Thursday, March 17, 2011
A little moonshine is headed our way this week. The brightest full moon in 19 years will make an appearance Saturday. But contrary to Internet buzz, scientists say there’s no need to fret -- so-called “supermoons” don’t induce natural disasters. (Story continues below)
Some astrologers believe full moons are linked to natural catastrophes ranging from earthquakes to tidal waves. But scientists like say … well, that’s loony. Scripps Institution of Oceanography Professor Duncan Agnew calls such talk drivel.
“We’ve been looking for correlations between earthquakes and the tides, which is the pull of the moon, for a century now and it’s never been detected,” Agnew said. “People spot coincidences in things all the time. It’s rather like seeing faces in clouds.”
San Diego State University astronomer Allen Shafter said Saturday’s sky show is nothing more than a full moon coinciding with the annual lunar perigee which is the point in the moon’s orbit when it is closest to earth. Shafter says people won’t get the full effect of Saturday’s moon in the city.
“If you go out to the desert where the night sky is very dark normally during a full moon, it will cast a shadow -- you will be able to see your shadow from the full moon,” Shafter said. “You can read a newspaper.”
Shafter says there may be a slight increase in the height of tides at local beaches during Saturday’s large full moon.