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Incredible photos show the once-in-18-years ‘lunar standstill’ event coinciding with the Full Strawberry Moon

Stunning photos show the Full Strawberry Moon coinciding with a ‘major lunar standstill’ over the weekend. 

Occurring just once every 18.6 years, ‘major lunar standstill’ is when moonrise and moonset are furthest apart along the horizon, as viewed from Earth. 

Meanwhile, the Strawberry Moon is the name for the full moon when it appears in June – named by historic tribes after the season’s ripening fruit. 

From Stonehenge to Paris, Athens and New York, incredible photos capture the stunning display as the moon made its dramatic sweep across the sky. 

And at Stonehenge, where revellers gathered to celebrate the solstice, this unusual event put theories about the ancient monument to the test. 

Photographers around the world captured this stunning display, showing the full moon over iconic locations such as the Temple of Poseidon in Athens (pictured)

Photographers around the world captured this stunning display, showing the full moon over iconic locations such as the Temple of Poseidon in Athens (pictured)  

Seen from Parliament Hill a spectacular full moon, known as the Strawberry Moon, rises over St Paul's Cathedral and The Shard in central London, June 22

Seen from Parliament Hill a spectacular full moon, known as the Strawberry Moon, rises over St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard in central London, June 22 

Occurring once every 18.6 years, the major lunar standstill marks the moment when when moonrise and moonset are furthest apart along the horizon. This is caused by the angle of the moon's orbit around Earth

Occurring once every 18.6 years, the major lunar standstill marks the moment when when moonrise and moonset are furthest apart along the horizon. This is caused by the angle of the moon’s orbit around Earth 

What is major lunar standstill?

Major lunar standstill is when moonrise and moonset are furthest apart along Earth’s horizon. 

This astronomical event occurs once every 18.6 years, last occurring in 2006. 

During a major lunar standstill, the northernmost and southernmost positions of the moon are at their furthest apart along the horizon. 

It is believed that these distinct lunar movements may have been observed during the early phase of Stonehenge, potentially influencing the monument’s design and purpose.

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Just like the Earth is slightly tilted on its axis, the moon’s orbit is also slightly tilted with respect to Earth.

Since the moon’s orbit is about five degrees off the Earth’s orbital plane, its position shifts North and South within a 57-degree range.

Once every 18.6 years, the moon reaches a point called a ‘major lunar standstill’ when moonrise and moonset are farthest apart along the horizon.

This gives the moon its highest and longest ark through the night sky, offering photographers great opportunities to snap some stunning pictures. 

‘The major lunar standstill is a period of about one and a half to two years when the northernmost and southernmost moonrises (or sets) are furthest apart,’ said Dr Fabio Silva, senior lecturer in archaeological modelling at Bournemouth University. 

‘When this happens the Moon rises (and sets) outside the range of sunrises and sets, which may have imbued this celestial phenomenon with meaning and significance.’

Keen stargazers captured images of the moon rising over cities all around the world thanks to clear skies – as this standstill event coincided with the full moon. 

These photos even show the moon glowing above iconic structures such as the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and the Temple of Poseidon in Athens. 

This weekend marked the first 'major lunar standstill' in 18 years, coinciding with the Full Strawberry Moon. Pictured, a passenger plane flies in front of the full 'strawberry' moon over San Francisco Bay as seen from Foster City in California, United States on June 22, 2024

This weekend marked the first ‘major lunar standstill’ in 18 years, coinciding with the Full Strawberry Moon. Pictured, a passenger plane flies in front of the full ‘strawberry’ moon over San Francisco Bay as seen from Foster City in California, United States on June 22, 2024

The moon looks like its melting at Bembridge Lifeboat station last night The Strawberry Moon rises up at Bembridge Lifeboat station on the Isle of Wight

The moon looks like its melting at Bembridge Lifeboat station last night The Strawberry Moon rises up at Bembridge Lifeboat station on the Isle of Wight

During the lunar standstill the Moon travels through its longest and highest arch, many photographers took this opportunity to snap a photo of the moon near landmarks like the Eiffel Tower

During the lunar standstill the Moon travels through its longest and highest arch, many photographers took this opportunity to snap a photo of the moon near landmarks like the Eiffel Tower 

The full Strawberry Moon rises behind the Empire State Building in New York City on June 21, 2024, as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey

The full Strawberry Moon rises behind the Empire State Building in New York City on June 21, 2024, as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey

The Strawberry Moon is show here rising over the Empire State Building in New York this weekend

The Strawberry Moon is show here rising over the Empire State Building in New York this weekend 

The full moon rises over Ankara Castle in Turkish capital, Ankara on June 22, 2024. A full moon is given a particular nickname depending on when it appears - in June, this is 'Strawberry moon'

The full moon rises over Ankara Castle in Turkish capital, Ankara on June 22, 2024. A full moon is given a particular nickname depending on when it appears – in June, this is ‘Strawberry moon’

The strawberry moon (full moon) rises behind the Corinth canal near the city of ancient Corinth, Greence on June 22, 2024

The strawberry moon (full moon) rises behind the Corinth canal near the city of ancient Corinth, Greence on June 22, 2024

But if you missed this weekend’s lunar standstill there is no need to worry, as there will be more opportunities throughout this year.

We are now entering the lunar standstill season which runs until late next year.

During this time the standstill will occur about twice for almost two years, although it will not always line up with a full moon, which happens about once a month. 

Dr Fabio Silva said this ‘major lunar standstill season’ runs from February 2024 to November 2025. 

‘It happens twice a month for about 1.5 to two years,’ he told MailOnline. 

