Tuesday, May 1, 2012

View The 2012 Super Moon On Saturday, May 5

Super Moon

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- The 2012 Super Moon, the largest and brightest full moon for 2012, will occur this Saturday, May 5, 2012.  This full moon will be only about 221,567 miles (356,578 km) from Earth.  The average distance between the Earth and the moon is about 238,000 miles (383,024 km).  The furthest point away is about 254,000 miles (408,773 km).


So the moon on May 5, 2012 at 11:35 Eastern Daylight Time will be around 17,000 miles (27,359 km) closer than usual as it rounds Earth in its elliptical orbit.  The technical term is perigee-syzygy.  A popularized term is "super moon."


A full moon at its closest point to Earth definitely will be big and bright. But it won't look much, if any, different than a "normal" full moon and will not have any readily observable effect on our planet except perhaps slightly higher tides.


While many fear that a supermoon could cause 2012 apocalyptic catastrophes on Earth such as volcanoes, earthquakes, and tidal waves due to the increased gravitational pool of the supermoon, NASA officials say that the effects on Earth from a supermoon are minor, and according to the most detailed studies by terrestrial seismologists and volcanologists, the combination of the moon being at its closest to Earth in its orbit.  


Being in its 'full moon' configuration (relative to the Earth and sun), the gravitational pull should not affect the internal energy balance of the Earth since there are lunar tides every day.  The Earth has stored a tremendous amount of internal energy within its thin outer shell or crust, and the small differences in the tidal forces exerted by the moon (and sun) are not enough to fundamentally overcome the much larger forces within the planet due to convection (and other aspects of the internal energy balance that drives plate tectonics). 


IMAGE CREDIT: NASA