ST. GEORGE — As winter makes way for Spring, the first of three straight supermoons of the year will light up the night sky Monday night.
This supermoon, which is any new or full moon that closely coincides with perigee, the moon’s closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit, or within 224,800 miles from Earth, is also referred to as a “Worm Moon.” It is referred to as a Worm Moon because it comes out during the time of year when the ground begins to soften enough for earthworm casts to reappear, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Monday’s supermoon is the year’s second-closest full moon and will appear full for about three days. In North America, the moon will become full during the daylight hours of March 9 when the moon is beneath the horizon. And since all full moons are opposite the sun, any moon at the vicinity of being a full moon looks more or less full for a couple of nights.
During any typical year, there can be three or four full supermoons in a row. What makes them so unusual is that they appear as the biggest and brightest orbital nightlights of the year.
“So look for the spectacularly bright moon as it rises above the horizon that evening,” according to the almanac.
According to NASA, this supermoon is also referred to under a myriad of other names, including a “Crow Moon,” Sap Moon,” and others, names that are derived from the Farmer’s Almanac that first published “Indian” names for the full moons in the 1930s. The more northern tribes of the northeastern United States knew this as the Crow Moon since it happened when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter.
Other northern names were the “Crust Moon,” since the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing by night. It’s also known as the Sap Moon, as this is the time for tapping maple trees.
By contrast, the smallest and most distant full moon of the year, a “blue moon” will appear Oct. 31 and will be more than 252,300 miles from Earth. It is called a blue moon because it will be the second of two full moons to occur in a single calendar month.
On Monday evening as twilight ends, the bright planet Venus will appear about 32 degrees above the horizon in the west, while the brightest of the stars scattered across the sky, Sirius, will appear about 34 degrees above the horizon in the south-southwest.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.