Look up to see a Strawberry Supermoon shining in the sky tonight

·5 min read
Look up to see a Strawberry Supermoon shining in the sky tonight

Look up tonight to see the Strawberry Supermoon.

The last Full Moon of spring rises Monday evening. It also just happens to be this year's second supermoon, and is expected to shine big and bright for the next two nights. To see if you'll have clear skies to see it, check your local forecast on our website or on The Weather Network app (Android)(iOS).

Visit our Complete Guide to Summer 2022 for an in-depth look at the Summer Forecast, tips to plan for it and much more!

WHAT IS A 'STRAWBERRY' MOON?

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, each Full Moon of the year goes by several names, taken from First Nations, Colonial, and European folklore. The most popular name of the June Full Moon is the Full Strawberry Moon, as this was the time of year to pick ripened strawberries in what is now the northeastern United States.

2022-Full-Moon-Names-Properties
2022-Full-Moon-Names-Properties

This graphic collects all the relevant data about each Full Moon of 2022, including their popular names, whether they are a 'super' or 'micro' Moon, a 'perigee' or 'apogee' Full Moon, and whether they are remarkable in some other way (Harvest Moon, or due to a lunar eclipse). Credit: Scott Sutherland/NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio/Fred Espenak

Other names for the June Full Moon (or the month following it) include Berries Ripen Moon, Birth Moon, Blooming Moon, Egg Laying Moon, Hatching Moon, Green Corn Moon, Hot Moon, and Hoer Moon.

Watch below: See the Moon, hour by hour for all of 2022, in less than 5 minutes

Click here to view the video

A 'SUPER' MOON

A supermoon is a Full Moon that appears bigger and brighter in the sky because it is closer to Earth than usual.

The term supermoon was first used by astrologer Richard Nolle, who defined it as being when the Moon is "within 90 per cent of its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit."

If you carefully observe the Moon, night by night, you will notice that along with its changing phases, it also gets bigger and smaller in our sky over the course of a month.

Moon-Phases-June-2022-NASA-SVS
Moon-Phases-June-2022-NASA-SVS

The phases of the Moon for June 2022. Note that in relation to the box each image occupies, the size of each phase is different from the last. Credit: Scott Sutherland/NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

This apparent difference in size is due to the shape the Moon traces out as it orbits around Earth. It's not a perfect circle. Instead, its orbit is an ellipse.

So, sometimes the Moon is closer to Earth, and the nearest point it reaches in an orbit is known as perigee. At other times it is farther away, and its farthest point in an orbit is known as apogee.

June-2022-Full-New-Moons-NASA-SVS
June-2022-Full-New-Moons-NASA-SVS

The Moon's slightly elliptical orbit brings it as close as 357,651 km from Earth on June 14, and takes it as far away as 406,574 km on June 29. Credit: Scott Sutherland/NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

The Moon's perigee and apogee distances change, orbit to orbit, due to the gravitational influence of the Sun, Earth, and the other planets. Thus, the exact distance that qualifies a Full Moon as a supermoon also changes.

Retired NASA scientist Fred Espenak did the hard work for us by calculating this shifting threshold for each Full Moon through to the year 2100. According to his website, Astropixels, this Full Moon will be about 30 per cent brighter than the apogee Full Moon we saw back on Jan. 17, or just over 15 per cent brighter than an average Full Moon (such as the one we saw back on March 18).

Read more: Why is the supermoon so compelling to us?

THE MADDENING MOON ILLUSION

Seeing the Full Moon at any time of night is a spectacular sight. However, go out just after moonrise or just before moonset for what is usually an exceptional treat. It's not something the Moon itself is doing, though. Instead, it's due to a little trick of our mind known as The Moon Illusion.

There are times when the Moon actually does look bigger to us, such as during a supermoon, when the Moon is physically thousands of kilometres closer to Earth than usual. There are other times, however, when we just think it looks larger.

As our eyes take in the world around us, our brain knows from experience that objects close to us tend to appear larger and in focus. In contrast, distant objects tend to be tiny and blurry. From this, it also knows that for a distant object to appear in focus, it must be very large.

ugc calgary full moon
ugc calgary full moon

This close-up of the Harvest Moon was snapped in Calgary, AB, on September 13, 2019. Credit: Siv Heang

So, when we see a bright Full Moon hanging crisp and clear in the sky above the horizon, it is contrasted by all of the objects on the ground, which appear smaller and blurrier the closer they are to the horizon. This combination confuses the brain. So, to compensate, the brain interprets the Full Moon as being much bigger than it truly is. To be clear, the Moon is certainly much larger than any of the objects on the horizon (it's 3,474 km across), but this 'illusion' gives us the impression that the Moon looks enormous!

Look up into the sky closer to the middle of the night, and the Moon will be high above our heads. Usually, it will be the only thing we see, other than the stars and maybe a few planets. At that time, the brain is focused only on the Moon, and without the other objects in the field of view to complicate matters, it is free to just 'see' its actual size.

Full-Snow-Moon-2020-Darlene-MacLeod-Smith-UGC
Full-Snow-Moon-2020-Darlene-MacLeod-Smith-UGC

This zoomed-in image of the Full Snow Moon was captured from Salisbury, NB, on February 9, 2020, and uploaded into the Weather Network's UGC gallery. Credit: Darlene MacLeod/Smith

We have a few tricks of our own that can cancel out the Moon illusion, though.

For the first one, we don't need technology. Just go outside after sunset and find the Moon near the horizon. Stretch your arm towards it, and cover the Moon with your thumb or even your pinky finger. Note how big the Moon looks compared to the digit in question, and keep that in mind. Maybe even take a picture of it, if you want. Later in the night, check out the Moon again when it is high in the sky. It may appear smaller than when you saw it earlier, but repeat the step to cover it with your thumb or finger. Compare it with what you saw before, and you'll find that the Moon is actually precisely the same size at both times.

There is a way technology can help us, though. When the Moon is low on the horizon, take out your cellphone, turn your camera on, and point it at the Moon. Note: it is possible for the Moon illusion to still work on us when looking at a picture or video. This is because the brain will make the same judgments of distance, blurriness, and size as it did when looking at a 'live' scene. Still, directly comparing what we see in the sky at that time to what is shown on our small cellphone screen can help put things into better perspective. Plus, you can also take a few pictures to upload into the Weather Network UGC Gallery while you're at it!

(Thumbnail credit: jakkapan21/Getty Images. Stock photo. Creative #: 1173074943.)

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