America

Earthquakes! High Tides! No, Just Super Moon

A super moon rises above a shopping center in Manchester, Britain, on March 19, 2011. i i

hide captionA super moon rises above a shopping center in Manchester, Britain, on March 19, 2011.

Jon Super/AP
A super moon rises above a shopping center in Manchester, Britain, on March 19, 2011.

A super moon rises above a shopping center in Manchester, Britain, on March 19, 2011.

Jon Super/AP

It won't trigger any catastrophes, according to scientists, but the Moon will orbit to its closest proximity to the Earth on Saturday night. It's called a "super moon": when a full moon reaches perigee near our planet.

It's "Not A Threat To Earth" reports National Geographic, while Discovery News reassures us "Saturday's Supermoon Won't Destroy Earth".

Tectonic plates won't shift, but there may be small "perigean tides", according to NOAA, which says tide waters may rise up to an inch higher than usual. Some geographical areas can "amplify the effect" of the water, raising tides about six inches.

The federal agency notes super moons in 1983 and 2008 "proved harmless". Still, as NASA Science News reports, people believe strange things occur in conjunction with a full moon: "The idea that the full Moon causes mental disorders was widespread in the Middle Ages. Even the word 'lunacy,' meaning 'insanity,' comes from the Latin word for 'Moon.'"

If you'd like the best view, NASA advises looking for the full moon on the horizon right after sunset, because it may appear up to 14% larger and should be nearly a third brighter than any other full moon this year. Even better, the agency adds that full moons low to the horizon look gigantic when they're seen through "trees, buildings and other foreground objects."

What if you get rained out and lose your viewing chance? No worries, another super moon will occur next month, says National Geographic, although it won't be quite as large. These are still infrequent: as Mark wrote, the last super moon occurred in March, 2011.

Show us your photos of the Super Moon! Upload them to your favorite website (i.e. Flickr) and share the URL with us in the comments section.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: