Mar 18, 2011

Beware the Ides of Supermoon

Apogee and perigee moon photographed by amateur astronomer
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Maybe if folks would actually look into science a bit instead of believing every hoaxy, 'the world is ending' bit of crap out there, there'd be less ... I'll leave that part up to you.

First of all, what phase the Moon is in makes no difference -- whether full or new. Because the Moon is full, does not mean there is more moon up there. Only that in its position in its orbit around the Earth, it is reflecting more sunlight at us. Just because there is little moonlight at new moon, does not mean there is less moon in the sky, only that the reflective part is not pointed at us. In other words, the Moon does not phase in and out as it phases. Parts of it do not disappear and reappear. Its mass stays the same. Its effect on tides, etc ... therefore is no different no matter the phase it is in. The pull on the Earth is the same whether a new moon, a partial moon or a full moon.

And it is the Moon's position in its orbit that gives it phases. Only planets and moons between us and the Sun have phases. Phases are due to the amount of light being reflected toward us. It is not the Earth's shadow on the Moon. That's a lunar eclipse.

The Moon's orbit around the Earth is not a perfect circle. It is an elipse. Therefore, it does appear to be closer than usual at times because it is. This happens every twenty-eight days, the length of time it takes the Moon to orbit the Earth.

Aaaaa! The world already ended and we didn't notice. :-O

It is slightly closer than usual this March 19th, because of the imperfect orbit. According to NASA it will only result in higher tides of a few centimeters, an inch or so. Local geography can increase the effect. But it's nothing to worry about.

If some world disaster happens this March 19th, it won't be the Moon's fault ... unless that man up there starts shooting spitballs at us or something.

No, the only thing you have to worry about is whether the sky will be clear enough to get some nice photos of a closer than usual full moon.

So yeah, no hocus pocus superstitious crap. It's science. Logical, hysteria-free science. Exciting. Interesting. An opportunity for some nice photography.

I know, these facts are not near as fun for fiction as the hocus pocus crap. But fiction should be restricted to stories. It has no place impacting reality, everyday living.