Mar 18, 2011

Super Moon

Early this month, a well known astrologer predicted that the super moon's gravitational pull would wreck havoc on the planet Earth. He predicted storms, earthquakes, and volcanoes. Commenters lined up to rudely mock him.

But tonight, as we enter into the wee hours of the morning of March 19th, that super sized full moon will show up on our horizons. This super moon will be the very closest it has been to our planet earth in 18 years (and this point will be at 3:00 pm, Saturday) a distance of 221,565 miles (356,575 kilometers) away. And only 50 minutes earlier, the moon will officially be completely full.

And as we all know, that astrologically suggested havoc has already begun when a multitude of earthquakes rocked Japan resulting in a massive tsunami and now the devastating fears of a melt down of the nuclear reactors.

When scientists readily accept the strange pull that the phases of the moon have on so many other naturally occurring cycles...even those of women...why should any of us not leave some plausible room for a further connection between one astronomical orb and another?

But do we really need to start stocking survival shelters in preparation for the super moon or the situation with the nuclear reactors?

In fact scientists have studied related scenarios for decades. Even under normal conditions, the moon is close enough to Earth to make its weighty presence felt.

The moon's gravity can even cause small but measurable ebbs and flows in the continents, called "land tides" or "solid Earth tides," too. The tides are greatest during full and new moons, when the sun and moon are aligned either on the same or opposite sides of the Earth.

According to John Vidale, a seismologist at the University of Washington in Seattle and director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, particularly dramatic land and ocean tides do trigger earthquakes. "Both the moon and sun do stress the Earth a tiny bit, and when we look hard we can see a very small increase in tectonic activity when they're aligned," Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site to

The effect of tides on seismic activity is greatest in subduction zones such as the Pacific Northwest, where one tectonic plate is sliding under another.

William Wilcock, another seismologist at the University of Washington, explained: "When you have a low tide, there's less water, so the pressure on the seafloor is smaller. That pressure is clamping the fault together, so when it's not there, it makes it easier for the fault to slip."

According to Wilcock, earthquake activity in subduction zones at low tides is 10 percent higher than at other times of the day, but he hasn't observed any correlations between earthquake activity and especially low tides at new and full moons. Vidale has observed only a very small correlation.

What about during a lunar perigee, when the super sized moons are actually so much closer to our Earth? Can we expect more earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on March 19, when the full moon will be this close?

The moon's gravitational pull at lunar perigee, the scientists say, is not different enough from its pull at other times to significantly change the height of the tides and thus the likelihood of natural disasters.

Let's all hope that's the least for more earthquakes. I haven't had time to build a bomb shelter. But the nuclear reactors? Hmm. I'm not taking the iodine supplement and shutting down my thyroid unnecessarily.

But as I say my prayers for the people of Japan, I'll add extra ones for everybody else as well.There are so many super and unusual events going on right now...a super prayer just might be in order!

As we enter the new day, with this super close new moon, focus your eyes on the horizon and think thoughts of prayer and blessing for all of the people of this world, but now..more than ever....our sisters and brothers in Japan.

'Supermoon' Arrives Saturday Night | Biggest Full Moon in 18 Years


Anonymous said...

Whenever you post on astronomy I realize how little I know about my own world and what influences us. It's fascinating so thank you so much!

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

It doesn't only affect women, it events every weirdo out there. They come out of the woodwork. Anyone that works customer service can tell you when there is a full moon, or a new moon coming within 3 days, because that is when I notice the attitude changes in people in general. Wish I had more vacation time to stay at home during those times.

SewCalGal said...

Oh my. I think I need to start studying astronomy. Very interesting.

Great post. Thanks for sharing. Definitely good food for thought & conversation.


Karen said...

Very interesting information, Elaine! Makes me wonder where I have been?

Hugs, Karen

Angie said...

One of the beauties of aging for me is being able to focus more fully on the mysteries and minute details of the world around me at any given time.

You are a most excellent educator, Michele. :D

Lighting candles and sending prayers ~~ for all of us ~~ but most especially our Japanese family.

Anonymous said...

The things I learn here are amazing!

Clare said...

I thought the moon was looking a bit odd last night. I'll look again tonight and have the camera and tripod to hand.

The French do everything by the moon's cycle. They even publish books on gardening by the lunar cycle.

Joanne Lendaro said...

The moon here in New Hampshire was so bright last night, it was eerie, but really, really cool! Hope it's a clear night tonight....