Brace yourselves: it’s supermoon day
Bemused scientists refute predictions that bigger moon will cause chaos
Saturday is supermoon day – when the moon will be closer to the Earth than at any time in 18 years – and scientists have been rushing to reject claims that the phenomenon can cause natural disasters and social unrest.
Astrologers, meanwhile, have been warning of the danger that may accompany a supermoon – which will appear just 14 per cent bigger to the naked eye and is just one 4,000th of a percent nearer than it was at the same point in its orbit last year.
But the replies of experts quoted in news outlets worldwide betray a level of exasperation at having even been asked. Sathon Vijarnwannaluck, a physics lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, told the Bangkok Post: "People should not panic about something that is not supported by scientific studies. How many times have we had earthquakes? I believe that earthquakes happen more frequently than supermoons."
Vijarnwannaluck was responding to predictions from Pinyo Pongcharoen, president of the International Astrology Association, that the supermoon would cause more social conflict as lunar power tended to make people more unstable. He also warned people to prepare for natural disasters, especially those involving water.
And in the Times of India, Anil Yadav, of the Indira Gandhi Planetarium, contributed his debunking of the supermoon myth, saying: "Lunar effects are just a tiny force when compared to the energy needed to spin the earth. The moon can have no impact at all.
"The disasters of tsunami and earthquake are caused by earth's internal movement. While earthquakes result from intrusion of layers, tsunamis occur when the sea floor moves."
Meanwhile some media organisations have, perhaps in dubious taste, linked the moon's proximity to the recent earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand.
The Daily Mail asked: "Is the Japanese earthquake the latest natural disaster to have been caused by a 'supermoon'?" (It is tempting to point out that the answer to this question, in common with many others posed by the Mail down the ages is almost certainly "no").
A supermoon, or lunar perigee, is caused by the moon's oval-shaped orbit, which means the satellite's distance from Earth is constantly changing. ·
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