What is a worm moon and when is the best time to see it?

9 Mar 2020

Image: Danny Lawson/PA

Stargazers will soon glimpse a supermoon event called a ‘worm moon’, marking the beginning of spring.

The second supermoon of the year is set to light up the night sky and delight skygazers this evening (9 March).

Known as the ‘worm moon’, the celestial event is expected to be visible from 5.35pm after sunset as the moon rises in the east.

Royal Observatory astronomer Emily Drabek-Maunder told the PA news agency: “The March full moon is known as the worm moon, named after earthworms that emerge towards the beginning of spring as the ground thaws.

“Traditionally, monthly full moons are named from Native American tradition, but many also have Anglo-Saxon and Germanic origins. From those different origins, the March full moon has also been called the chaste moon, death moon, crust moon and even the sap moon after sap flowing from sugar maple trees.”

This full moon will also be a supermoon, meaning it will appear about 14pc bigger and 30pc brighter in the sky as it reaches its closest point to Earth.

Drabek-Maunder told PA: “It will be slightly bigger in the sky, though this will not be easily noticeable by eye.”

Infographic showing the moon and Earth during a worm moon.

Image: PA Graphics

Lunar news

The moon will set in the west at sunrise on Tuesday morning around 7.13am, Drabek-Maunder said. The first supermoon event of 2020 occurred last month and the next one will take place on 8 April.

Meanwhile, a string of new moon-related discoveries have emerged in recent weeks, most notably the addition of a ‘second’ moon. The tiny moon measures between one and six metres across and was first spotted by astronomers on 15 February.

It’s believed that the object is a member of a class of asteroids whose orbits cross the Earth’s orbit. Soon, it’s expected to break free from Earth’s gravitational pull and travel back out into space.

Also, on Earth’s alpha moon, China’s Chang’e 4 lunar lander and Yutu-2 rover recently used radar to see beneath the surface of the far side of the moon and reveal its hidden secrets.

Researchers said the findings offer an “unprecedented” look at the moon’s history and could teach us a great deal about its evolution over millions of years.

– PA Media, with additional reporting from Colm Gorey