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The last full moon of winter will light up the sky this week, coinciding with another special opportunity for sky-watchers.
Named the worm moon by Native American tribes in the 18th century in reference to various creatures emerging from their winter hiding to welcome spring, the March moon will reach its peak light at 7:42 a.m. ET on Tuesday, March 7, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. But someone who looks up at the right moment can also catch an amazing planetary phenomenon.
“What’s a little more interesting now, and also visible tonight and this week, is the close and prominent placement of Venus and Jupiter in the western sky just after sunset,” said Mike Hankey, operations manager for the American Meteor Society. via e-mail. . “The astronomical word for this is ‘conjunction.’ These planets will set as the moon rises, so they will only be visible for about an hour at sunset, near the western horizon.”
People who get some rain Monday or Tuesday night may also spot a moonbow, which is like a solar rainbow but produced by moonlight refracting through water droplets in the air, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Moonbows only happen when a full moon is low in the sky, so look for them after sunset when the sky is dark.
The Worm Moon is not your last chance to catch a special space or celestial event. Here are full moons, eclipses and meteor showers to watch for this year.
Most years have 12 full moons, but 2023 will have 13, with two – which are supermoons – occurring in August. Supermoons are brighter and closer to Earth than normal and therefore appear larger in the sky.
Here’s the list of full moons remaining in 2023, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac:
- April 6: Pink Moon
- May 5: Flower Moon
- June 3: Strawberry Moon
- July 3: Capricorn Moon
- August 1: Sturgeon Moon
- August 30: Blue Moon
- September 29: Harvest Moon
- October 28: Hunter’s Moon
- November 27: Beaver Moon
- December 26: Cold Moon
There will be two solar eclipses and two lunar eclipses in 2023.
A total solar eclipse – when the moon moves between the sun and Earth and blocks the sun – will be visible to people in Australia, Southeast Asia and Antarctica on April 20.
An annular solar eclipse will occur on October 14 and be visible across North, Central and South America. This is when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, when the moon is at or near its furthest point from the earth – making the moon appear smaller than the sun and creating a glowing ring around the moon.
When viewing solar eclipses, wear proper solar eclipse glasses to avoid eye-damaging sunlight.
A penumbral lunar eclipse — when the moon moves through the penumbra, the dim, outer part of Earth’s shadow — will occur on May 5 for those in Africa, Asia and Australia.
On October 28, a partial lunar eclipse will be visible to people in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, parts of North America and much of South America. It’s when the sun, earth and moon don’t exactly match, so that only part of the moon goes into shadow.
There are 11 more meteor showers to catch this year, and they are most visible from late evening to dawn in areas unaffected by light pollution.
Here are their peak dates:
- Lyrids: 22.-23. April
- Eta Aquariids: 5.-6. May
- Southern Delta Aquariids: 30-31 July
- Alpha Capricorn: 30-31. July
- Perseids: 12.-13. August
- Orionids: 20.-21. October
- Southern Taurids: 4.-5. November
- Northern Taurids: 11.-12. November
- Leonidas: 17.-18. November
- Geminids: 13.-14. December
- Clock pages: 21.-22. December