The third full Moon of 2021, the so-called Worm Moon with a squirmy name, is wriggling ever closer, taking to the night sky in late March.

The third full Moon of 2021, the so-called Worm Moon, is wriggling ever closer, taking to the night sky in late March.

But when exactly can you see the Worm Moon? Why does it have that rather squirmy name? And how can you take a photo of it that doesn’t look like an underwhelming white spec? We’ve answered all these lunar quandaries and more below.

Plus, if you’re looking for more stargazing tips, be sure to check out our full Moon UK calendar and astronomy for beginners guide.

When is the Worm Moon 2021?

The Worm Moon can be seen from Sunday 28 March 2021 in the UK (and around the rest of the Earth).

Technically, the Moon is only ‘full’ – reflecting the maximum amount of sunlight onto Earth – for only a short period. This happens when Earth comes exactly between the Moon and the Sun, a moment known as ‘syzygy’.

In the UK, this will happen at 7.48pm on 28 March (remember, in the UK, the clocks go forward by one hour from 1am this day due to British Summer Time).

Don’t worry if you miss this moment of syzygy, though: to the naked eye, the Moon will appear full for another two to three nights.

Why is it called a Worm Moon?

Like other names full Moons are given throughout the year, there’s no overall agreement why the Worm Moon is called so.

Several sources claim it originates from a group of Native Americans who named the Worm Moon after the worm trails that become visible on the newly-thawed ground as spring begins.

However, giving March’s full Moon this name officially could open up a whole can of worms.

“No one seems to know who is inventing these generalisations,” says Dr Das Baskill, physics and astronomy lecturer at the University of Sussex.

He adds: “There could also be some cultural insensitivity in grouping all Native Americans into one group.”

Indeed, Native Americans are as extremely diverse as Europeans in terms of language and culture. This means different tribes gave vastly different names for what many call the ‘Worm Moon’ ­– everything from the ‘moose hunter Moon’, to the ‘snow crust Moon’ and even the ‘sore eye Moon’.

As Prof Bill Leatherbarrow, director of the British Astronomical Association’s Lunar Section adds: “The problem is that each month’s full Moon seems to have some kind of name attached to it, usually drawn from different cultures.

“It’s all relative, and there is no scientific rationale or objective authority on which to base the names.”

How often do full Moons take place?

A full Moon occurs roughly every 29.5 days, the length of one lunar cycle. This means it happens around once a month (our word for ‘month’ is actually rooted in the word ‘Moon’).

The next full Moon, which some call the ‘Pink Moon’, will occur on Tuesday 27 April 2021. It will be a supermoon, appearing 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter in the sky.

Originally published at Science Focus