March’s Full Eclipsing Worm | Sap Moon

Happy March Full Moon!

Welcome to Issue 2 of Volume VII of Earth, Moon and Stars!


  An ghealach (“the moon” in Irish) will become exact full March 5 (Thursday) at 18:06 Universal Time; correspondingly earlier in time zones west of Greenwich, later in time zones to the east. (See this past December’s Seasonal Calendar for clarification about Universal Time.)

   Because fullness this time will occur just six hours before midnight on Thursday in Greenwich, most everyone will see most fullness on Thursday night. Hawaiians are split down the middle; she will appear equally full to you both Wednesday and Thursday nights. Folks just west of the International Date Line (Auckland, for example) can choose between Thursday and Friday nights. As we have pointed out, she will also appear full to most eyes on the nights before and after fullness. Check Seasonal Calendar below for times in some representative time zones.

   A “Supermoon” will pass in front of and thus eclipse the sun on the day of the New Moon (March 20).  See the section below: Super Eclipse of the Sun.


      • Moon Art ~ Larry Herscovitch
      • Moon Names ~ Worm Moon | Sap Moon
      • Seasonal Calendar ~ Moon and dates and times
      • Celestial Mechanics ~ Equinox | “Supermoon” Solar Eclipse
      • Astrology ~ Full Moon in Virgo: Inspiration | Clarity


   I found the painting below in a search for “spring full moon”. Beautiful, huh! It’s by Larry Herscovitch, who is both an accomplished painter and photographer. You can see more of his paintings here, and some of his photos here.


Full Moon Spring Bluffs (Larry Herscovitch)


March’s Worm | Sap Moon

   As you know (especially if you’ve been following this blog), many cultures in both hemispheres kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon, appropriate for the month in which it occurred, and keyed – naturally enough – to the goings-on in their natural environment . . . the weather, the plants, the animals.

   Here is what The Old Farmer’s Almanac has to say this month about two of the many names given to this month’s full moon:

   The Full Worm Moon was given its name by the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior.

   At the time of this spring Moon, the ground begins to soften and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of robins. In some regions, this is also known as the Sap Moon, as it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins.

Worm Moon w/Robin


March’s full moon:           Thursday March 5 18:06 UT; 1:06 pm ET; 10:06 am PT
.                                             Thursday March 5 8:06 am HAST; 8:06 pm IST
.                                             Friday March 6 2:06 am PHT
March’s new moon:          Friday March 20 09:36 UT; 5:36 am ET; 2:36 am PT
.                                             11:36 am IST; 5:36 pm PHT
.                                             Thursday March 19 11:36 pm HAST
April’s full moon:              Saturday April 4 12:06 UT; 8:06 am ET; 5:06 am PT
. [and total eclipse!]     2:06 am HAST; 3:06 pm IST; 8:06 pm PHT
Daylight Saving Time       Begins Sunday March 8 (in most USA and Canada locales)
March Equinox                  Friday March 20 22:45 UT, Saturday March 21 11:45 am NZDT
Full Solar Eclipse              Friday March 20 (see article, below, for details)
Passover (begins)              Friday April 3 (at sunset)
Full Lunar Eclipse            Saturday April 4 (covered in next month’s posting)
Easter                                  Sunday April 5
.                                                           [Refs: Moon Phases, SeasonsSolar and Lunar Eclipses]

[Note: In case you were wondering, it’s purely coincidental that this solar eclipse will happen around the same time as the equinox. Eclipses are a function of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth; equinoxes are determined by the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Will something extraordinary happen on March 20? I imagine a lot of things will, but I doubt any will be because of this coincidence.]

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.                                                                  EQUINOX  (and where is due east?)

   The March equinox signals the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. It marks the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator going from south to north. On this day the sun rises due east and sets due west wherever you are. (Everything you need to know about the March equinox 2015)

   To be more transparent with you, one of the principal reasons I write this blog is to find answers to “mysteries” that have rattled in the back of my mind – some for most of my life. (I can just hear y’all going “aww” right now.) And I try to boil things down to their simplest, so that I – and more of you – can get a handle on some of the amazing stuff going on all around us.

  So – I have to admit that I had a little bit of trouble with this “the sun rising due east wherever you are” thing. I tried picturing myself standing at the Equator, and then on the Tropic of Cancer, and then on the Arctic Circle. Wouldn’t I have to point a tad south to face the sun rising on the Equinox? How could it be due east if I’m so far north?

  Well, I like diagrams. Even if you’re not fond of them, I encourage you to take a deep breath and stare at these for just a minute or two. First, here’s one you’ve probably seen here before:

Earth-Sun Cycle

Earth-Sun Cycle

   This is one of my favorites, as it’s simple and uncluttered while at the same time showing the essential basics. The tell-tale keys are those little lines representing the Earth’s axis, along with the light/shadows on the globe. With a little staring and vizualization, you can see that at the solstices (for example), the terminator (no, not Arnold Schwarzenegger) is not in line with the axis. In point of fact, such alignment occurs only twice a year at (when?) — the equinoxes! Since at these moments we are tilted neither toward nor away from the Sun, we all get (approximately) equal daylight and dark time. (Equinox = “equal night”.)

