From a crowd of astronomical events, summer emerges

June 22, 2013

The summer solstice was Friday. Saturday and Sunday brought a big, bright “super moon.” And Monday may start a steamy stretch of days instantly recognizable as sweltering summer.

Recent days have brought and are bringing to Washington one solar, lunar and meteorological event after the other.

Meanwhile, Saturday was pleasant. It conformed to the marks for a true June day. The high temperature, as measured at Reagan National Airport, was 86 — the normal high for June 22. The low was within a degree of normal. A touch of humidity showed up, but it appeared to pose little impediment to enjoying a late-June Saturday.

However, temperatures are expected to climb into the 90s by Monday, certainly by Tuesday, and possibly even on Sunday. And they are expected to linger there long enough to be classified as a heat wave.

Saturday, however, was free of the humid haze that symbolizes summer discomfort, and the night sky was clear enough for a good view of the “super moon.”

That is the name that has been adopted to describe the coincidence of a full moon with the moon’s closest monthly approach to the Earth.

Any glimpse of the moon this weekend will reveal a sphere that is close to being the biggest and brightest that it will appear all year.

It is about 15 per cent brighter than an average full moon. It looked that way Saturday night, looming above the city, as bright or brighter than the illuminated walls of the White House, or even car headlights.

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