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Did you see it? Rare strawberry moon rises during summer solstice

Posted: 5:38 AM, Jun 21, 2016
Updated: 2016-06-21 06:38:41-04

Frankly, many of us in the media got it wrong on Monday. We were all describing the strawberry moon as a rare occurrence defined by the full moon falling on the same day as the summer solstice. While Monday did see that rare combination of solstice and full moon, that is not what defines a “strawberry moon.”

A strawberry moon is far more common. It happens every June when a full moon comes during strawberry picking season. Turns out the combination of the full moon and the solstice has no name, it is that rare.

“It just hasn’t happened now in nearly 70 years,” said Paul Borchardt, the observatory director at the Milwaukee Astronomical Society as he stood beside the domed enclosures housing the society’s large telescopes. “It’s been that long since the solstice and the full moon have been on the same day of the calendar.”

Borchardt, though, never gets terribly excited about a full moon. It isn’t a good time to view the orb of night.

“It’s a washed out moon,” he said tersely. “There aren’t many craters to look at or mountains. It’s a big light polluter. It stops us from seeing other things in the sky.”

If Borchardt isn’t excited about a full moon, a strawberry moon or a full moon on the date of the summer solstice, witches see things differently. Kris Jansen and Chris Jansen are a married pair of West Allis witches and view full moons as a time of power and intensity.

“Any full moon is a time of tremendous power and energy,” Chris said as he stood in his West Allis garden. “And that’s an energy that a lot of people like to work with and take advantage of.”

Apparently you don’t have to be a witch to seize that advantage.

“Most people that like to do stuff that aren’t in a formal coven or formal initiation group will take and write down something they want to get rid of in their life or something they want to bring in and they’ll burn it under the full moon,” Kris said.

Kris suggested that the full moon and solstice might be a good time to quit smoking by writing down one’s desire to quit and burning it by the strawberry moon.