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Lunar standstill explained as phenomenon to create 'dramatic' night sky tonight for the first time in 18 years

Lunar standstill explained as phenomenon to create 'dramatic' night sky tonight for the first time in 18 years

Tomorrow marks the arrival of the first lunar standstill since 2006

There's a lunar standstill heading our way, and we’ll be able to see it as soon as tomorrow (21 June).

Lunar standstills are rare occasions, so you should do your best to catch it if you can.

This is the first lunar standstill in a whopping 18 years.

Yep, your maths is correct - there hasn’t been a lunar standstill to gaze at since 2006, so this is a very big deal.

And in the event that you’ve never heard of a lunar standstill - it has been 18 years, after all - fear not.

Let us explain…

We all love the moon. (Getty Stock Image)
We all love the moon. (Getty Stock Image)

What exactly is a lunar standstill?

They happen in the rare event when the northernmost and southernmost moonrise and moonset are in their furthest apart positions.

This leads to the Moon rising and setting in the most extreme northerly and southerly positions.

The 'standstill' part refers to the Moon appearing to stay in the sky, and easily visible, for a long time.

They also have a really interesting history.

Lunar standstills played a huge part in the way Stonehenge was designed.

The Station Stones of Stonehenge - the ones that form a rectangle - align with the Moon’s most extreme position.

So the Moon appears to be directly in the middle of it.

And with the summer solstice beginning tonight (20 June), the lunar standstill is set to illuminate the night sky.

A lunar standstill aided the design of Stonehenge. (Getty Stock Photo)
A lunar standstill aided the design of Stonehenge. (Getty Stock Photo)

When can I see the lunar standstill?

There are many opportunities to see this celestial wonder.

In the UK, it's going to be at peak visibility on the following dates.




  • 21-22 June
  • 21 July
  • 19 August
  • 17 September
  • 17 October
  • 15 November
  • 15 December
A Strawberry moon arrives tomorrow, too. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
A Strawberry moon arrives tomorrow, too. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

How can I watch the lunar standstill?

All you need to do is head outside on the evening of the dates listed above and look up.

English Heritage will also be streaming this week's event from 9.30pm BST on Friday (21 June) on its social channels.

Of course, there’s even more moon-related things to get excited about at the moment.

Tomorrow (20 June) marks the start of the aforementioned summer solstice, which welcomes the arrival of the Strawberry Moon.

Also referred to as the 'Pink Moon', it will be visible all over the world tomorrow.

The phenomenon got its name from Native Americans who noted that it occurs during the time that strawberries ripen.

It's set to have an effect on four star signs - Taurus, Cancer, Capricorn and Pisces, so don’t be alarmed if you feel especially moved during this time.

What a time to be alive.

Featured Image Credit: Manuel Romano/NurPhoto via Getty Images/Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

Topics: Space, News