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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Supermoon on March 19, 2011

Supermoon is a full or new moon that coincides with a close approach by the Moon to the Earth. The Moon's distance varies each month between approximately 354,000 km and 410,000 km.

On Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. EST (i.e. 00:30 hrs on Sunday March 20, 2011 IST), the moon will arrive at its closest point to the Earth in 2011: a distance of 356,575 kilometers (221,565 miles) away. And only 50 minutes earlier, the moon will officially be full. The moon has not been in a position to appear this large since March 1993.

At its peak, the supermoon of March may appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than lesser full moons (when the moon is at its farthest from Earth), weather permitting. Yet to the casual observer, it may be hard to tell the difference.

Speculations of a link between the occurrence of supermoons and natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunami are extremely tenuous. Arguments have been made that natural disasters coinciding with years in which supermoons occurred were influenced by the Moon's increased gravitational strength, though because of the monthly alternation between lunar apogee and perigee such an argument cannot be supported unless the disaster in question falls on the actual date of the supermoon.

It has been argued that the Indian Ocean tsunami and earthquake on December 26, 2004, was influenced by a supermoon which occurred 2 weeks later on January 10, 2005. Most recently, astrologers argued that the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, was influenced by the March 19 supermoon, the closest supermoon since 1992.
While some studies have reported a weak correlation between shallow, very low intensity earthquakes and lunar activity, there is no empirical evidence of any correlation with major earthquakes.