'Worm moon', two planets to illuminate sky tonight

Tonight at 5:42 pm, skywatchers can witness winter's last full moon, called worm moon, as well as Jupiter and Venus right after sunset

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Web Desk
Full moon rises over the Gazprom Nefts oil refinery in Omsk, Russia February 10, 2020.— Reuters
Full moon rises over the Gazprom Neft's oil refinery in Omsk, Russia February 10, 2020.— Reuters

You must rush to the rooftop tonight to witness the sky decorated with stunning celestial bodies. This week, the final full moon of the winter will illuminate the sky, providing skywatchers with yet another unique opportunity.

Why is it called a worm moon?

The March moon is known as the "worm moon". It was named so by Native American tribes in the 18th century as a reference to various critters emerging from their winter dens to welcome spring. The worm moon will achieve its highest light around 7:42 am ET on Tuesday, March 7, or 5:42 pm Pakistani time. 

But, if someone were to glance up at the correct time, they might also see a breathtaking planetary phenomenon.

“What is a little more interesting now, and also visible tonight and this week, are the close and prominent positioning of Venus and Jupiter in the western sky right after sunset,” Mike Hankey, operations manager for the American Meteor Society told CNN in an email. “The astronomical word for this is ‘conjunction.’ These planets will be setting as the moon is rising, so they are only visible for about an hour at sunset, near the western horizon.”

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, anyone who experiences light rain on Tuesday night may also be able to see a moonbow, which resembles a solar rainbow but is created when moonlight is refracted over airborne water droplets. Look for moonbows after sunset when the sky is dark since they only occur when a full moon is low in the sky.

The worm moon is not your only opportunity to view a noteworthy space or sky occurrence. Here are this year's full moons and meteor showers to be aware of.

Full moons and supermoons

Supermoons appear larger in the sky because they are brighter and closer to Earth than usual.

The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the remaining full moons in 2023 as follows:

  • April 6: Pink moon
  • May 5: Flower moon
  • June 3: Strawberry moon
  • July 3: Buck 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

Meteor showers

There are still 11 meteor showers to see this year, and light pollution-free places should be able to see them best from dusk to dawn.

Here are the peak dates as reported by CNN:

  • Lyrids: April 22-23
  • Eta Aquariids: May 5-6
  • Southern Delta Aquariids: July 30-31
  • Alpha Capricornids: July 30-31
  • Perseids: August 12-13
  • Orionids: October 20-21
  • Southern Taurids: November 4-5
  • Northern Taurids: November 11-12
  • Leonids: November 17-18
  • Geminids: December 13-14
  • Ursids: December 21-22