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Tonight's "Worm Moon" coincides with a subtle lunar eclipse

As the first full moon of the spring season draws near, stargazers are in for a fascinating event. March’s full moon, known as the Worm Moon, will coincide with a “subtle” lunar eclipse. This phenomenon is set to unfold in the late hours of Sunday night extending into the early hours of Monday morning.

According to NASA, the unique astronomical event is set to captivate audiences across the Americas.

“As the full moon rises during the late evening of March 24 into the early morning hours of March 25, it will travel through the Earth’s penumbra, or the faint outer part of its shadow. This is called a penumbral eclipse,” explained NASA.

“The lunar eclipse will be visible to all of North and South America. The Moon will dim very slightly over those few nighttime hours, which can make for an interesting timelapse, even if it can be difficult to notice by just a glance at the sky.”

Understanding the “subtle” lunar eclipse

Lunar eclipses occur in three types: total, partial, and penumbral. This upcoming eclipse is classified as a penumbral lunar eclipse, where the moon passes through the faint, outer part of Earth’s shadow. 

Unlike its more dramatic counterparts, the penumbral eclipse is known for its subtlety, casting only a slight decrease in the moon’s brightness. 

“It’s usually difficult to see, but you might see the difference if you look before the eclipse and then at the peak,” said NASA. “At the peak observers can sometimes see a subtle gradient in brightness across the Moon’s face.”

The eclipse will commence at 1:00 a.m. ET (10 p.m. PT) on Monday, lasting until 5:30 a.m. ET (2:30 a.m. PT). The timing of the eclipse offers a great viewing opportunity for those in the right geographical locations, under clear weather conditions. 

The next anticipated lunar eclipse, a partial one, is expected on September 18, 2024, and will be visible in the Americas, Europe, and Africa.

How the Worm Moon got its name

The March full moon is commonly known as the Worm Moon. This name refers to the time of year when the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts reappear, and the return of robins and other birds signal the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

However, the Farmers Almanac reports that there is another explanation for the name of March’s full moon. In writings from the 1760s, Captain Jonathan Carver attributed the name to beetle larvae, rather than earthworms, emerging from the thawing bark of trees.

When to watch the Worm Moon 

The Worm Moon will reach its peak illumination at 3:00 A.M. ET on Monday, March 25, 2024. In case of poor weather, the following night provides another opportunity to witness the beauty of the full moon and the subtle shades of the eclipse.

Lunar eclipses often occur in close succession with solar eclipses, either preceding or following the lunar event by a couple of weeks. A total solar eclipse is set to traverse North America on April 8, and will be visible in regions across Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. 

This sequence of celestial events – from the subtle penumbral lunar eclipse accompanying the Worm Moon to the total solar eclipse – highlights the dynamic and ever-changing nature of our universe.

Various names for the Worm Moon 

While it is commonly known as the Worm Moon, a name attributed to the Algonquin tribes of Native Americans, it is also known as the Sap Moon – marking the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins. 

In some cultures, the March full moon is called the Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signals the end of winter, or the Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night.

Religious significance of the Worm Moon 

The March full moon holds significant religious and cultural importance in various traditions around the world. It often marks important festivals and observances:


The date of Easter, the most important Christian holiday, is determined by the first full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox. This is why Easter can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25. 


The Jewish holiday of Purim, which commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman in the ancient Persian Empire, sometimes falls around the time of the March full moon. The holiday is celebrated on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, which is a lunar month, so its date varies in relation to the Gregorian calendar.


Holi, the festival of colors and love that celebrates the victory of good over evil, is closely associated with the full moon in March. It marks the end of winter and the arrival of spring. Holi begins on the evening of the full moon (Purnima) in the Hindu month of Phalguna, which typically falls in March.


Magha Puja, also known as Sangha Day, is celebrated on the full moon of the third lunar month. It commemorates a day when 1,250 disciples spontaneously gathered to hear the Buddha preach. This day emphasizes the importance of the Buddhist community and is marked by prayer, meditation, and offerings.

Symbol of hope and renewal 

The full moon has been a guide for agricultural practices and timekeeping throughout human history, marking a period of brightness in the otherwise dark night sky, which was used to plan activities before the advent of modern lighting.

The Worm Moon heralds the end of winter and the beginning of spring, a period of renewal and rebirth in nature. 

This concept of rebirth and renewal can be found in various cultures around the world, each with its own unique traditions and interpretations of this springtime full moon. 

However, the theme of emerging from the darkness of winter into the light and life of spring is a common thread, making the Worm Moon a symbol of hope and growth across different societies.


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