March brings us a Worm Full Moon on the morning of the 18th. The moon will appear full for about 3 nights in a row starting on the night of March 17th.
In case you hadn’t noticed we are already well on our way toward spring. The earth is warming up. A sure sign of spring is earthworms! That is how the March moon got its name. Soon you will see robins and other birds flying in to get a juicy worm snack! Then there is another story about March’s moon. It goes back to the 18th century. Explorer Captain Jonathan Carver noticed beetle larvae (which looked very much like worms) coming out of the thawing tree bark. The beetles had various winter hiding places. Warm weather brought them out. The name Worm Moon stuck.
Other March moon names reflect nature and what happens in the transition from winter to spring. Native Americans had names like Sugar Moon or Sap Moon because they saw the sap running in the sugar maple trees. Other tribes called it Wind Strong Moon, referring to windy days. And finally, there was the name Sore Eyes Moon. Why? Because of strong March sunlight. The bright rays reflected off hard-packed snow and hurt your eyes!
There is a lot happening in March. On March 13th we “spring ahead” one hour and begin Daylight Savings Time. I look forward to that extra hour of daylight in the evenings. I don’t so much like the darker mornings.
March 20th we mark the vernal equinox or First Day of Spring. The timing of the First Day of Spring gives us more moon names. When a full moon occurs in March before the vernal equinox it is called a Lenten Full Moon. We have one of those on March 18th. Then the full moon that comes after the vernal equinox is called Paschal Full Moon. In April we have one of those. The word paschal relates to Passover or to Easter.
Along with Easter comes the observance of Lent that is familiar to many of us. Religious denominations such as Catholics, Lutherans, and Presbyterians observe this season of prayer, fasting, and penitence. They follow it for 40 weekdays prior to Easter. Lent starts on Ash Wednesday (This year March 2) and ends on Maundy Thursday (This year April 14). Many people temporarily give up something they like or enjoy for Lent.
Did you ever wonder why Easter is a movable holiday? It’s not on the same date year after year. It can fall on the calendar anywhere from late March to late April. It can be as early as March 22 and as late as April 25. Here is the formula—–Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Wow, that’s a lot to remember! But it is always true.
Check out this year’s formula. March 20 is the vernal equinox. April 16 is the first full moon after the vernal equinox. April 17 is Easter Sunday.
The night sky is always fascinating to me. I have written several times about the planet Venus. I enjoy looking for it outside and it is very noticeable in March. It stays near its current position until mid-summer. I can spot it from my window at 5 a.m. It comes up about 2 hours before sunrise and looks like a bright morning star.
Did you also know that Venus has been referred to as our sister planet or our twin? It is similar in size, mass, and volume to Earth. Venus is about 95% our size. It consists of a metal core, then a mantle of liquid rock, and finally an outer crust of solid rock. However, much of what makes up Venus is still a mystery to scientists. The similarities end when we look further. Venus is closer to the Sun and therefore hotter! The average temperature there is 864 degrees Fahrenheit! There is a thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide. Not a place for us! We couldn’t breathe and we’d burn up! We wouldn’t last a minute on Venus!
Yet despite her unwelcome atmosphere Venus was named after the Roman goddess of love. And she looks so peaceful out there as a bright morning star!