When will we see the strawberry moon and the Summer Solstice?

By Jonathan Powell, South Wales Argus astronomy writer

The display of the aurora borealis on May 10 was, without a doubt, one of the best the eye can ever witness.

I have been watching the skies since the early 1980’s and I have never seen anything in the night sky in the same league as this.

For those who were lucky enough to catch the northern lights, I think you will also agree, it was just jaw-dropping. There was great anticipation regarding the possibility of a re-show on Saturday 11 May, but to no avail.

The northern lights almost filled the skies with an ever-changing display that was as easy to see with the naked eye as it was with smartphone technology. No single view of the aurora remained the same for very long as it was constantly changing into different patterns and shapes.

The display on May 10 is thought to be one of the strongest displays of the northern lights in 500 years, and it was all caused by a group of sunspots.

The sunspot groups, cataloged as 3663 and 3664, were first linked to solar flare activity, then as they erupted repeatedly, Mass Coronal Ejections. These CMEs (which can travel up to 1,900 miles per second) occurred several days before the display we saw, with their charged particles traveling from the Sun towards Earth and interacting with our atmosphere to produce that dramatic evening. delivery.

The range of colors seen within the curtains, arcs and spirals reflect the interaction between the sun’s particles and various gases, at different levels in our atmosphere.

The Sun image, courtesy of Dave Eagle, shows the sunspot grouping around the time of the display and how their visibility has recently decreased. As a rough idea of ​​scale, the size of individual sunspots obviously varies, but they can be roughly the size of Earth.

It is not impossible, given the current active state of the Sun, that there are likely to be more displays during 2024, but it is not certain whether they will match the entertainment of May.


Comet C/2023 A3 Tsuchinshan-ATLAS had great expectations this year. Discovered late last year, some quarters of the scientific world are already labeling it as “the [potential] The comet of the century”.

However, given the unpredictable nature of these ice and rock visitors, that may be an exaggeration.

The comet is currently located in the constellation Virgo, the Virgin, and can be observed by all but those with large enough telescopes. If the comet lives up to its predicted brightness, we could have quite a few shows this fall.

Stars and constellations

On Saturday June 8, look for a thin crescent moon in the evening sky. Once you’ve found the Moon, zoom up to find two bright stars spread apart. These are Pollux on the left, and Castor on the right. Both stars reside in the constellation Gemini, the Twins. On Sunday June 16, the Moon will appear close to another bright star, Spica, in the constellation of Virgo, the Virgin.

Where to look: northwest.


All the planetary activity is reserved for the morning sky. Gets up on Saturday at 1am. On the morning of Thursday June 27 and Friday June 28, the Moon will be visible close to the ringed planet. Mars rises at 2.30am, followed by Jupiter, rising around 3.30am. Although both Saturn and Mars appear to be about the same in brightness, Jupiter will be easier to see, dazzling in the pre-dawn sky.

Where to look: along the eastern horizon.

Noctilucent cloud

This month, watch out for a phenomenon called ‘noctilucent cloud’. Named from the Latin for “shining night”, look above the northern sky a few hours after sunset for wisepy strands of cloud. Created by sunlight reflected on high-altitude ice clouds just at the edge of space, the formations create a stunning sight to the naked eye, appearing blue-white in nature.

Where to look: north

June’s Strawberry Full Moon

The full moon on June 22nd is known as the “Strawberry Moon” because of the ripening of the fruit during this time of year. Because the light is scattered by the Earth’s atmosphere, the Moon will take on a “reddish” hint.

The Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurs on June 20 at 9.51pm. This is the point in the year when the Sun reaches its northernmost position in the sky, giving the northern half of the world the astronomical start of summer, and in the Southern Hemisphere, the day is the astronomical start of winter.

Association meetings

Cardiff Astronomical Society. Thursday 6 June. 7.30pm. Space Industry in Wales – Neil Monteiro, Space Forge. Cardiff University, Queen’s Buildings, The Parade, Cardiff, CF24 3AA.

Barry Astronomical Society. Monday 17 June. 7 p.m. Summer Skies – Dave Powell. Meetings are usually held at Barra Community Centre, Cemetery Road, Barra, CF62 8BP.

Bridgend Astronomical Society. Wednesday 19 June. 7 p.m. Introduction to Radio Astronomy – Andrew Thomas. Bridgend Tennis, Squash and Bowls Club, Halo Rec Centre, Angel Street, CF31 4AH.

Glenhead Astronomical Society. Tuesday 25 June. 7 p.m. The Milky Way Galaxy – Wayne Jones. Activity Learning Centre, 20 James Street, Glen Ebbw, NP23 6JG

Moon phases

New Moon June 6; First Quarter June 14; Full Moon June 22; Third Quarter June 28.

Sunrise / sunset times

Early June: The sun rises at 4.59am. Sets at 9.20pm. End of June: The sun rises at 4.58am. Sets at 9.32pm.

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