A blue moon light up the sky on March 31.
( (HarveNYC | flickr))
Stargazers, get your binoculars ready: a blue moon will grace the heavens this weekend marks the end of a breathtaking month.
A “worm moon rose on March 1, and a rare parade of planets, such as Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Mercury and Venus together with the bright star Antares, lit up the sky from March 7 to March 11.
Now is the time for the blue moon to shine.
Here is what you need to know about March is the full moon the “worm moon” and “blue moon” and the parade of the planets on a show during the first week of March.
What is a “blue moon”?
A blue moon is the second full moon within the same month.
The term “blue moon” has been around since the 1940’s. The name is used only to distinguish it from the full moon as the second to appear within a calendar month.
Full moons are not really rare. They occur on average each 29.53 days (12.37 times a year), Space.com reported. But to catch a glimpse of a two times in a month is a special treat. It happens only every three years or so.
It is even more fun to place two blue moons in a year.
There is almost always a full moon in February. In fact, the month is only without a full moon every 19 years.
“The last time that February not a full moon was in 1999, and the time before that was 1980,” Space.com reported. “The next time there will be no full moon in February 2037.”
Because February had only 28 days, this year is the full moon carried over to March, confirmation of 31 March full moon would be a “blue”.
It is possible that the full moon a blue tint, but it is not likely.
“The most blue moons look pale gray and white, indistinguishable from any other moon you’ve ever seen,” NASA says. “Squeezing a second full moon in a calendar month does not change the physical properties of the moon itself, so the color remains the same.”
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When can I see it?
In contrast to the “worm moon,””blue moon” will reach peak fullness early in the morning at 8:37 pm ET on March 31.
Don’t miss it! The next blue moon will not come again until the spring of 2019.
What is a “Planet Parade”?
A parade of planets, such as Jupiter, Mars and Saturn will be visible from 4 March to 11 March.
(Photo courtesy of NASA/Newsmakers)
A “Planet Parade” is a galactic event that occurs when a group of planets visible with the naked eye.
The moon will shift from a reported 12 degrees per night, giving skywatchers a good view of a string of planets.
“The Moon will shift along this line of stars and planets, … in the neighbourhood of Jupiter on the 7th of March, between Mars and Jupiter and above the bright star Antares on the 8th of March, in the vicinity of Mars on 9 March, between Mars and Saturn on March 10, and near Saturn on March 11,” NASA explained.
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Stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere, drew the five planets, or during the “post-sunset or dawn hours,” according to The Weather Channel.
See all 5 bright planets in March https://t.co/Tol9xs2C3L
You can’t see them at the same time. But, especially from the Northern Hemisphere, March 2018 is a good month for catching all 5 bright planets, either after sunset or before sunrise. pic.twitter.com/tE7rkvHOYs
— EarthSky (@earthskyscience) 2 March 2018
“The best chance for viewing Wednesday morning will be in parts of the south and the Rockies,” The Weather Channel said. “The South and parts of the West will be the best places for viewing from Thursday morning.”
Stargazers were able to view Mars, Jupiter and Saturn around midnight of March 7 to March 11. The red planet is the first to rise, and the other slightly dimmer of the planets followed an hour later.
“Jupiter is very bright. It is brighter than any object in the sky, except for Venus, so you have no problems with spotting after the rises on your eastern horizon within an hour or so after midnight,” EarthSky.org reported at the time. “Red Mars and golden Saturn are much thinner, and they will not rise until closer to dawn.”
In contrast to these three planets, Mercury and Venus was easy to see, right after sunset between March 18 and March 20.
“Venus will act as a guide for the Mercury, because that is about 12 times bigger than Mercury now,” EarthSky.org explained. “These two worlds are now very close together on the sky’s dome.”
At the end of the month, when the “blue moon” rises, Saturn and Mars will appear together.
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What is a “worm moon”?
A full moon, nicknamed the “worm moon,” it decorates the night sky earlier this month.
(Sergio Estupiñán Vesga)
The March 1 moon was nicknamed “the worm moon” by the Old Farmer’s Almanac in the 1930’s, because it is a sign that spring has finally arrived.
It was named “worm moon” after “earthworm casts, which appear as the ground thaws,” NASA wrote in a post online.
South italians are more likely to use the term, because they have an abundance of earthworms, in contrast to the northern part of the US.
“When glaciers covered the northern part of North America they wiped out the native earthworms,” NASA explained. “These glaciers melted about 12,000 years ago, and the forests grew back without earthworms.”
While the “worm moon” is the moon the most popular nickname, there are several other names for the last full moon of winter, including: the sugar moon, crow moon, crust moon, and the corn of the moon.