On March 19th, the moon will be closer to Earth than it's been since 1992. The full moon that night will appear about 14 percent larger and significantly brighter than usual, but despite the brightness, the supermoon has a dark side. Supermoons have been linked to massive natural disasters in the past, from earthquakes to floods--but that connection is typically touted by astrologists. Astronomers and scientists, with typical drollness, say a catastrophe is unlikely.
March 19th marks this year's lunar perigee, the point in the moon's orbit at which it is closest to Earth. It's the moon's elliptical orbit that's responsible for the differences in distance between the moon and Earth (the opposite, the point at which the moon is farthest from the Earth, is called the lunar apogee). This month's perigee will leave the moon, says Steve Owens at Dark Sky Diary, about 8 percent closer to Earth than usual, and about 2 percent closer to Earth than the average lunar perigee. In fact, it'll be the closest positioning since 1992.
Past supermoons have coincided with natural disasters--the Indonesian earthquake in 2005, Australian flooding in 1954--but scientists note that those are unrelated, more likely than not. Says John Bellini, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey: "A lot of studies have been done on this kind of thing by USGS scientists and others. They haven't found anything significant at all." The tides will pull a bit higher, but earthquakes are almost completely unaffected and volcanoes are not likely to show unusual behavior. John Vidale, a seismologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, said "Practically speaking, you'll never see any effect of lunar perigee. It's somewhere between 'It has no effect' and 'It's so small you don't see any effect.'"
Besides, it's still 2011. Everyone knows there won't be any world-ending catastrophes until next year, right?
Gasoline is too expensive to just pour on the fire, Dan.
We're doomed, I tell ya! Oh, I meant "mooned".
Thanks for posting this! That will be a nice night, I hope the sky is clear.
This is sensationalism pretending to be responsible writing. You say that "supermoons have a dark side" and that "supermoons have been linked to massive natural disasters" but then write that there is no evidence that this is true. Sloppy? Confused? Intentionally misleading?
The BIG ONE will hit Los Angeles at Perigree on or near March 19th! Take my word for it!
" Astronomers and scientists, with typical drollness, say a catastrophe is unlikely."
8.9 Earth quake just hit the coast of Japan with the largest Tsunami warning.
My Prayers to the Japanese people.
What a shame that "Popular Science" hasn't bothered to check out the facts. Science - even in its popular form - should still be factual rather than merely sensational.
Astrologers (not astrologists) have very little to say about the Moon at perigee. Astrologically, it's simply Moon opposite Sun, just like any Full Moon. I suppose some astrologers may incorporate "Black Moon Lilith", which is just a fancy name for one of the focal points of the Earth/Moon elliptical orbit, from which apogee or perigee could be calculated, but it's hardly a mainstay of astrology.
And yet here we are, yet again. 2005 last supermoon: Indonesia. 2011: we're looking at Japan. Perhaps scientists haven't exhausted all connections with these kind of moon phases and the earth. Maybe some sort of tidal displacement or the other. I don't know and I don't think the scientists should say they do
oh i get it now... the aztecs knew the moon would crash into the earth. the moon slowly progressing its way to earth has been causing the natural disasters...lol
just jokeing... people just deny that the calander would just reset or if the aztecs were still around would build onto it.
If the world was going to end on 2012 i would kick a grizzly bear in the face, just for the hell of it.
Natural disaster struck Japan!
Did the moon cause it or was it H.A.A.R.P.?
Sorry, but one natural distaster does not auto-magically make it 100% positive proof that the moon is the cause.
Maybe if more and more natural distasters happen up to Mar 19th (and a little afterwards)...then perhaps a correlation could be made.
Today is March 11. the Perigree is on the 19th.
Shut your stupid mouths.
Keep your eyes peeled to the news.
at thor - the exact date doesnt matter as the tidal forces are still present and stronger than usual
tectonic as well as tidal
Well, it seems the full moon hasn't even come and it's already caused a 8.9 earthquake in Japan! No proof whatsoever that the two are linked of course, but it is a little unsettling.
Hey Moquah-Hunter, just FYI... the hole "end of the world in 2012" theory is based on the Mayan calendar... not Aztecs... =)
Everyone knows the moon has nothing to do with conditions on earth! The tides come in, the tides go out, NEVER A MISCOMMUNICATION - YOU CAN'T EXPLAIN THAT!
The largest quakes do occur near the full moon (or to a lesser degree the new moon)
The source data:
My results show of the largest 24 quakes, all but 6 occurred near a full or new moon:
Oddly, this current Japanese quake is an outlier!
Do any of these 'scientists' use data?
