June 21st was the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, and if you’re feeling a little happier at the end of the week, science may explain why. The summer solstice are one of the happiest days of the year, and it’s all thanks to that sweet, sweet sunshine.
Philip Gehrman, associate director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania, says that people are generally more cheerful in the summertime.
Why? Light is the strongest cue when it comes to the body regulating circadian rhythms like the sleep cycle and hormonal fluctuations, more light is generally a good thing when it comes to improving your mood. I'm Sun addict for sure!
On the Summer Solstice, June’s waxing moon will reach its full lunar phase in the wee hours of June 28, kicking off a summer of celestial happenings. Stargazers are in for a treat since this full moon, known as the Strawberry Moon, also happens to arrive during Saturn opposition, meaning Saturn will be at its closest and brightest this year.
Strawberry Moon? Why?
Yes, the June Full Moon is called the Full Strawberry Moon. This Full Moon got its name from the Algonquin tribes who knew it as a signal to gather the ripening fruit of wild strawberries. This is a diverse group of tribes that covered the continent as far as California.
Algonquin couple, 18th-century watercolor by unknown artist
Courtesy of the City of Montreal Records Management & Archives, Montreal, Canada
The Strawberry Moon has different nicknames in different cultures:
- the Full Rose Moon (Europe)
- the Honey Moon (Europe)
- the Mead Moon (Europe)
- the Green Corn Moon,
- the Planting Moon,
- Birth Moon.
NASA illustration of how different Mars can look, depending on its distance to Earth
Summer will offer rare opportunities for stargazers. Events such as Mars opposition in late July will bring the red planet closer to Earth than it has been in 15 years, giving anyone with a telescope the chance to see Mars’ unique features more closely than usual.
The Strawberry Moon will be the season’s first celestial event visible to stargazers, and thanks to Saturn opposition occurring on the same night, it won’t disappoint.
So wherever you happen to be, don’t miss it!
The Strawberry Moon will share the spotlight with Saturn this year
This year’s Strawberry Moon, which marks the short harvesting season for strawberries, offers an exciting event for celestial sightseers. But this year, Saturn’s opposition will be visible until September.
“It’s the most colorful of all full moons,” Daniel M. Soref, Milwaukee Public Museum’s Theater & Planetarium director, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an interview published Monday. “We always get more color in the sky when things are lower.”
One thing to note is that the moon will also appear as a minimoon, which is difficult to notice with the naked eye but means the moon is at the furthest possible position from Earth. A minimoon happens when the moon is at its furthest point from Earth (called the apogee). It will appear just a tad bit smaller in the sky.
For the two celestial events to share a set time is a rare treat for stargazers, but it’s just the first of many cosmic happenings slated for this summer.