First Full Moon Of March: Worm Moon Illuminates Thursday Night Sky

What is March Madness?
March will host two full moons: the Worm Moon and a Blue Moon. The Worm Moon, as it is called, illuminated the sky this time of the month when worms come out from the ground after winter.  ( Bill Ingalls | NASA )

Two full moons  will light up the night sky this March. First was the March 1 Worm Moon and then a blue moon on March 31.

January was special for sky watchers because of the two supermoons or perigean full moons that occurred that month.

The Worm Moon of March rose Thursday night, while another full moon - the blue moon - will be high in the sky later this month before the spring equinox or the time or date when the day and night are of equal length.

Full Moon Peaks

"It had been raining most of the day, and I wasn't sure I could see the moon. It appeared on and off behind clouds, and I took as many shots as I could before losing it," says Kwong Liew who posted a photo of the Worm Moon that he captured above San Francisco's Bay Bridge.

"Mostly cloudy skies in Vermont as the full moon rises over Mount Ascutney," according to Ray Mandra, another spectator of the Worm Moon.

On March 31, the Blue Moon will rise at 9:42 p.m. and will reach its peak at 8:36 a.m. ET. The best time to see the full moon on that day is just before sunrise.

Moon Nicknames

Why are there different moon names? Full moons are named differently depending on the month they are scheduled to rise.

The first full moon go by different names. It is commonly called as the "Worm Moon" because it is the time of the year when animals start to emerge from their burrowing, and worms come out from the thawing ground after the winter season.

Others call it "Sap Moon" because it marks the time when maple sap begin flowing from trees.
Sometimes it is also called the Crow Moon and Sugar Moon. Europeans call it the "Lenten Moon" because this moon corresponds with the start of the Lent.

Among other nicknames given to full Moons are Flower Moon for May, Harvest Moon for September, and Cold Moon for December.

The second full moon in a single month is referred to as the Blue Moon.

Phases Of The Moon

Each month, the Moon's appearance as seen from the sky varies depending on the cycle of its phases. Phases of the Moon are caused by the changing angle of the sun as the Moon orbits the Earth. Each cycle begins with waxing or growing of the Moon. This phase is seen as a crescent moon visible in the west just after sunset.

During the first quarter, the moon is high in the sky at sunset and sets at around midnight. The full moon rises at sunset and can be seen high in the sky at midnight. The last quarter can be seen in the daylight western sky even after sunrise.

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