Did you see the full “Worm Moon” this week?
The third and final full Moon of winter, the “Worm Moon” came just a few days before the vernal or northward equinox on Sunday, March 20, 2022, which signals the beginning of astronomical spring in the northern hemisphere.
It also came a few days after a Chinese rocket crashed into its surface and year asteroid the size of a grand piano crashed into earth.
Also called the Crow Moon, the Crust Moon, the Sap Moon and the Chaste Moon, our satellite turned full at 07:17 UTC on Friday, March 18, 2022.
What follows are images of the full—or almost full—“Worm Moon” from around the world either on Thursday evening or on Friday when various parts of the world got their best view.
This first one, below, was taken by Matthias Maurer, an astronaut from Germany with the European Space Agency currently on the International Space Station (ISS):
A full Moon is when Earth is between the Sun and the Moon. Consequently the Moon appears to be fully illuminated from Earth’s perspective, though it’s purely a line of sight illusion since 50% of the Moon is always lit by the Sun. Here’s the full Moon in all its glory as seen on Thursday evening from Gaza City in Palestine:
Why the yellowy color? As the Moon rises above horizon the observer sees its reflected light streaming through a lot of the Earth’s atmosphere. Light towards the blue end of the spectrum has shorter wavelengths so is scattered on particles in the Earth’s atmosphere while light towards the red end of the spectrum—in this case orange and yellow—has longer wavelengths so travel through to your eyes more easily. Here’s an example of that below, as seen from the Monument in Washington DC
You can see that the result is that a moonrise looks at first bright orange, turning to a pale yellow as it rises, then finally to a bright, white orb as it rises higher into the night sky. You can see an example of the latter here in this fabulous photo from London from Thursday of the full “Worm Moon” high in the sky. It was shot by expert Moon photographer Lesley Bound, who images our natural satellite every time it turns full.
This photo from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, of an airplane in front of the lunar surface may look odd to some of you. Why is the Moon “upside down?” Of course, it’s not, but it may look that way to someone from the northern hemisphere. Those in the southern hemisphere see the Moon the other way up because it orbits roughly around Earth’s equator.
Meanwhile, the full “Worm Moon” put in an appearance (below) in the background of photos taken of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) as it rolled-out to a launch pad in Florida for a dress rehearsal.
Its next job, probably in June, will be to launch an uncrewed Orion capsule beyond the Moon as the Artemis 1 mission tests NASA’s plan to land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon in the mid-2020s.
Here’s another image from the Kennedy Space Center of the “Worm Moon,” this time beneath a NASA helicopter flying near the Space Launch System rocket:
The next full Moon will be the full “Pink Moon,” which will occur on Sunday, April 16, 2022. It will be the first full Moon of spring 2022.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.