The worm’s moon (and, by some definitions, a supermoon)


The Moon, or supermoon, is seen as it rises behind the United States Capitol, Monday, March 9, 2020, in Washington, DC. A supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth. Credit: NASA / Joel Kowsky

The next full moon is the worm, the raven, the bark, the sap, or the sugar moon; Pesach, Easter or Paschal Moon; the moon of the Holi festival; Medin or Madin Poya; the Night Moon of Shab-e-Barat or Bara’at; and (according to some definitions) a Supermoon.

The next full Moon will be on Sunday afternoon, March 28, 2021, and will appear opposite the Sun at Earth’s longitude at 2:48 PM EDT. This will be Monday morning from India time zone east to the International Date Line. The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Saturday morning to Monday night until early Tuesday morning.

The moon rises behind the tower of the Santo Domingo church

The Moon, or supermoon, is seen as it rises behind the spire of Santo Domingo Church, Monday, March 9, 2020, in Washington, DC. A supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth. Credit: NASA / Joel Kowsky

In the 1930s, the Maine Farmer’s Almanac began publishing the names of the moons of the American Indians for each month of the year. According to this almanac, like the full Moon in March it is the Moon of the Raven, the Bark, the Sap, the Sugar or the Worm. It was known to the northernmost tribes of the northeastern United States as the Raven Moon, when the cawing of ravens signaled the end of winter. Other northern names were Crust Moon, because the layer of snow becomes crusted from thawing during the day and freezing at night, or Sap (or Sugar) Moon, since this is the time to touch the maples. The southernmost tribes called this the Worm Moon after the earthworm casts that appear when the ground melts. It makes sense that only the southern tribes called him Moon Worm. When glaciers covered the northern part of North America, they wiped out native earthworms. After these glaciers melted about 12,000 years ago, the northernmost forests grew back without earthworms. Earthworms in these areas are now mostly invasive species introduced from Europe and Asia.

In the Hebrew calendar the months change with the new moon and the full moons fall in the middle of the lunar months. This full moon is in the middle of Nisan, which corresponds to Pesach or Passover. This year, Pesach begins at dusk on March 27 and ends at dusk on April 4, 2021.

In the Western Christian ecclesiastical calendar this is the Paschal Moon, from which the date of Passover is calculated. Pascual is the Latinized version of Pesach. Generally, the Christian holiday of Easter, also called Pascha, is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. However, there are differences between the times of these astronomical events and the different calendars used by the Eastern and Western churches. This is one of the years where it makes a difference. Western Christianity will celebrate Easter on Sunday, April 4, 2021, the Sunday after this first spring full moon. Eastern Christianity will celebrate the Full Moon after the next, as the Paschal Moon and Eastern Orthodox Easter will be celebrated on Sunday, May 2, 2021.

Updating the tradition of naming moons after prominent phenomena tied to the time of year, two years ago my friend Tom Van Wagner suggested naming this as the Pothole Moon. I may drive less due to the pandemic, but in my area, at least, I have not encountered as many potholes this year as in previous years …

Like the full Moon in the Hindu month Phalguna, this Moon corresponds to the Holi festival, which celebrates the victory of good over evil and the beginning of spring. Among other things, Holi includes a free game for everyone that consists of sprinkling colored powders and / or colored water on whoever passes by. In 2021, Holika Dahan will be on March 28 and Holi on March 29.

Every full moon is a public holiday in Sri Lanka. This full moon is Medin or Madin Poya, which marks the Buddha’s first visit to his father after his enlightenment.

In the Chinese lunisolar calendar, the months change with the new moon and the full moons fall in the middle of the lunar months. This full moon is in the middle of the second month of the Chinese calendar.

In the Islamic calendar, the months begin with the first sighting of the crescent crescent moon shortly after the new moon. This full moon is near the middle of Sha’ban, the month before Ramadan and the eighth month of the calendar. Muslims celebrate the 15th of Sha’ban as Shab-e-Barat or Night of Bara’at. Shiite Muslims also celebrate this as Mid-Sha’ban. This year, Shab-e-Barat is expected to begin at sunset on March 28 and end at sunset on March 29, 2021.

The term “supermoon” was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 and refers to a new or full Moon that occurs when the Moon is within 90% of perigee, its closest approach to Earth. Supermoons have become popular in recent decades. Depending on how you interpret this definition, in a typical year there may be 2 to 4 complete supermoons in a row and 2 to 4 new supermoons in a row. Since we cannot see a new Moon (except where it eclipses the Sun), what draws the public’s attention are the super full moons, as this is when the full Moon appears near its largest and brightest each year. Different publications use slightly different thresholds to decide when a full Moon is close enough to Earth to qualify as a supermoon. By 2021, some publications consider the four full moons from March to June, some the three full moons from April to June, and some only the two full moons from April and May as supermoons. The full moons in April and May are nearly even as the closest full moons of the year. The Full Moon on May 26, 2021 will be slightly closer to Earth than the Full Moon on April 26, 2021, but only by a slim 0.04%!

As usual, the wearing of appropriate celebratory heavenly garb in honor of the full moon is encouraged. See if you notice more cawing crows, earthworms, or potholes, and celebrate the beginning of spring, perhaps with some colorful displays (though I don’t recommend spraying strangers with colors unless you’re in an area where everyone expects you due to Holi) .

Moon Supermoon

Credit: NASA / Joel Kowsky

2021 Supermoons – Definition of Supermoons

The term “supermoon” was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 and refers to a new or full Moon that occurs when the Moon is within 90% of perigee, its closest approach to Earth.

Supermoons have become popular in recent decades. Depending on how you interpret this definition, in a typical year there may be 2 to 4 complete supermoons in a row and 2 to 4 new supermoons in a row.

Since we cannot see a new Moon (except where it eclipses the Sun), what draws the attention of the public are the super full moons, as this is when the full Moon appears near its largest and brightest each year.

Different publications use slightly different thresholds to decide when a full Moon is close enough to Earth to qualify as a supermoon.

By 2021, some publications consider the four full moons from March to June, some the three full moons from April to June, and some only the two full moons from April and May as supermoons.

The full moons in April and May are nearly even as the closest full moons of the year. The Full Moon on May 26, 2021 will be slightly closer to Earth than the Full Moon on April 26, 2021, but only by a slim 0.04%!

›More about supermoons



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