I don't think the people in Japan will believe the author of this article!
Moon AND solar flares have cause the quake
It is disgusting and shameful for Popular Science to exhibit such disregard for COPYRIGHT on intellectual property.
I am the copyright owner of the above photo depicting apogee and perigee and which PopSci lifted from NASA APOD and, more specifically, from http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap071025.html where the photo is accompanied "Credit & Copyright: Anthony Ayiomamitis".
Not only was I not approached for permission of this photo BUT PopSci lifted the photo from the NASA APOD website, did not have the courtesy to credit my work properly and just tagged as a "NASA".
If the editors fail to contact me in relation to licensing this work, there will be follow-up action on my part. E-mails have already been sent to PopSci!
the moon only controls the tides on earth because of the gravity pull. it doesn't control earthquakes or volcanoes. that is plate tectonics.
the moon is in fact, moving AWAY from us about 4 cm every year. even with the eliptical orbit, it does not just get closer out of character, it will be on the same orbit but getting farther.
when the moon looks bigger in the sky, it's just how the atmosphere & what's in the air is magnifying it (in a way). it's an optical illusion. it's not actually closer.
one last point to make, 2012 has already happened. the mayan's didn't have leap year. so...considering it started about 3000bc, it has been skipping 1 day every 4 years for about 5000 years. causing that Dec. 21st to actually come early on our calendar, by 3.5 years. it really 'happened' in the summer of 2009.
First off, the earthquake in japan has absolutely NOTHING to do with the moon being closer in the upcoming full moon. The moon is currently further away from earth than it is during any normal perigee.
Perigee and Apogee also have NOTHING to do with full or new moons and can occur at any point in the lunar cycle.
As for you fiendofdemise, they are not talking apparent size, they are talking in terms of absolute distance. The moon is going to be closer to earth on the upcoming full moon than it has been at any point since 1992. The moon has an elliptical orbit, which does not mean rock solid stable. It does indeed move 4 cm further away from earth every year, but that is in average distance. Apogee and Perigee can change.
Well if its going to be its closest on the 19th then doesnt it have to descend this direcion in the meantime?
The Moon (with a contribution from the Sun) causes tides on Earth. The Earth's crust is floating on liquid magma. Liquid magma is affected by the same gravitational forces that cause tides in the ocean. The article mentions that the Moon will be 8% closer to the Earth than "usual". What it doesn't mention, is that the gravitational tug of the Moon on the Earth (and vice versa) will be 25% greater, than when the Moon is at apogee.
While we haven't "proved" that the Moon caused the recent earthquake in Japan; it is at least a reasonable hypothesis, until disproven.
OTOH, the article itself is nonsense -- there is no evidence presented in the article to back up the headline.
hey fiendofdemise, pretty sure that the Mayans and their calendar conclusion is suppose to correlate with the aligning of the celestial bodies in our solar system, not a specific date thousands of years in their future. We calculated this alignment to fall on this date in 2012, not the Mayans.
We may as well blame the Large Hadron Collider just because whenever they turn it on there's a major earthquake.
HAARP. HAARP. HAARP. Thats the answer! Mass media is mass censorship! They are lying to us! The mass extinction is coming sure enough, but it will be man made! Another responder mentioned HAARP but it seems it fell upon deaf ears. Try to keep an open mind...HAARP is a versatile new weapon of the NWO that has a multitude of uses, but is capable of emitting a billion watts of radio waves into the ionisphere, actually expanding it temporarily, and where those waves are amplified exponentially before rebounding back to earth where they wreak havoc on earth's fault lines. Its true purpose is just being realized....aggressive foreign policy and population control. Yes its true folks, our planet is morbidly overpopulated! Check out HAARP on youtube...what about all the recent reports of dead fish and birds...in 17 different countries?....check out the recent STATS on big quakes...and the aurora lights that are usually reported just prior to quake time! Check out "HAARP persian gulf". There are hundreds of clues if one is so inclined to start connection the dots. I assure you, mass media won't connect them for you! In fact, media already priming us for the next one! They will blame natural and astrological phenomenon every time, and since the stage is already set for Dec 21st 2012, they will probably use this date to create a larger scale extinction event! Meanwhile the chosen ones will be safely bunkered up underground or in space. FEMA CAMPS? Its also possible I'm a fruitcake but you'd better check it out anyway....
Beware the ides of March!
Japan was not caused by the moon. There is little evidence to support lunar caused earthquakes. If there was to be an earthquake from the moon it would be closer to the 17th when the moon is actually closer.
Speculation is always fun until some ends up paying $5 a gallon for gas. ...ignorance, it's contagious.