The full Worm Moon rises on Thursday and Friday night, March 17 and 18. What is a Worm Moon? Here are the real meaning and origins of March’s full Moon—and when you can see this Moon at its brightest!
When to See the Full Moon in March 2022
The final full moon of the winter season will rise Thursday and Friday night. Specifically, March’s full Worm Moon reaches peak illumination at 3:20 A.M. EDT on Friday, March 18, 2022.
Of course, you don’t have to wait until the middle of the night! Look for the spectacularly bright Moon as it rises above the horizon on Thursday evening. If your weather is poor on Thursday night, try again! The Moon will also appear full Friday night. See when the Moon will be visible in your area.
If you have just a bit of rain on Thursday, March 17, you may even get to spot a rare phenomenon called a moonbow. A moonbow is just like a solar rainbow, but is created by moonlight (rather than sunlight) when it is refracted through water droplets in the air. Moonbows only happen when the full Moon is fairly low in the sky, so look for one in the hours after sunset when the sky is dark. Learn more about moonbows here!
This March Moon will look especially large to us when it’s near the horizon because of the “Moon illusion,” when it looks bigger when near comparative objects than it does when it’s high in the sky without any references.
Why Is It Called the Worm Moon?
The full Moon names used by The Old Farmer’s Almanac come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American, and European sources. Traditionally, each full Moon name was applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred, not only to the full Moon.
Surprising Truth Behind the Worm Moon Name
March’s full Moon goes by the name Worm Moon. For many years, we thought this name referred to the earthworms that appear as the soil warms in spring. This invites robins and other birds to feed—a true sign of spring!
However, more research revealed another explanation. 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.
Alternative March Moon Names
There are quite a few names for the March Moon that speak to the transition from winter to spring. Some refer to the appearance (or reappearance) of certain animals, such as the Eagle Moon, Goose Moon (Algonquin, Cree), or Crow Comes Back Moon (Northern Ojibwe), while others refer to signs of the season:
The Sugar Moon (Ojibwe) marks the time of year when the sap of sugar maples starts to flow.
The Wind Strong Moon (Pueblo) refers to the strong windy days that come at this time of year.
The Sore Eyes Moon (Dakota, Lakota, Assiniboine) highlights the blinding rays of sunlight that reflect off the melting snow of late winter.
The Lenten Moon
March’s full Moon often plays a role in religion, too. Specifically, in Christianity, this Moon is known as the Lenten Moon if it is the last full Moon of the winter season (i.e., if it occurs before the spring equinox) or as the Paschal Full Moon if it is the first full Moon of spring (i.e., if it occurs after the spring equinox).
This year, March’s full Moon (March 18, 2022) occurs before the spring equinox (March 20, 2022), making it the Lenten Moon. April’s full Moon (April 16, 2022) will be the first full Moon to occur after the spring equinox and will therefore determine the date of Easter this year. Read more about how Easter’s date is determined.
Each month, we explain the traditional names of the full Moon along with some fascinating Moon facts. In this video, learn about the full Worm Moon, Moon illusions, and when and why the Moon rides high or low in the sky. Click below to watch the video.
Best Days in March 2022
Below are the best days for activities based on the Moon’s sign and phase in March.