Published 1:11 PM EST Mar 5, 2020
The first supermoon of the year is coming to a sky near you Monday.
This month, the full moon is also known as the worm moon.
March’s full moon will reach peak fullness at 1:48 p.m. EDT Monday, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. “So look for the spectacularly bright moon as it rises above the horizon that evening,” the Almanac said.
This year, the March full moon will also be the first of three straight full-moon supermoons and the year’s second-closest full moon overall, EarthSky said.
A supermoon occurs when the moon is especially close to Earth while it’s full.
The moon’s closeness to Earth, naturally, makes it look extra-big and extra-bright – up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than a full moon at its farthest point from Earth.
Monday, our moon will be “only” about 222,081 miles miles from Earth, which is about 16,000 miles closer than average.
The moon’s distance from the Earth changes because its orbit isn’t a circle. When the moon is closest to Earth, astronomers call it “perigee,” according to Space.com. When the full moon coincides with perigee, you’ve got a supermoon.
Bigger and brighter than a typical full moon, the term “supermoon” was coined in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle. It’s become an increasingly more popular and media-friendly term in the decades since.
The full moon this month is nicknamed the worm moon.
For millennia, people across the world, including Native Americans, named the months after nature’s cues. According to the Old Farmers’ Almanac, full moon names in our part of the world date back to the Native Americans who lived in the northern and eastern USA. Each full moon has its own name.
“The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon,” the almanac said. “Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred.”
Why is this month’s moon called the worm moon? “At this time of the year, the ground begins to soften enough for earthworm casts to reappear, inviting robins and other birds to feed – a true sign of spring,” according to the almanac. “Roots start to push their way up through the soil, and the Earth experiences a re-birth as it awakens from its winter slumber.”
The March full moon is also known as the sap moon, since this is the time of year when the sap of sugar maples starts to flow.
Clock confusion? Daylight saving time begins Sunday. Are you ready to spring forward?