The Two-Way
2:21 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Earthquakes! High Tides! No, Just Super Moon

Originally published on Fri May 4, 2012 6:52 pm

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.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.