Vancouver’s sky will be the backdrop to an unusual lunar occurrence Wednesday night: the worm supermoon coinciding with the vernal equinox.
A supermoon occurs when the moon is full at its closest approach to the Earth, making it look larger than normal.
And if you miss it, the next “first-day-of-spring” worm supermoon won’t be for another 19 years.
The phrase, worm supermoon, may sound like fiction but the name is based on science.
“Every full moon in each month has a name,” said astronomer Kat Kelly, with the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.
“The worm is the full moon in March. It comes from a farmer’s reference from when the frost breaks, and the worm starts to come up from out of the ground.”
Similarly, the full moon in January is known as the wolf moon. October’s is the hunter’s moon.
No telescope required
Supermoons in themselves aren’t particularly rare: they usually happen a few times a year.
This one on March 20 is the last of 2019 and it can be decades before they coincide with another event like the equinox.
“This is one of those celestial events where you really just want to get comfortable and look up,” Kelly told CBC’s The Early Edition.
“You don’t need any special equipment.”
The moon is set to rise in Vancouver at 7:10 p.m., which Kelly said is the best time to see it at its largest.
“There is this cool kind of illusion that happens where your brain thinks the moon looks bigger if you can see it near the horizon, because our brains compare it to trees and close objects,” she said.