One of the brightest heralds of spring makes its appearance this week.
The March full moon, known as the worm moon, will be at its peak at 3:18 a.m. ET on Friday, March 18, according to NASA. It will appear full through Saturday morning.
This moon will appear larger to viewers because of the “moon illusion,” according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. This occurs when the moon is near the horizon and our eyes compare the moon’s size to trees, buildings or other earthly objects. By comparing these reference points to the moon, our brain tricks us into thinking the moon is bigger.
Southern Native American tribes named the worm moon after the earthworm casts — essentially feces — that emerged as the ground thawed at winter’s end, according to NASA.
Another account in the Old Farmer’s Almanac says that the name refers to beetle larvae that would come out of winter hideouts as spring arrived.
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Northern Native American tribes, however, lived among forests without native earthworms due to glaciers having wiped out the species, according to NASA. Some of these groups instead referred to the moon as the crow moon, as a nod to the birds whose cawing would signal the end of winter.
In the Hindu month Phalguna, the March full moon marks the beginning of the Holi Festival, a two-day celebration known as the “Festival of Love,” “Festival of Colors” and “Festival of Spring,” according to NASA.
There are nine full moons left in 2022, with two of them qualifying as supermoons. Here is a list of the remaining moons for 2022, according to the Farmers’ Almanac:
While these are the popularized names associated with the monthly full moons, the significance of each one may vary across Native American tribes.
What is the Worm Moon? A guide to full moon nicknames
January: Wolf Moon
The names for full moons, especially the most common ones adopted by the Old Farmer’s Almanac, generally come from a combination of Native American and Colonial American terminology that have been passed down through generations.
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, January’s full moon was named the Wolf Moon because wolves tend to howl more during this time period.
Other names: Moon After Yule, Old Moon, Ice Moon, and Snow Moon.
February: Snow Moon
February is generally the snowiest month of the year in North America, so its full moon was appropriately nicknamed the Snow Moon, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Other names: Hunger Moon, Storm Moon and Chaste Moon.
March: Worm Moon
March marks the end of winter, which is the first time earthworms start coming out of the ground. The Worm Moon in March is usually the last full moon before the spring equinox.
Other names: Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Sap Moon, Sugar Moon, and Chaste Moon.
According to TimeandDate.com, the Old English or Anglo-Saxon name is the Lenten Moon.
April: Pink Moon
April’s Pink Moon doesn’t actually appear pink in the sky. It’s named instead after the pink flowers – Wild Ground Phlox or Moss Phlox– that start showing up in early spring, according to TimeandDate.com.
April’s full moon is also called the Paschal Full Moon in the Christian calendar. The Paschal Full Moon is the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox and is used to determine the date for Easter.
Other names: Sprouting Grass Moon, Fish Moon, Hare Moon, and Egg Moon
May: Flower Moon
May’s full moon is simply named the Flower Moon due to the flowers that bloom during the month.
Other names: Corn Planting Moon and Milk Moon.
June: Strawberry Moon
Other names: Honey Moon, Mead Moon, Full Rose Moon, Oak Moon, Cold Moon or Long Night Moon, according to EarthSky.org.
July: Buck Moon
Antlers generally start showing up on male deer during July, giving the month’s full moon the name Buck Moon.
Other names: Thunder Moon, Wort Moon, and Hay Moon.
August: Sturgeon Moon
Many Native American tribes would fish for sturgeon during August, thus giving the month’s full moon the name Sturgeon Moon.
The fish were once found in much of the U.S. and Canada, but the population has been significantly depleted due to overfishing.
Other names: Grain Moon, Green Corn Moon, Fruit Moon, and Barley Moon.
September: Harvest Moon/Corn Moon
The September full moon is usually the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. However, that sometimes happens in early October instead.
The name Corn Moon is used nearly as often.
Other names: Barley Moon.
October: Hunter’s Moon
As previously mentioned, October’s full moon is sometimes referred to as the Harvest Moon if it’s the closest full moon to the autumnal equinox. However, it’s more commonly referred to as the Hunter’s Moon. This is because October was when people in the Northern Hemisphere would begin preparing for winter by hunting, slaughtering and preserving meat.
Other names: Blood Moon, Sanguine Moon, Travel Moon and Dying Grass Moon.
November: Beaver Moon
Colonists and Native Americans used beaver furs to keep warm during winter. They’d set traps in November before swamps froze over to make sure they had enough fur for the cold months ahead. Beavers also became more active during November, making it that much easier to trap them, thus the name Beaver Moon.
Due to hunting, the beaver population in North America has dwindled to about 12 million, where it used to be about 60 million, according to TimeandDate.com.
Other names: Frost Moon, Trading Moon, Snow Moon and Mourning Moon.
December: Cold Moon
The naming of December’s full moon is pretty straightforward — it’s cold in December in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere. More specifically, it’s usually the first month in many areas where it gets really cold and stays that way.
Other names: Long Nights Moon, Moon Before Yule, Oak Moon and Wolf Moon.
The Blue Moon has nothing to do with color. Most commonly, a Blue Moon occurs when there are two full moons in the same month. The first would get the traditional name, while the second moon is called the Blue Moon.
An alternative definition considers a Blue Moon the third full moon in an astronomical season with four full moons, according to TimeandDate.com. A typical season has three full moons.
Lunar and solar eclipses
There will be two total lunar eclipses and two partial solar eclipses in 2022, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Partial solar eclipses occur when the moon passes in front of the sun but only blocks some of its light. Be sure to wear proper eclipse glasses to safely view solar eclipses, as the sun’s light can be damaging to the eye.
A partial solar eclipse on April 30 can be seen by those in southern South America, the southeastern Pacific Ocean and the Antarctic peninsula. Another one on Oct. 25 will be visible to those in Greenland, Iceland, Europe, northeastern Africa, the Middle East, western Asia, India and western China. Neither of the partial solar eclipses will be visible from North America.
A lunar eclipse can occur only during a full moon when the sun, Earth and moon align, and the moon passes into Earth’s shadow. Earth casts two shadows on the moon during the eclipse. The penumbra is the partial outer shadow, and the umbra is the full, dark shadow.
When the full moon moves into Earth’s shadow, it darkens, but it won’t disappear. Sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere lights the moon in a dramatic fashion, turning it red — which is why this is often referred to as a “blood moon.”
Depending on the weather conditions in your area, it may be rusty, brick-colored or blood red.
This happens because blue light undergoes stronger atmospheric scattering, so red light will be the most dominant color highlighted as sunlight passes through our atmosphere and casts it on the moon.
A total lunar eclipse will be visible to those in Europe, Africa, South America and North America (excepting northwestern regions) between 9:31 p.m. ET on May 15 and 2:52 a.m. ET on May 16.
Another total lunar eclipse will also be on display for those in Asia, Australia, the Pacific, South America and North America on Nov. 8 between 3:01 a.m. ET and 8:58 a.m. ET — but the moon will be setting for those in eastern regions of North America.
This year kicked off with the Quadrantid meteor shower in January, but the next meteor shower won’t peak until April.
Here are the remaining 11 showers to watch for in 2022:
• Eta Aquariids: May 4-5
• Southern delta Aquariids: July 29-30
• Alpha Capricornids: July 30-31
• Southern Taurids: Nov. 4-5
• Northern Taurids: Nov. 11-12
If you live in an urban area, you may want to drive to a place that isn’t littered with city lights that will obstruct your view.
Find an open area with a wide view of the sky. Make sure you have a chair or blanket so you can look straight up. And give your eyes about 20 to 30 minutes — without looking at your phone or other electronics — to adjust to the darkness so the meteors will be easier to spot.