Friday, March 18, 2011

coming in the air tonight?

The Independent | Even before Japan's devastating earthquake struck Honshu, certain sections of the global blogosphere were already warning in breathless tones about an upcoming Moon armageddon caused by the extra gravitational pull of the moon's proximity. Richard Nolle, an American astrologer who claims to have coined the phrase "super moon" and – according to his own website – foresaw the 1993 World Trade Centre bombings, has predicted a whole host of global meteorological nightmares this weekend, including a surge in extreme tides, magnitude 5+ earthquakes and a slew of powerful storms.

"Being planetary in scale," he added ominously, "there's no place on our home planet that's beyond the range of a super moon, so it wouldn't hurt to make ready wherever you are or plan to be during the March 16-22 super moon risk window."

After the Japanese earthquake struck, what further proof was needed, especially once fellow bloggers claimed that the 2004 Asian tsunami and a large Australian flood in the mid-1950s also occurred close to a lunar perigee? Fortunately, seismologists, astronomers and most scientific consensus demand a lot more evidence before we blame the moon for natural disasters.

At its perigee, the moon is about 220,000 miles from Earth; at its furthest point, 254,000 miles. Although the moon's gravitational pull is a factor in oceanic tides, there is little evidence to suggest that its pull is great enough to have any substantial effect the Earth's tectonic activity or lead to freak weather patterns.

"Don't get me started on the blogosphere," says a rather weary Kevin Horsburgh, from the National Oceanography Centre in Liverpool which monitors Britain's tidal pattern. "I don't know where they get their ideas. But the great thing about astronomy-driven tidal measurements is that they are completely predictable."