7 May 2012

Supermoon May 2012

Yesterday (6 May) was one of those evenings that sky gazers have been anticipating for a long time.  A rare lunar phenomenon happened.  You may not even notice it yourself if you are simply a casual observer but last night the moon will appeared larger and brighter than normal. Take a look at these amazing pictures to get an idea what all the fuss was about.

Some astrologists refer to this as a supermoon but there are even those who are calling last nights moon an extreme supermoon because the moon was also at the fullest part of its sequence.  The real name for the term is rather different – astrological purists refer to it as a lunar perigree.

As the moon’s orbit around the earth is elliptical the difference between its furthest and nearest points would, at first glance, be cause for concern (and if the distance between the two happened overnight it would most certainly be a time to, well, panic).  254,000 miles is the furthest the moon is ever away from the earth.  At is closest it is still 220,000 miles away but that means that it is closer to us by 34,000 miles.

While it is true that tidal forces increase by about fifteen percent during a lunar perigree that does not mean that tides will be higher by the same percentage.  The average perigree tidal rise is around an inch – nothing much to throw your arms up in horror there, then!  In fact the dire effects that the moon is said to have on the weather during its perigree are largely a creation of the blogosphere.  Here at Kuriositas we are happy to stand up and be counted when it comes to debunking what amounts to lunatic lunar conspiracy theory!

First Image Credit Bill Collinson