March 2024 Full Worm Moon

March’s full Worm Moon, the first full Moon of spring, occurs at 3:00AM EDT on March 25, 2024. To our eyes the Moon will look full and round the nights of March 24, 25 and 26. Traditionally it’s called the Worm Moon because March is when the ground begins to thaw, and earthworms begin to wiggle up from their underground burrows. It was thought only southern Native American tribes called it by this name. Early northern Native American tribes didn’t see earthworms in March as all soil dwelling worms were wiped out during the last ice age by glaciers coving most of the northeast and upper Midwest.  However, it’s now believed that the Dakota and other northern tribes used this name in recognition of another sign of spring, the emergence of beetle larvae, a different type of worm that begins emerging from under thawing tree bark and other places this time of year. 

Native Americans have several other names for this Moon that describe the transition from winter to spring. The Shawnee call this Moon the Sap or Sugar Moon. The Shoshone call it the Warming Moon.  The Pueblo people call it the Wind Strong Moon. The Algonquin call it the Eagle Moon. Northern Ojibwe call this Moon the Crow Comes Back Moon. For Christians this full Moon is called the Paschal Full Moon.  A Paschal Moon is the first full Moon after the spring equinox which this year is March 19. Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon. 

We have all heard about the total solar eclipse on April 8. A solar eclipse always occurs about two weeks before or after a lunar eclipse. The Worm Moon coincides with a penumbral lunar eclipse which will be visible to us from start to finish. A penumbral eclipse occurs when the Moon is in the lighter part of Earth’s shadow, not the dark umbra part of the shadow. At no time will the umbra take a bite out of the Moon.  Darkening of the Moon’s disk during a penumbral eclipse is very subtle and usually difficult to observe. Most folks won’t even realize the eclipse is happening. The eclipse begins at 12:53AM on March 25th, the maximum or middle of the eclipse occurs at about 3:12AM and the eclipse is over at about 5:32AM. The entire eclipse lasts over four hours.

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