Share the joy of outer space in June with Lucy Hambly

From the unofficial start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere to the uniquely named Strawberry Moon, here are some of June’s most anticipated astronomy events.

The launch of the fourth integrated test flight of SpaceX’s Starship has been moved from mid-May to June 5, with the flight window opening at 8:00 AM (Eastern Time). As mentioned in last month’s article, Starship is the largest and most powerful rocket ever flown.

The Arietids meteor shower is predicted to peak on June 7, though it will be active between May 29 and June 17. The Arietids are widely considered to be the most active daytime meteor shower, with an average rate of between 60 and 200 meteors visible per hour. However, despite their high hourly rate, it can be very difficult to spot an Arietid meteor because of the daylight interference. You have the best chance at observing one in the first few weeks of June in the last hour or two before dawn, though it is unlikely that more than a couple will be visible at once.

(Unlike nighttime meteor showers, which are usually very easy to observe, it can be difficult to spot an Arietid meteor because of the sunlight interference. Image Credit: NASA)

The June solstice of 2024 will take place at 4:50 PM (Eastern Time) on June 20. This marks the day with the longest period of daylight (or the summer solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere and the day with the shortest period of daylight (or the winter solstice) in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also commonly referred to as the northern solstice, and occurs each year between June 20 and June 22. However, June 22 solstices are extremely rare; the last time one took place was almost five decades ago, and there will not be another until 2203 (almost two centuries from now). While meteorologists tend to consider June 1 the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, astronomers point to the June solstice as the official beginning of the season. One common misconception about the June solstice is that it is usually the hottest day of the year, while the occasion actually just marks the longest or shortest amount of daylight present across hemispheres. 

The full moon of June, or the Strawberry Moon, will rise on June 21, reaching peak illumination shortly after sunset at 9:08 PM (Eastern Time). Despite its name, the Strawberry Moon will not have any special colouring or properties. Instead, it was likely named for the ripening strawberries that come with the warmer weather. It is also sometimes known as the Blooming Moon, the Green Corn Moon, or the Hoer Moon. The full moon of June is always either the last full moon of spring or the first of summer depending on the date of the solstice each year. Because the 2024 June solstice will occur the day before the Strawberry Moon rises, it will be the first full moon of summer.  

(The Strawberry Moon will appear like any other full moon on June 21, despite its name having confused many into expecting it to have a unique hue. Image Credit: NASA)

Whether you choose to attempt the challenge of viewing the Arietids meteor shower or celebrate the beginning of summer with the June Solstice, this month will be sure to provide all astronomy lovers with many chances to get outside and experience exciting astronomical phenomena firsthand. 


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