Astronomers call it perigee-syzygy; the rest of us call it “supermoon.” Either way, the alignment of the sun and moon will coincide with the moon’s closest approach to Earth on Saturday (May 5), resulting in the biggest full moon of the year. But don’t worry, it won’t break Earth.
Saturday’s supermoon will be especially super. Richard Nolle, the astrologer who coined the term “supermoon,” defined it as a full moon that occurs within 12 hours of lunar perigee, or the point in the moon’s slightly non-circular monthly orbit when it swings closest to our planet. On Saturday, the timing of the two events will be almost perfect: the moon will reach its perigee distance of 221,802 miles (356,955 kilometers) — the closest lunar perigee of 2012, in fact — at 11:34 p.m. Eastern Time, and it will fall in line with the sun (thereby becoming full) just one minute later.
However, the moon’s smidgen of extra gravitational pull at lunar perigee is not a big enough increase from its pull at other times to measurably increase the likelihood of natural disasters. “A lot of studies have been done on this kind of thing by USGS scientists and others,” said John Bellini, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey. “They haven’t found anything significant at all.”
The scientists said the effect of the supermoon is somewhere between “it has no effect” and “the effect is so small you don’t see it.”
Source: Life’s Little Mysteries
It’s more hype than anything. Phil Plait has an explanation: The Supermoon Stuff? AGAIN?
Surprisingly, a cursory search revealed there were no dire predictions for this latest supermoon. If you find any, please include them in the comments. Maybe we are just tired of these Doomsday scenarios. Ho-hum.