Supermoon: 'Worm moon' to illuminate Monday night sky

8 March 2020, 17:12

Last year's worm moon rises in Kashmir
Last year's worm moon rises in Kashmir. Picture: PA

By Megan White

The second supermoon of the year is set to light up the night sky and delight skygazers on Monday evening.

It is dubbed the “worm moon” and will be visible from 5.30pm.

But how did it get its name and where can you see it?

A blue super moon rises over the City of London
A blue super moon rises over the City of London. Picture: PA

When and where can I see the worm moon?

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

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

The moon will set in the west at sunrise on Tuesday morning around 7.13am.

Why is it called the “worm moon”?

Royal Observatory astronomer Emily Drabek-Maunder said: "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."

A super moon rises above the Shard
A super moon rises above the Shard. Picture: PA

Why is called a “supermoon”?

According to NASA’s Gordon Johnston, the term "Supermoon" was coined by the astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979.

In a blog post, he wrote: “It refers to either a new or full Moon that occurs when the Moon is within 90 per cent of perigee, its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.

“By this definition, in a typical year there can be 3 or 4 full Supermoons in a row and 3 or 4 new Supermoons in a row.

“In practice, what catches the public's attention are the full Moons that appear biggest (and therefore brightest) each year.

“For 2020, the four full Moons from February to May meet this 90 per cent threshold, with the full Moons in March and April nearly tied.

“The full Moon next month will be slightly closer to the Earth (about 0.1 per cent) than this March full Moon.”

How long will it last?

The Moon will appear full for about 3 days.

The first supermoon event of 2020 occurred last month and the next one will take place on April 8.

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