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The Solstice and the Supermoon


This was a weekend of the Sun and Moon -- a coincidence of the summer solstice and the "Supermoon". Friday was the summer solstice (in the northern hemisphere), welcomed by humans for thousands of years as the longest day of the year. In ancient times, people celebrated this day as the center point of summer. Some still observe the solstice with ceremonies and prayers, gathering on mountaintops or at spiritual landmarks. Over the weekend, skywatchers around the world were also treated to views of the so-called Supermoon, the largest full moon of the year. On Sunday, the moon approached within 357,000 km (222,000 mi) of Earth, in what is called a perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system (perigee: closest point of an elliptical orbit; syzygy: straight line made of three bodies in a gravitational system). Photographers across the globe set out to capture both events, and collected here are 24 images of our two most-visible celestial neighbors. [24 photos]

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The largest full moon of 2013, a "supermoon" scientifically known as a "perigee moon", rises over the Tien Shan mountains and the monument to 18th century military commander Nauryzbai Batyr near the town of Kaskelen, some 23 km (14 mi) west of Almaty, Kazakhstan, on June 23, 2013. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov)
The largest full moon of 2013, a "supermoon" scientifically known as a "perigee moon", rises over the Tien Shan mountains and the monument to 18th century military commander Nauryzbai Batyr near the town of Kaskelen, some 23 km (14 mi) west of Almaty, Kazakhstan, on June 23, 2013. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov)
Revelers celebrate the pagan festival of "Summer Solstice" at Stonehenge in Wiltshire in southern England, on June 21, 2013. The festival, which dates back thousands of years, celebrates the longest day of the year when the sun is at its maximum elevation. Modern druids and people gather at the landmark Stonehenge every year to see the sun rise on the first morning of summer. (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images) #
People look at the horizon soon after sunrise on June 21, 2013 from the rocky crest filled with astronomical markers at the megalithic observatory of Kokino during the summer solstice. The ancient astronomic observatory, located about 100 km northeast of Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, dates back to more than 4,000 years ago. (Robert Atanasovski/AFP/Getty Images) #
Andean religious leaders performs a traditional new years' ritual at the ruins of the ancient civilization of Tiwanaku located in the highlands in Tiwanaku, Bolivia, at sunrise on June 21, 2013. Bolivia's Aymara Indians are celebrating the year 5,521 as well as the southern hemisphere's winter solstice, which marks the start of a new agricultural cycle. (AP Photo/Juan Karita) #
Young women dressed as summer fairies attend an event inspired by pre-Christian traditions in Bucharest, Romania, on June 23, 2013. According to tradition, fairies, called in Romanian "Sanziene", come to earth around the summer solstice bringing fertility for the coming summer. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) #
A member of the Mayan Priest Council conducts a ceremony to celebrate the Summer Solstice in the San Andres Archeological Park, in San Juan Opico, 32 km west of San Salvador, El Salvador, on June 22, 2013. (Jose Cabezas/AFP/Getty Images) #
A view from Pajchiri mountain, where the Aymara people go to receive the first sunbeam during their new year celebrations, 90 km (56 mi) north of La Paz, Bolivia, on June 21, 2013. (Reuters/David Mercado) #
People raise their hands during a ritual at sunrise to celebrate the Aymara New Year on June 21, 2013 at the Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia. A crowd gathered to receive the first rays of Tata Inti (god Sun) during the celebration of the winter solstice that marks the beginning of the 5,521st year in the Aymara calendar. (Aizar Raldes/AFP/Getty Images) #
People hold their hands up to feel the first rays of sun during a traditional Andean new years' ritual at the ruins from the ancient civilization of Tiwanaku, Bolivia, on June 21, 2013. Bolivia's Aymara Indians celebrate the year 5,521 as well as the southern hemisphere's winter solstice, marking the start of a new agricultural cycle. (AP Photo/Juan Karita) #
Revelers kiss as they celebrate during the summer solstice at the ancient Stonehenge monument on Salisbury Plain in southern England, on June 21, 2013. (Reuters/Dylan Martinez) #
A girl takes photos of the Kokino megalithic observatory during the summer solstice celebration in Kumanovo June 21, 2013. The 3,800 years old observatory was discovered in 2001 in the north-western town of Kumanovo 70 km (43 miles) north of capital Skopje and is ranked as the fourth oldest observatory in the world after Egypt's Abu Simbel, Britain's Stonehenge and Cambodia's Angkor Wat, according to NASA. (Reuters/Ognen Teofilovski) #
Jessica Matla and Mica Sviddo pose for a photograph as they wait for the arrival of the midsummer dawn at the megalithic monument of Stonehenge, on June 20, 2013 near Amesbury, England. Despite cloudy skies, thousands gathered at the 5,000 year old stone circle in Wiltshire to see the sunrise on the Summer Solstice dawn. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #
People take part in a group yoga practice on the morning of the summer solstice in New York's Times Square, on June 21, 2013. (Reuters/Eric Thayer) #
People dance as they take part in the Ivan Kupala festival near the town of Rakov, some 45 km (28 miles) west of Minsk, Belarus, on June 22, 2013. The traditional festival celebrates the summer solstice with overnight festivities such as people singing and dancing around campfires, as they believe it will purge them of their sins and make them healthier. (Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko) #
A full moon also referred to as the "supermoon" rises over the San Juan bonfire on the beach of Playa de Poniente in Gijon, Spain, on June 24, 2013. Fires formed by burning unwanted furniture, old school books, wood and effigies of malignant spirits are seen across Spain as people celebrate the night of San Juan, a purification ceremony coinciding with the summer solstice. (Reuters/Eloy Alonso) #
Tourists look at the rising Supermoon from the elevated skywalk of the Supertrees Grove at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, on June 23, 2013. (Reuters/Tim Chong) #
A man takes pictures of the full moon on the Spanish Canary island of Tenerife on June 22, 2013. (Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images) #
The Supermoon, behind the Marina district towers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on June 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili) #
A rising moon, over the city of Rome, on June 23, 2013. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images) #
A cotton candy vendor walks in front of the moon during the Los Angeles Angels' baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, on June 22, 2013, in Anaheim, California, (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) #
The Supermoon rises next to the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, on June 23, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Scott Eisen) #
The Supermoon sets behind the Statue of Liberty, Sunday, June 23, 2013, in New York. The larger than normal moon called the "Supermoon" happens only once this year as the moon on its elliptical orbit is at its closest point to earth and is 13.5 percent larger than usual. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) #
People ride the Luna Park Swing Ride as the Supermoon rises on Coney Island, on June 22, 2013. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri) #
People ride illuminated paddle boards in the moonlight as it rises over the Toronto Beaches, on June 23, 2013. (Reuters/Mark Blinch) #

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