Blue Moon To Light Up The Sky For Easter
Stargazers, get your binoculars ready: a blue moon will grace the sky this weekend, marking the end of what has been a breathtaking month.
A "worm moon" rose on March 1, and a rare parade of planets, including Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Mercury and Venus along with the bright star Antares, lit the sky from March 7 through March 11.
Now, it's time for the blue moon to shine.
Here's what you need to know about March's full moons – the "worm moon" and the "blue moon" – and the parade of planets that put on a show during the first week of March.
What is a blue moon?
The term "blue moon" has been around since the 1940s. The name is simply used to distinct the full moon as the second to appear within a calendar month.
Full moons aren't exactly rare. They occur, on average, every 29.53 days (12.37 times per year), Space.com reported. But to catch a glimpse of one twice in one month is a special treat. It only happens every three years or so.
It's even more special to spot two blue moons in one year.
There's almost always a full moon in February. In fact, the month is only without a full moon every 19 years.
"The last time February didn't have a full moon was in 1999, and the time before that was 1980," Space.com reported. "The next time there will be no full moon in February will be 2037."
Because February only had 28 days, this year's full moon carried over to March, confirming the March 31 full moon would be a "blue" one.
It is possible for the full moon to have a blue hue, but it's not likely.
"Most blue moons look pale gray and white, indistinguishable from any other moon you've ever seen," NASA says. "Squeezing a second full moon into a calendar month doesn't change the physical properties of the moon itself, so the color remains the same."
When can I see the blue moon?
Unlike the "worm moon," the"blue moon" will reach peak fullness early in the morning at approximately 8:37 a.m. ET on March 31.
Don't miss it! The next blue moon won't come around again until spring 2019.
What's a "Planet Parade"?
A "Planet Parade" is a celestial event that occurs when a group of planets are visible to the naked eye.
The moon shifts a few degrees each night, giving skywatchers a clear view of a string of planets.
"The Moon will shift along this line of stars and planets, appearing ... near Jupiter on March 7, between Mars and Jupiter, and above the bright star Antares on March 8, near Mars on March 9, between Mars and Saturn on March 10, and near Saturn on March 11," NASA explained earlier this month.
Stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere caught the five planets either during "post-sunset or predawn hours," according to The Weather Channel.
See all 5 bright planets in March https://t.co/Tol9xs2C3L— EarthSky (@earthskyscience) March 2, 2018
You can't see them simultaneously. But, especially from the Northern Hemisphere, March 2018 is a great month for catching all 5 bright planets either after sunset, or before dawn. pic.twitter.com/tE7rkvHOYs