   Okay. Now what about this “due east” business? Here is another diagram I found:

March equinox diagram

March equinox diagram

   This, too, shows the terminator aligned with the Earth’s axis of rotation. It also shows the Sun’s rays impinging on the Earth. If you think of yourself standing in front of your house at noon on the Equinox, will the sun appear to be directly above your head? Not unless your house happens to be somewhere like Ecuador, sitting on the Equator. If you are north of the Equator, the sun will appear to be in the southern sky.

  But what about at dawn? There you are in front of your house (or somewhere where you can view the eastern horizon unobstructed), and the terminator sweeps over you as the sun peeks up over the horizon. (Have you ever watched the shadow of the terminator moving across the ground at sunrise? Try it sometime — it can move pretty fast.) So at what compass bearing is the sun? Well, all your eyes can see is the rays that are hitting where you are standing. And if you stare at that diagram, you will see that you will be facing neither north of east nor south of east, but due east. (That “neither north nor south” is what cleared it up for me.) Note the sun’s position against a handy horizon landmark. This due east will be a lot more accurate than a magnetic compass. (Useful for feng shui, for example.)

  This may be all well and good, except that I (and and a host of others) have lied to you. Well, maybe fibbed a little. Because those rays that are represented as “parallel” in the diagram are not, in fact, exactly parallel. They can’t be, because they are emanating from a “quasi-point” source; the Sun is far enough away from us to appear smaller than we are, but not far enough away to appear as a point. So here is closer to how it actually is:

Sun-to-Earth Rays

Sun-to-Earth Rays

    With the rays hitting you canted ever so slightly, you will have to turn just a tad south of east (if you are north of the equator) to face the center of the sun.

   But the real truth is that this is splitting hairs, because this diagram is not to scale, and so the angles between those rays are really small — small enough in fact that we can ignore them and say that “for all practical purposes”, those rays are parallel.

   Now you can sleep peacefully tonight, and on the night of the equinox.

                                                 SUPER ECLIPSE OF THE SUN

   A “Super” moon will block out the Sun’s rays on March 20 – the day of the New Moon. (Note that solar eclipses can occur only when the moon is new, as these are the only times the Sun is directly “in back of” the Moon.) As the shadow that the Moon casts on the Earth is small compared to the size of the Earth, and since both the Earth and the Moon are in constant motion, this shadow sweeps a fast and narrow path across the Earth.

   Coincidentally, this new moon will be “super” in that it will occur when the Moon is at its closest approach (perigee) in its monthly orbit around the Earth, thus making its apparent size the largest it gets. Of course, as a new moon we will only know this during the eclipse by the amount of the sun’s image that it blocks. [ref: UK Mirror]

   The good news is that this eclipse will be “total”. The bad news (that is, for those of us here on the North American continent), totality will be enjoyed only by folks in Svalbard (Norway) and the Faroe Islands. A partial eclipse will be visible in Europe, northern and eastern Asia and northern and western Africa. If you happen to be in London at the time, you will see a sight similar to this:

Partial Solar Eclipse

Partial Solar Eclipse

   The eclipse will begin at 07:41 UTC and will end at 11:50 UTC. [ref]

   Leave a comment here if you are lucky enough to witness this event!

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   Unlike the Earth – which takes 365+ days to make a complete circuit through the Zodiac – the Moon takes just a month to make her rounds. This means she spends on average two and a half days in each zodiac sign. This Full Moon will be in Virgo the Maiden on March 4 and 5.

Molly Hall ~ Molly Hall

Full Moon in Virgo – Inspiration Outbreak

    Molly Hall is chief astrologer at This month Molly writes about the Full Moon in Virgo on her astrology site in her article: “Inspiration Outbreak, in which she tells us that Virgo is bringing us“…inspiriting channels, that set the stage to re-ignite the passion for something wholly new.” Here are some tidbits I’ve distilled from her informative and exciting column for this full moon:

   [There is a…] furious urgency and enthusiasm to what’s emerging, enough to break through the inertia many of us deal with in these heavy times.

   And yet, the instinct […] is to direct that surge into plans that make sense, in a practical cause and effect way. [This is a…] super Moon for purification, elimination, laying the groundwork, fortifying your foundation (health, grounding in what’s natural and lasting).

   Watch what you take in, as it’s an intoxicating atmosphere. [You will…] want to fully digest what you’re experiencing, physically and spiritually. That’s the way to stay attuned to the gifts of subtle perception that are close at hand now.

   At the Full Moon, we’re invited to manifest with sure-footedness, from a real grounded awareness. Virgo is a sign of presence, and one that observes the smallest details. A great expansion happens now from being here now — in your body, where you are. A great renewal comes from letting go of what keeps you from settling in, and knowing the power of presence.

Hawaiian Hula Dancer (Alan Houghton)

   Molly has a lot more helpful insight around this full moon. For the complete read, click Inspiration Outbreak.  She also has Virgo Full Moon Forecasts for each of the twelve houses. You can find yours here. Also visit Molly’s front page for lots more interesting astrology.

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Emily Trinkaus ~ Emily Trinkaus

Approaching the Virgo Full Moon

   Head priestess at Virgo Magic, Emily is based in Portland, OR, and works with astrology as a tool for healing, empowerment, personal growth and collective evolution. In addition, she and energy healer Katie Todd run the Full Moon Priestess website where they conduct monthly Full Moon Galactivation teleclasses for women.

Virgo Full Moon Collage by Emily

   The full title of Emily’s column for this full moon is: Clarity, Simplicity and Synthesis; it’s definitely worth a look. In it she asks us: “… are you feeling it? The urge to clear out the clutter, organize your space, simplify your life, purify your body? The need to get to the essence and clear out the excess so you can focus on your priorities?

   Emily goes on to say, “Lots of wild energies swirling about, many potentials and possibilities and known and unknown unknowns. Major endings, major beginnings, and feeling pulled and/or stuck between the old and the new.” Emily also notes that: “The world is burning, the stakes are high. As Mary Oliver asks: What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? (“The Summer Day”)”

   For the full hit from Emily’s offering this month, surf on over to her column Clarity, Simplicity and Synthesis for the rest of the story.

Virgo Full Moon

My Personal Take on Astrology

  Some folks have wondered why I have an astrology section in a blog that purports to be “science” oriented. I suppose I could cite ancient cultures in which astronomy and astrology were the domain of the same person. And that a broader way of understanding the aim of science is to expand knowledge (the word science being derived from the Latin word  scīre “to know”). My own sense is that while we humans live in a material world that runs by certain rules of physics, we each experience our lives in this world subjectively. It’s what makes us similar and at the same time unique.

   How much do celestial bodies influence our lives? Certainly the Sun and the Moon have noticeable gravitational effects on water and even rocks. Electromagnetic and particle radiation from the Sun has both obvious and subtle effects on just about everything on this planet; even moonlight affects plants and animals.  I do not claim to know if or how much other celestial bodies affect us, but I like the wisdom, warmth and humanness that Molly and Emily express in their writing, and believe that including them not only expands my potential audience, but also exposes folks to ways of thinking about their own lives that they might not have otherwise considered. Let me know your take on this. I won’t make your comment public if you ask me not to.

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   If you especially like (or dislike) something you see here, or would like to see something in particular covered in a future issue, or you have something interesting about the Earth, Moon, or Stars you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m always interested in how folks who stop by here are moved/influenced/affected by what they encounter here.

  Until the full moon in April, here’s wishing all of us a month of inspiration and clarity!

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A few detail-oriented folks have inquired about my use (or mis-use) of Initial Caps in words like earth, moon, and sun. In the long run, it doesn’t affect understanding; Whether I write ”the President” or “the president”, you still know who I’m referring to. I write “the Northern Hemisphere”, just as you would (correctly) write “the West Coast”; it’s a proper name, and in English we capitalize proper names.

When it comes to suns and moons it can get confusing. There are billions of suns out there; we have given names to more than 40 million of them, ranging from names given in other languages (e.g., Aldebaran), to less fanciful but more utilitarian names, such as HD 140913. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has decreed that our sun is the only one without such a proper name, although historically and in poesy it’s been called by quite a few.

Similarly for our moon. We’ve christened all of the other 182 moons in our solar system with names – ours is the only one we call the Moon.

Since we capitalize the names of all the other heavenly bodies (even asteroids and comets, for pity’s sake), I feel we ought to show at least as much respect for the ones most important to us. The IAU agrees.

So does Wikipedia. Their Manual of Style says: “The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body (our Sun, Earth, Moon and Solar System): The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; The Moon orbits the Earth. They are not capitalized when used outside an astronomical context (The sky was clear and the sun felt warm), or when used in a general sense (Io is a moon of Jupiter).”

Sometimes it’s a fine line. If I write “by the light of the silvery moon”, I won’t capitalize it, because I’m referring to an image of the celestial body, not the body itself. By contrast, if I write, “the light from the Sun reflects off the surface of the Moon,” I capitalize both, because I’m referring directly to the celestial bodies.

If you inspect the archives of this blog, you will likely see many instances where I departed from this rule. We’ll call these oversights, and eventually I will correct them. Meanwhile, it’s an interesting challenge just to follow it in new writings. Are we having fun, yet?

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The Earth, Moon and Stars blog is published once each Full Moon with (hopefully interesting) facts and lore about our moon and other sky phenomena. My wish is that you will have fun learning a bit more about our one and only natural satellite and how all of us — people, animals, plants, water, even rocks — are affected and connected by her.

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Unless otherwise noted, this blog claims no credit for any images appearing on it. Copyrighted images remain the property of their respective owners; attribution and/or links are provided when known. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear here, please leave a comment with your email address and a link to the image in question and it will be promptly removed. Your comment will not be made public.


About aquarianman

Aquarian interested in anything to do with the Earth, our Moon, and anything flying around out there in space.
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