From now there will be a major lunar standstill every two weeks, meaning many more opportunities to see great views of the moon like this one over the Statue of Liberty

From now there will be a major lunar standstill every two weeks, meaning many more opportunities to see great views of the moon like this one over the Statue of Liberty 

The full moon rises over Humber Bay Arch Bridge in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on June 21, 2024

The full moon rises over Humber Bay Arch Bridge in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on June 21, 2024

Cormorants are seen on a transmission tower by the 92 highway as full 'strawberry' moon rises over San Francisco Bay in Foster City, California, June 22

Cormorants are seen on a transmission tower by the 92 highway as full ‘strawberry’ moon rises over San Francisco Bay in Foster City, California, June 22

The strawberry moon peeps over the trees, as seen from Clayfield Copse, Berkshire, England, June 23

The strawberry moon peeps over the trees, as seen from Clayfield Copse, Berkshire, England, June 23

As the moon orbits the Earth we can see more or less of the illuminated face, when the entire illuminated side is visible from Earth this is called a full moon.

Although the Strawberry Moon can take on an orange-red glow due to its low path over the horizon, this is not what gives the moon its name. 

Every time the full moon appears, it’s given a nickname based on what month it is – so the ‘pink moon’ in April, ‘flower moon’ in May, ‘strawberry moon’ in June and so on. 

These names are believed to be derived from Native American lunar calendars but were popularised through the publication of the Farmer’s Almanac.

However, it isn’t just Native American groups who measured time through the cycles of the moon.

In the UK, it is believed that neolithic structures like Stonehenge were built to align with the seasonal lunar cycle.

Some researchers believe that Stonehenge may have been deliberately built to align with the major lunar standstill.

Experts think that the standstill could align with the four ancient ‘station stones’ which mark the rectangular perimeter of the site. 

Stonehenge is believed to have been built to align with the seasonal lunar cycle including events like the recent Summer Solstice during which modern pagans gathered to welcome the arrival of Summer

Stonehenge is believed to have been built to align with the seasonal lunar cycle including events like the recent Summer Solstice during which modern pagans gathered to welcome the arrival of Summer 

Researchers also suggest that the site could have been built to align with the rare major lunar standstill

Researchers also suggest that the site could have been built to align with the rare major lunar standstill 

Experts think that the moon will align with Stonehenge's ancient 'Station Stones' during the major lunar standstill. Although only two are still standing, the Station Stones could point in the direction of the rising moon

Experts think that the moon will align with Stonehenge’s ancient ‘Station Stones’ during the major lunar standstill. Although only two are still standing, the Station Stones could point in the direction of the rising moon  

Although only two of these station stones currently survive, one of the sides appears to point in a southeastern direction – matching where the moon will rise during a major lunar standstill.

However, it is not yet clear where on the site an observer would need to stand to witness the rising or setting of the moon during this event.

Researchers from the universities of Oxford, Leicester and Bournemouth are planning on using the lunar standstill season to investigate the possible lunar alignment of the site.

Speaking to MailOnline in April, Dr Silva said: ‘We want to assess where one needs to stand, how many people could effectively witness the alignment, whether after rising/before setting the moon will be obscured by other stones that may diminish the experience, whether moonlight casts shadows inside the circle.

‘These are the things that, put together, may help us build an argument for or against these alignments.’

Full moon, supermoon, Cold moon: What’s the difference?  

A FULL MOON  is the phase of the moon in which its whole disc is illuminated.

During the 29.5-day lunar cycle, we observe a new moon (with 0 per cent illumination), a waxing moon (when the amount of illumination on the moon is increasing), a full moon (100 per cent illumination) and then a waning moon (when its visible surface area is getting smaller).

Because our modern calendar isn’t quite in line with the Moon’s phases, sometimes we get more than one full Moon in a month. This is commonly known as a blue moon. 

Meanwhile, a SUPERMOON  is when the full moon nearly coincides with perigee – the point in the orbit of the moon at which it is nearest to the Earth.

This means a supermoon can appear as much as 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than when it’s furthest away from Earth. 

There are about three or four supermoons per year, most astronomy websites claim, and they happen at different times each year. 

In a nutshell, a supermoon is a full moon. But it’s bigger and brighter than a normal full moon. 

Lastly, COLD MOON simply refers to the time of the year the full moon is appearing.

In December, it’s known as Cold Moon because nights at this time of year are the longest and temperatures the most frigid. 

Other months of the year correspond to different nicknames – so January is Wolf Moon, February is Snow Moon, March is Worm Moon, April is Pink Moon, May is Flower Moon, June is Strawberry Moon and so on.  

Full moon names were historically used to track the seasons and therefore are closely related to nature. 

The full list of full moon nicknames: 

January: Wolf Moon because wolves were heard more often at this time.

February: Snow Moon to coincide with heavy snow.

March: Worm Moon as the Sun increasingly warmed the soil and earthworms became active.

April: Pink Moon as it heralded the appearance of Phlox subulata or moss pink – one of spring’s first flowers.

May: Flower Moon because of the abundance of blossoms.

June: Strawberry Moon because it appeared when the strawberry harvest first took place.

July: Buck Moon as it arrived when a male deer’s antlers were in full growth mode.

August: Sturgeon Moon after the large fish that was easily caught at this time.

September: Corn Moon because this was the time to harvest corn.

October: Hunter’s Moon after the time to hunt in preparation for winter.

November: Beaver Moon because it was the time to set up beaver traps.

December: Cold Moon because nights at this time of year were the longest.

Source: Old Farmer’s Almanac  

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