Phenology Journal: The First Week of Middle Summer

 The Second Week of the Firefly Moon, the First Week of Middle Summer, the Second Week of the Sun in Cancer

Reaching apogee, its position farthest from Earth, on June 23 and coming into its second quarter on the 24th, the Firefly Moon waxes until it becomes completely full on July 1 at 6:03 a.m.

Middle summer typically begins at the close of June and lasts through the middle of August. The percentage of totally sunny days in a week is now the highest of the year, and for the next month, average temperatures vary just one degree. The sun has shifted slightly from its solstice peak, however, and in the 45 days of this phase of the yea along the 40th Parallel, an hour is added to the night’s length.

After sunset this week, the western sky is bright with Venus and Jupiter and Regulus, the most prominent star of Leo, all clustered below the cup of the Big Dipper. Venus is the largest planet in Leo, Jupiter the smaller of the two, and neither planet appears to twinkle – as opposed to the light of Regulus. At the same time that the evening stars fill the west, Saturn lies due south in Libra, leading Scorpius and Sagittarius into July.

The day stars of middle summer are part of the season’s lore: Orion travels from one horizon to the other between sunrise and sunset, followed by Sirius of Canis Major, associated with midday heat during the seventh month. As these constellations become part of autumn and winter, their absence from daylight hours chills the year, their power relegated to the dark

Moon and sun and stars and planets, exuberant foliage and flowering, so many tides that it seems the spin and weight of all of them together suddenly break the solstice ascension of time, and the season topples over from its own largess, the full of the Firefly Moon – or perhaps the beating wings of the fireflies themselves – pushing the Earth just enough to make it tilt toward equinox.

Bill Felker

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *