Moon has Saturn for company tonight

Please answer this multiple choice question. What is the name of the March full moon? Full Crust MoonFull Crow MoonFull Sap MoonFull Worm MoonFull Lenten MoonThe answer? All of the...

Please answer this multiple choice question. What is the name of the March full moon?

  1. Full Crust Moon
  2. Full Crow Moon
  3. Full Sap Moon
  4. Full Worm Moon
  5. Full Lenten Moon

The answer? All of the above. Crust refers to the crusty, icy top that forms on top of the snow has this time of year, 'Crow' to the return of the familiar caws of this common bird, 'Sap' to the tapping of trees to make maple sugar, 'Worm' for the robins' favorite food and Lenten for the Christian season of Lent. Except for Lent, the many names for March's full moon hark back to Native American traditions.
Yesterday we learned that tonight's full moon will be bigger and brighter than most, but didn't talk about the company it will be keeping.

The moon saunters through Virgo over the next few nights, passing near Saturn and Virgo's brightest star Spica. If you haven't had a chance to see Saturn yet, it will lie conveniently to the left of the moon tonight and directly above it tomorrow night. Full moonlight lights up a large region of the sky. Should you have trouble spotting Saturn at first, block the moon with your hand and look again.

While you're doing all this moongazing, I thought you'd enjoy seeing the opposite perspective. The Japanese Kaguya mission , which studied the moon from lunar orbit between 2007 and 2009, sent back a treasure trove of wonderful photos and movies of lunar landscapes. Among them was this photo of Earth rising over the moon's limb. What a colorful world we make! Check out the many Youtube videos available, including this amazing Earth-rise movie .

Last night while driving between photo assignments on my job, I caught sight of Jupiter and Mercury in the western sky around 8 o'clock. Jupiter was fairly low, but Mercury was surprisingly high up in the twilight glow. Both were easy to see. I hope you'll have the chance to see them in the coming evenings.


What's interesting is how quickly they're changing positions relative to each other. Jupiter is moving westward toward the sun, while Mercury is headed up and away. It reminds me of a game of checkers, where each player works his or her way square-by-square to opposite sides of the board. The nightly changes are easy to see with the naked eye.

What To Read Next