Something strange is set to light up the sky on Wednesday night, and it’s your last chance to see anything like it this year. A supermoon will appear among the stars, the third and final extra-big and extra-bright full moon of 2019. Some are calling it the “Super Worm Moon,” which is a helluva name. But it's not as strange as it sounds.
As you may have noticed, the first three months of this year saw three supermoons with unique over-the-top names, though none sound quite as odd as a "worm moon." In January, a Super Blood Wolf Moon occurred when a total lunar eclipse ascended in the skies. The following month saw a Super Snow Moon, and now, CNET reports that stargazers will get the chance to experience a Super Worm Equinox Moon, Super Worm Moon, Full Sap Moon... or whatever you want to call it. This particular lunar event marks the first time a full moon and the vernal equinox have fallen within four hours of each other in 19 years, according to the The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
You may be asking yourself, who comes up with these names? And you wouldn’t be alone in wondering that. Though the answer is a bit simpler than you’d think. While the names seem whimsical and strange, there’s actually a story behind each of them. According to a report by Newsweek, most full moon names have roots that reflect seasonal markers, whether that’s seasonal changes or ties to animal behaviors.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac reported that many traditional moon names were adopted by colonial Americans from Native American Tribes. Many of the names come from Algonquin tribes and others. Supermoon names like the Full Harvest Moon in 2018, for one, recognized the autumn crop harvest. The increased light from the oversized moon allowed farmers to gather the bounty from their fields well into the evening.
Other supermoon names, like the super blood wolf moon, relate to both the reddish color the moon shone that evening, and the animal howling in the midst of winter. Similarly, the Super Snow Moon got its name, unsurprisingly, from the wintery weather when it occurred.
In the case of the upcoming super worm equinox moon, the name has everything to do with the timing. Any full moon in March is dubbed Worm Moon, according to CNET. Spring begins in March and typically brings warmer weather, and thus more worms. As far as the equinox bit, that’s derived from the fact that the moon will appear in the sky on the same evening as Wednesday’s spring equinox. There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Science. Plus, it’ll be a supermoon, so it’ll be 14% closer to Earth and 30% brighter than usual.
The equinox, marking the moment the sun’s rays will shine down directly on the equator, will take place at 5:58pm, according to EarthSky. Your best shot at seeing the full worm supermoon in all its glory will come at about 9:43pm ET. Just do us all a favor and leave the moon photography to the professionals, or at the very least, follow a few of their tips. No one wants to see your blurry picture of a tiny, bright dot in the sky.