Worm moon is back: When to enjoy its peak of bright rotundness
As sigh-worthy as spring and bold as summer thunder, March’s moon swells to full this weekend with a Monday debut of grandeur.
The March full moon will reach its peak of rotundness at 1:48 p.m. Monday, rising above the horizon at 7:37 p.m.
But the so-called worm moon, will be plenty big on the evenings of Saturday and Sunday. It likely will be too light to see Saturday’s moonrise at 4:20 p.m., but Sunday could put on a display as it stretches into view beginning at 6:29 p.m.
This will be the second closest full moon to Earth this year, at 222,081 miles away. April marks the closest moon, nudging by Earth at 221,851 miles away.
Whether the March moon is a super moon depends on whom you ask.
While NASA only considers the very closest full moon of the year as super, astrophysicist Fred Espenak gives the lofty title to full moons that come within 90 percent of the closest approach to Earth.
That means the lunar swells of February, March, April and May are considered super, according to Espenak, who is also known as Mr. Eclipse.
“Surprisingly, there are frequently four or more super moons (out of a possible 12-13 Full Moons) each year,” Espenak writes on his website. “The proximity of the Full Moon to perigee is not that rare.”
Astronomers have long described a full moon that is closest to Earth in its orbit as a perigee full moon, or perigee-syzygy.
Espenak says super moons appear brighter than average, but whether the common observer will note the difference is questionable.
The nickname “worm moon” came from the thawing of the land as winter wanted and earthworm casts appear — evidence the squiggly burrowers were active again, according to the Farmers’ Almanac.
“It was also referred to as the full crust moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night,” the Almanac notes. “The full sap moon, marking the time of sapping maple trees, is another variation.”
The National Weather Service in Miami is forecasting mostly cloudy skies for the nights of Saturday through Monday, and cool temperatures in the low to mid-60s.
Sky and Telescope recommends looking for the bright star Denebola above and to the left of the moon as it breaches the horizon Monday.
Denebola is the second brightest star in the constellation of Leo and visible to the naked eye.