We had a grand total of three supermoons this year – the first was in January, one blessed us with its presence in February, and the third and final supermoon for 2019 is happening on 21 March.
At 3:42 to be precise, in South Africa. If you’re anywhere else in the world, scroll down to view the exact times.
And being the last supermoon of the year, it behooves us to look up and bask in its magnificence. Set your alarm if you must. It can be observed with the naked eye and you won’t even need special equipment to see it.
This month’s supermoon has the unfortunate name of “full worm supermoon.” Nope, we really aren’t making this up, we swear. So brace yourself for a beauitul “but disappointingly named moon,” as IFLScience so aptly describes it.
Not only does it have an unfortunate name, it’s also quite rare. This is the first time in nearly two decades that a supermoon coincides with the spring equinox.
An Equinox – or spring equinox, in this case – is the point at which “the Earth’s equator passes through the centre of our Sun.” Basically, that just means that the day and night is of equal length.
But what is a supermoon?
A supermoon’s scientific term is “perigean full moon” or “perigee syzygy,” and a perigee just means “close to the Earth.”
Now, when a full moon coincides with a perigee, we get a super moon. A moon that appears unusually larger because it’s in its closest orbit around Earth.
It might not look bigger than usual to the untrained eye, however, it will only be a mere 360 772 kilometers from Earth. It will be approximately 14% bigger and 30% brighter than usual.
Times to view:
- 01:42 GMT, 21 March (London)
- 02:42 CET, 21 March (mainland Europe)
- 21:42 EDT, 20 March (Washinton D.C.)
- 20:42 CDT, 20 March (Chicago)
- 19:42 MDT, 20 March (Denver)
- 18:42 MST & PDT, 20 March (Phoenix & Los Angeles)
- 17:42 AKDT, 20 March (Alaska)
- 15:42 HST, 20 March (Hawaii)
Why is it called a worm moon?
All the other full moons have cool names. The full moon in January had the rockstar ‘wolf moon’ moniker, while February’s was called ‘snow moon.’
April and June are cute – ‘pink moon’ and ‘strawberry moon’ respectively – while May is ‘flower moon’, July is ‘buck moon’ and August is ‘sturgeon moon.’ And so on. Fancy names. Pretty names.
Not March. March is stuck with ‘worm moon.’ This unfortunate full moon coincides with the time when earthworms start to emerge at the end of winter. (In the northern hemisphere.)
There’s still hope for March, as this month’s full moon is also unofficially known as ‘crow moon,’ ‘crust moon’, ‘sap moon’, and ‘chaste moon,’ according to Time And Date.
Watch: Moon names explained
Upcoming lunar events (2019)
If you miss March’s worm moon, these are some of the celestial events you can look forward to in the upcoming months:
- April 22, 23 – Lyrids Meteor Shower. The Lyrids is an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak.
- May 6, 7 – Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Eta Aquarids is an above average shower, capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak.
- July 2 – Total Solar Eclipse. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks the Sun, revealing the Sun’s beautiful outer atmosphere known as the corona.
- July 16 – Partial Lunar Eclipse. A partial lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s partial shadow, or penumbra, and only a portion of it passes through the darkest shadow, or umbra.
- August 12, 13 – Perseids Meteor Shower. The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862.
- November 17, 18 – Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids is an average shower, producing up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak.
- December 26 – Annular Solar Eclipse. An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is too far away from the Earth to completely cover the Sun.