The first full moon of this spring season came early enough after the March 2016 equinox to allow for a fourth full moon to take place just prior to the summer solstice.
We had the equinox on March 20 and full moons on March 23, April 22, May 21 and now on June 20 at 11:02 Universal Time. The summer solstice will follow at 23:34 Universal Time. (That is 7:30 pm EDT – use worldtimeserver.com to convert time zones.)
Last year, we had a father’s day solstice that got me thinking about childhood summer and father memories. Thinking about summer and full moons sends my thoughts to nights on the beach when the full moon over the ocean looks bigger and more dramatic and gives soft light to the beach.
As we slide into summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the solstice (from the Latin solstitium, from sol-sun) and stitium- to stop), it’s a good day to stop ourselves and consider the season past and one ahead.
We now know that the Sun does not stop on the two solstices but simply crosses a path and “shifts” position at a moment in time. Do you observe the position of the Sun during the year? You probably don’t in as careful a way as I do or astronomers, but perhaps you notice that the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day now. Have you ever noticed in the morning that the sun rises in relation to your home and your windows from different places in winter and summer? From my usual morning coffee spot in the family room, the Sun is shining right on me in winter, but come summer it’s streaming in a window on the other side of the room.
On the summer solstice tomorrow, the Sun is directly overhead at its most northern point at “high noon.” There will be more sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere on this day than any other – even if it is cloudy or raining in your little corner of the world.
Why isn’t this also the hottest time of year? The atmosphere, land, and oceans are still cool from winter and spring and absorb part of the incoming heat and energy from the Sun. But as the land and, especially, the oceans release that stored heat later in the summer, that will bring us our hottest days and nights.