Coming up this weekend the moon will be full. To be precise, it will be full at Sunday morning at 7:32 EDT. Because of the time that the moon is full, it will basically appear to be just as full Saturday night as Sunday night. At the same time, the moon will make its closest approach to Earth (called lunar perigee) of 2013.
A new or full moon at 90% or greater of its closest perigee to Earth has been named a "SuperMoon" by astrologer Richard Nolle. This term has made it to the field of astronomy as well as the mainstream media and Richard readily gives credit to us here at AccuWeather Astronomy on Facebook for helping this occur.
Please visit Richard Nolle's fascinating page by clicking here. His page is full of interesting information and I highly recommend it.
An extreme "Supermoon" is when the moon is full or new as well as at its 100% greater mean perigee (closest) distance to earth. By this definition, the Supermoon this weekend will be an extreme "Supermoon". This Supermoon will pass 356,991 km away from the Earth. In comparison, the March 2011 Supermoon passed 356,575 km away and the average distance between the Earth and the Moon at any particular time is 384,400 kilometers.
A Supermoon is not a rare event. In fact, there are several Supermoons by definition each year. An extreme Supermoon is a rarer event, occurring about every 13 or 14 months. The next extreme Supermoon will be in August of 2014.
Around the Supermoon of March of 2011, I was just beginning the astronomy blog and AccuWeather Astronomy on facebook (otherwise abbreviated AWA) page. With the help of AWA expert Daniel Vogler, we wrote an article about that Supermoon which really introduced our facebook page and blog to the world. I will repost it here:
"I have read several "new age" forecasts that go something like this: "Extreme SuperMoon this month (March 2011) will bring strong earthquakes and storms and/or unusual climate patterns." Google the term 'extreme SuperMoon March 2011' and see for yourself what comes up. The validity of these types of forecasts can be debated ad nauseum.
There were SuperMoons in 1955, 1974, 1992 and 2005. These years had their share of extreme weather and other natural events. Is the Super Moon and these natural occurences a coincidence? Some would say yes; some would say no. I'm not here to pick sides and say I'm a believer or non-believer in subjects like this, but as a scientist I know enough to ask questions and try to find answers.
We obviously know that there are scientific laws that say the moon affects the Earth (i.e. tides). There are also less proven theories that propose that the moon affects the Earth in other ways (i.e. abnormal behavior during a full moon). Can the Super (full) Moon contribute to extreme weather and other natural phenomenon?
AccuWeather Facebook fanpage member Daniel Vogler adds, "The last extreme super moon occurred was on January 10th, 2005, right around the time of the 9.0 Indonesia earthquake. That extreme super moon was a new moon. So be forewarned. Something BIG could happen on or around this date. (+/- 3 Days is my guess)"
So what can we expect this time? Earthquakes? Volcanic eruptions? I guess we can only wait and see."
About the same time, March 11 to be exact, a devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake and associated tsunami struck Japan. A lot of speculation and questions abound about whether this tragedy and the extreme Supermoon were related. There are still no definitive answers about this.
One thing we can be sure of is that if you live along a coastline, watch for unusually high tides a few days either side of the Supermoon, especially if a strong weather system affects your area.
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