1st full moon of summer to rise Friday night

A hot start to summer is unfolding for millions across the United States, but after the sun sets and the temperature starts to drop, stargazers will be able to step outside and see the first big astronomical event of the new season.

The June solstice occurred at 4:50 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 20, 2024, the earliest solstice in 228 years. The exact day and time of the solstice vary slightly from year to year, but the last time it happened this early was in 1796, when it took place at 1:45 p.m. ET on June 20.

The sun rises as thousands gathered at the ancient stone circle Stonehenge to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, near Salisbury, England on Sunday, June 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

Across the Northern Hemisphere, June 20 will be the longest day of the year and mark the official start to astronomical summer. Meanwhile, areas south of the equator will experience the shortest day of the year, which coincides with the beginning of astronomical winter.

The changing of the celestial seasons will be quickly followed by one of June's top astronomical sights.

The first full day of summer will end with the first full moon of the season, one that has several names inspired by the flora, fauna and weather of June.

In North America, June's full moon is called the Strawberry Moon, as it is the time of year when strawberries ripen and are ready to be harvested. Other nicknames for June's full moon include the Hot Moon, the Hatching Moon and the Birth Moon.

The full moon of June also known as Strawberry Moon rises over the Four Towers Business area skyscrapers in downtown Madrid. (Photo by Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The moon may briefly look red or pink, similar to strawberries, shortly after it climbs above the horizon, before gradually transitioning to its typical white appearance. This color is not related to the moon's nickname but rather the effects of the atmosphere, the same reason why some sunrises and sunsets feature vivid colors.