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Is the March 2023 full moon tonight? When the ‘worm moon’ peaks in the UK and how the names gained traction

The third full moon of the year is almost upon us, with stargazers in the UK hoping for some respite from a week of snowy conditions for a clear sighting of March’s orb.

Shrouded in mystique for millennia, the full moon has inspired everything from horror films and religious festivals to outlandish doomsday conspiracy theories.

In recent years, it has also led to moon names infiltrating pop culture, with March’s full moon dubbed the “worm moon” – here’s everything you need to know.

Is the March 2023 full moon tonight?

The next full moon will fall on Tuesday 7 March, reaching its peak in the UK at 12.40pm, according to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

While it doesn’t technically fall on Monday night, the moon’s timings mean that it will be most visible in the early hours of Tuesday, as well as later that evening.

Here is the full calendar of full moons for 2023:

  • 6 January (11.07pm)
  • 5 February (6.28pm)
  • 7 March (12.40pm)
  • 6 April (5.34am)
  • 5 May (6.34pm)
  • 4 June (4.41am)
  • 3 July (12.38pm)
  • 1 August (7.31pm)
  • 31 August (2.35am)
  • 29 September (10.57am)
  • 28 October (9.24pm)
  • 27 November (9.16am)
  • 27 December (12.33am)
The full moon, known as the "Super Pink Moon" rises behind the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, April 27, 2021. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo/File Photo
Traditions and rituals have surrounded the full moon for millennia (Photo: Reuters)

Why did names like ‘worm moon’ become a thing?

March’s full moon has come to be known as the “wolf moon” in some quarters, as per the American Farmer’s Almanac, which seems to have become the gold standard for such matters.

According to the publication, its name is not a reference to the earthworms that begin to appear in soil in spring.

Instead, apparently: “In the 1760s, Captain Jonathan Carver visited the Naudowessie (Dakota) and other Native American tribes and wrote that the name Worm Moon refers to a different sort of “worm”—beetle larvae—which begin to emerge from the thawing bark of trees and other winter hideouts at this time.”

More from Science

These moon names, and their purported meanings, have gained increased traction in recent years, with the labels generally attributed to Native American tribes.

They appear to have become more popular after the 2014 lunar eclipse – a phenomenon colloquially referred to a “blood moon,” due to it causing the moon to have a reddish hue – ignited interest in such romanticised names.

There is no standardised Native American calendar, according to Laura Redish, director and cofounder of Native Languages of the Americas, although Nasa says the names derive from the Algonquin tribe, part of a larger cultural linguistic group called Algonquian.

Some of the popularly used names, such as the “strawberry moon” and “harvest moon”, do seem to be Algonquin, according to a list published by Algonquin Nation Tribal Council in 2005.

Others, such as the “wolf moon,” aren’t – the tribe apparently referred to January as “long moon month”.

According to Ms Redish, different tribes used different calendars, and a range of calendars seem to have been swiped for the popularly used names, while some of the popular monikers are essentially fabrications.

The Farmer’s Almanac says its names “come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American and European sources”.

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