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'Strawberry Moon' to follow earliest summer solstice in 228 years

By Brian Lada, Accuweather.com
Thursday will end with a Strawberry Moon, the first full moon of summer. Pictured is a Strawberry Moon in 2023. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Thursday will end with a Strawberry Moon, the first full moon of summer. Pictured is a Strawberry Moon in 2023. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

A hot start to summer is about to unfold for millions across the United States, but after the sun sets and the temperature starts to drop, stargazers will be able to step outside and see the first big astronomical event of the new season.

The June solstice occurs at 4:50 p.m. EDT on Thursday, the earliest solstice in 228 years. The exact day and time of the solstice varies slightly from year to year, but the last time it happened this early was in 1796 when it took place at 1:45 p.m. ET on June 20.

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Across the Northern Hemisphere, Thursday will be the longest day of the year and mark the official start to astronomical summer. Meanwhile, areas south of the equator will experience the shortest day of the year, which coincides with the beginning of astronomical winter.

The changing of the celestial seasons will be quickly followed by one of June's top astronomical sights.

The first full day of summer will end with the first full moon of the season, one that has several names inspired by the flora, fauna and weather of June.

In North America, June's full moon is called the Strawberry Moon, as it is the time of year when strawberries ripen and are ready to be harvested. Other nicknames for June's full moon include the Hot Moon, the Hatching Moon and the Birth Moon.

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The moon may briefly look red or pink, similar to strawberries, shortly after it climbs above the horizon, before gradually transitioning to its typical white appearance. This color is not related to the moon's nickname but rather the effects of the atmosphere, the same reason why some sunrises and sunsets feature vivid colors.

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