beaver moon, although the history behind this is somewhat divided. Native Americans often set traps for beavers, and the small animals also begin building winter dams as the cold season approaches.
  12. December is known as the cold moon, which is also self-explanatory. To reference Game Of Thrones: “Winter is coming.”

Check out a few photos from earlier tonight of the beautiful strawberry moon seen around the world below:

As previously mentioned, Slooh’s live stream of the strawberry moon is happening now from their Canary Islands observatory, where viewers will get a front row seat from their computers through one of the organization’s massive telescopes.

The live event will feature insights from two of Slooh’s astronomers, as well as guests from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, who are knowledgeable on some of the folklore behind both the summer solstice and the strawberry moon. Their last special guest for the broadcast is an astrophotographer, who will discuss his experiences with capturing full moons in photos. Be sure to tune in!

Even if you miss the solstice surprise strawberry moon tonight, it will be back to brighten your sky tomorrow night as well (albeit, in a slightly smaller form).

[Image via Shutterstock]