Ephemera: The month of June 2016: Here’s a brief overview of the month ahead, highlighting some astronomical events, and some special days to celebrate and/or to ponder upon.
1 June. Mars was, in actuality, closest to the Earth on 30 May, but it is still very close, today – look south. It will be even closer in about twenty-four months time.
‘If a June night could talk, it would probably boast that it invented romance.’ Bernard Williams
4 June. St Edfrith was born and educated in Ireland, became a monk and trained as an artist, scribe and calligrapher. He was probably responsible for illuminating the Lindisfarne Gospels which took him over two years to complete. He became a bishop in AD698. He died on this day, his feast day, in AD721. He is buried at Durham cathedral.
5 June. New moon today.
7 June. Ramadan begins.
‘All June I bound the rose in sheaves, Now, rose by rose, I strip the leaves’. Robert Browning
9 June. St Columcille, aka Columba,was born in County Donegal, Ireland about AD521. Columba was a poet, who had learned Irish history and poetry from a bard named Gemman. There are many legends about Columcille finding strange islands and tribes, of being able to see the future, healing people, and subduing wild animals. My favourite is recorded by Adomnán (the ninth abbot of Iona). He writes that Columcille rescued a swimmer who was being pursued by a huge monster in a Scottish lake. Columcille bravely intervened and commanded the monster, thus : ‘Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed.’ The foul beast fled, terrified, much to the amazement of the tribe of onlooking Picts who promptly glorified God. The location? Loch Ness. Yes, this is the first record of the Loch Ness monster, in AD565.
Columcille died on this day (his feast day) in AD597.
15-16 June. The Lyrid meteor shower peak today. Look east (well, east-south-east) towards the star Vega, in the constellation Lyra.
16 June. Pentecost. Also called Whitsun(day) in the UK. See Acts 2 in the Book.
‘Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June’. Al Bernstein
19 June. Father’s Day in the UK.
19 June. Also, it’s World Sauntering Day (and more about this wonderful activity on Tadhg’s blog nearer the date).
20 June. Full moon today, viewable in the Southern Hemisphere, in the constellation Sagittarius. To ancient and latter-day Celt this month’s full moon is known as ‘the moon of horses’.
20 June. It’s also Summer solstice at 10.34pm UTC. It’s the longest day of the year (or shortest for those in the Southern Hemisphere). If you’re celebrating, most will do at sunrise the following morning, on 21 June. Hopefully, I’ll be at Stonehenge, then, and sunrise there is at 4.43am local time.
To ancient and latter-day druids and others, this is a special time. Trees have always played a large role in Midsummer festivities and trees near wells and fountains which were ‘dressed’ with coloured cloths (and still are in several places in England). The Oak tree has always been very significant at Litha. The Celtic name for Oak is ‘Duir’ which means ‘doorway’ – relevant, as on this day we are crossing the threshold, entering the doorway into the second, waning part of the year.
‘There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter’. Billy Connolly
24 June. ‘Take your dog to work day’ apparently, in the UK and USA.
27 June. The Boötids meteor shower peak today, in the constellation Boötes.