The summer solstice taking place on June 20 will also feature an additional treat — the annual strawberry moon. This is the first time in 49 years that the two events take place at the same time.
Strawberry moons earn their name from a knowledge among the Algonquin people that this moon signified that fruits, including strawberries, were ready to eat.
Although winter and summer solstices happen each year, having these events take place at the same time as a strawberry moon is fairly rare.
"Reliably, the phases of the moon recur on or near the same calendar dates every 19 years. It's the 'or near' that causes the full moon to miss the solstice on that 19th year, sometimes. Nineteen years from this year's solstice - on June 20, 2035 - the full moon will not fall on the same date as the June solstice. It'll be another near miss, with the full moon falling on June 20, 2035, and the solstice arriving one day later," Bruce McClure wrote for EarthSky.
This full moon will also be the fourth one seen since the winter equinox, whereas there are usually just three seen between the two dates.
"Stargazers looking to get an early view of the Strawberry Moon can head out on Sunday evening; however, the moon will not technically be 'full' until 7:02 a.m. EDT on Monday. People from western New York to Missouri may benefit from heading out on Sunday evening instead of waiting until Monday evening as a frontal boundary is forecast to spread clouds over these areas for the first night of summer," Brian Lada, Accuweather meteorologist, reports.
Although this is the first summer solstice to occur during a full moon, the winter solstice in 2010 was also accompanied by a full view of our companion satellite.
The strawberry moon is also known as the Honey Moon, Hot Moon, or Rose 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.
Lunar eclipses, when the shadow of the Earth falls across the face of our planetary partner, can only occur during a full moon. The next time a partial lunar eclipse will take place during a solstice will be in the year 2382, with a total eclipse due during the winter solstice in 2401. The full moon and June solstice will not take place on the same day again for 46 more years, on June 21, 2062.
Image: Ulrich Peters | Flickr