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The Strawberry Moon will be at its peak tonight. What to know

The moon is seen at 98 percent full as it rises out of the clouds Monday, June 13, 2022, beyond Winthrop, Mass. The moon will reach its full stage on Friday, during a phenomenon known as a supermoon because its proximity to Earth, and it is also labeled as the "Strawberry Moon" because it is the full moon at strawberry harvest time. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) The moon is seen at 98 percent full as it rises out of the clouds Monday, June 13, 2022, beyond Winthrop, Mass. The moon will reach its full stage on Friday, during a phenomenon known as a supermoon because its proximity to Earth, and it is also labeled as the "Strawberry Moon" because it is the full moon at strawberry harvest time. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Summer is officially here and this year a rare full moon will mark the occasion with a name that couldn’t be more fitting.

The so-called Strawberry Moon will appear across Ontario’s skies and beyond to coincide with the summer solstice, which started Thursday and reaches its fullest point on Friday at about 9 p.m.

While you may be expecting to look up at that time and see a big berry-like ball of red in the sky, Walter Stoddard, researcher-programmer at the Ontario Science Centre, says that’s won’t be the case.

“It has nothing to do with the color of the moon,” he said, adding that the name is derived from Indigenous tradition and the timing of the seasonal strawberry harvest, although its name does vary geographically.

So what will the Strawberry Moon actually look like?

Stoddard explained that while the moon may have a golden-like tinge and appear larger than normal, that’s largely due to what’s known as “moon illusion.”

“Full moons are opposite the sun. So on the summer solstice, the sun is the highest it is in the sky. So that means the full moon will be the lowest the moon gets in the sky, which means the light from the full moon has a lot of atmosphere to filter through for us to see it,” he said.

Because of its height in the sky, Stoddard said the moon will look “especially brilliant” in relation to the horizon.

“You can compare the moon to the size of other objects, and you get to realize how much of the sky it takes up. It's huge. So seeing the moon next to the flagpole or next to the schoolhouse or next to your own house, you realize how big the moon really is,” he said.

Ontarians will want to take some time to look up Friday night as the event is quite rare.

As Stoddard explained, a full moon that coincides with a summer solstice only happens about every two decades.

“So a full moon happens just about every month. Summer solstice, just about every year. Full Moon on a summer solstice? Now you're lining up those two things: every 20 years,” he said.

The Strawberry Moon should be visible across the province, weather permitting. 

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