Sun rises at 6:23am
Sun sets at 6:21pm
Moon phase: Full Moon
Moon rises at sunset
Moon sets at sunrise
This weekend we enjoy the third full moon of 2017, known in folklore as the Worm Moon or the Crow Moon or Sap Moon. It’s also the full moon closest to the spring equinox, making it the Sap Moon (in the Southern Hemisphere it’s the Harvest Moon, as they are near their autumnal equinox). And because it’s the last full moon of the winter season, it’s also the Lenten Moon in the Christian liturgical calendar. That’s a lot of responsibility for one small natural satellite!
This full moon, like all full moons, is in the opposition position from the sun in our sky, which is why it’s full! It will rise in the east around sunset, climbing to its highest point of the night around midnight and setting in the west around sunrise. The moon will shine all night long, lighting up the night sky from dusk ’til dawn.
Keep in mind that many places in North America are returning to daylight saving time this weekend. If that applies to you, remember to “spring ahead” one hour. Although we here in the eastern Caribbean don’t change our clocks, the result is that the eastern portions of the US “catch up” with us, giving us expo facto the same time zone as the eastern swath of North America.
Meanwhile, Venus is losing her status as the Evening Star, so say sayonara to our lovely star gracing the western sky after sunset. As she begins to edge closer to the Sun, she will soon be lost in the glare of the sun. Venus will emerge on the other side of the sun as the Morning Star by the end of March. If your eyes are keen, look to the eastern sky just before sunrise around the March 29 to see Venus in her new gig as the herald of the new day.
Interestingly, these next several weeks are a great time to observe the now crescent-shaped Venus through a telescope. Venus actually has phases, or regular changes in shape, just like the moon, and these changes can be observed with a scope. And believe it or not, twilight sky is much better time than a dark sky for getting a crisp, sharp view of Venus’ changing phases. Aim your telescope at Venus as soon as you see it after sunset. You might even be able to tell with binoculars that Venus is something other than completely round.
The red planet Mars and even the tiny bright point of Mercury will remain in the western sky after sunset, but these are pale reminders of Venus’ evening brilliance.
Thank you for keeping up with the Night Sky articles. If you are out later on in the week, each star rises about four minutes earlier each day than written here, and the moon rises 50 minutes later. Night Sky is researched and compiled by Lisa Davis-Burnett. Earthsky.org is a key resource for information and images. Questions or comments? Email [email protected]