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Welcome, summer: Solstice, full moon make rare simultaneous appearances

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For those of us in the northern hemisphere, Monday marked the longest day of the year in terms of sunlight.

Which gives us a short night to observe the full moon.

The combination of a full moon and the summer solstice does not happen often.

According to EarthSky, the last time they coincided was in 1967 – and it won't happen again until June 21 of 2062.

Then again, by some other counts it's been 67 years since it last happened, which would put it in 1949.

This full moon in late June is known as the "strawberry moon." Is it because of the reddish glow through humid air when the moon is low on the horizon?

Those traditionalists at the Old Farmer's Almanac say the strawberry moon label actually dates back to Algonquin tribes who knew the full moon in June was a signal to start gathering those newly ripe berries.

As for the summer solstice, one of the popular places to celebrate is at Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument in the United Kingdom.

Because Stonehenge is aligned to the solstices, visitors there on Monday morning saw the only day of the year when the rising sun reaches the monument's central altar, the Independent explains.

Of course, the shortest night of the year is not cause for great celebration if your hobby (or profession) is astronomy.

Matt Craig, a professor of physics and astronomy at MSU-Moorhead, tells the Forum the solstice "makes tonight totally miserable for astronomy."

But Craig adds that if it gets people talking about the sky it's worth it.

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