On March 19, the moon will be the closest it has been to the Earth in 18 years. It will also be at its fullest.
This phenomenon, dubbed a “SuperMoon” in the 1970s by astrologer Richard Nolle—describing a new or full moon phase at 90 percent or more of its closest orbit to Earth—has sent chills down the spines of countless Internet surfers across the globe, fears amplified by its uncanny timing on the heels of the recent 8.9-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami (SEE VIDEO BELOW) that has devastated parts of Japan and potentially killed more than 10,000 people in one town alone, according to estimates from one Japanese official cited in multiple media outlets.
Not to mention the three nuclear plants damaged in the massive swell’s wake and teetering on meltdown status as this post is crafted.
The March 19 celestial event is also called a “lunar perigee.” The 100-percent full moon will approach the Earth at a distance of 221,567 miles, as opposed to its average distance of about 239,000 miles, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Stoking the flames across cyberspace are Nolle’s predictions. The “certified professional astrologer,” as his website, astropro.com, tags him, has a remarkably unearthly ability to link terrestrial events—including wars, revolutions, financial upheaval, disruptions in the world’s oil supply chain and natural disasters, to name a few—to extraterrestrial and interplanetary episodes unfolding throughout the heavens.
Nolle’s “March 2011 Forecast” (which advises of many other foreboding cosmic happenings), warns of the March 19 “SuperMoon,” foretelling of a slew of natural disasters brought about by the soon-gigantic lunar satellite.
“Markets, geopolitics and history aside, you can’t get there from here if you don’t get out of Mother Nature’s way,” he writes. “First and foremost, that means being mindful of the March 19 full moon 28° 48′ Virgo. It’s arguably the year’s most extreme SuperMoon, for a couple of reasons: it’s the closest SuperMoon of the year, occurring within an hour of lunar perigee (the Moon’s closest approach to Earth): the Moon will look huge when it rises at sunset.
“And being so close to the vernal equinox, this SuperMoon occurs within hours of the moment the full moon crosses the celestial equator from north to south, just as the Sun crosses in the opposite direction,” he continues. “That makes this a major geophysical stress window, centered on the actual alignment date but in effect from the 16th through the 22nd.
“Of course you can expect the usual: a surge in extreme tides along the coasts, a rash of moderate-to-severe seismic activity (including magnitude 5+ earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions), and most especially in this case a dramatic spike in powerful storms with heavy precipitation, damaging winds and extreme electrical activity,” explains Nolle. “Floods are a big part of the picture in this case, although some of these will be dry electrical storms that spark fast-spreading wildfires.”
As prophetic as Nolle’s ominous prognostications may be, others versed in the mysterious ways of the cosmos have been taking to the Internet to quell such fears.
On March 11, NASA posted a Q&A on its website featuring Dr. James Garvin, chief scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who downplayed any adverse effects the moon’s close proximity would have here on Earth.
“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, and being in its ‘full moon’ configuration (relative to the Earth and sun), should not affect the internal energy balance of the Earth since there are lunar tides every day,” he explains. “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).
“Nonetheless, these supermoon times remind us of the effect of our ‘Africa-sized’ nearest neighbor on our lives, affecting ocean tides and contributing to many cultural aspects of our lives (as a visible aspect of how our planet is part of the solar system and space).”
Other experts have also sought to dispel fears of a lunar apocalypse—and any possible connection between the Japanese earthquake and forthcoming SuperMoon visit.
“The recent Japanese earthquake and the upcoming full moon have no correlation at all,” asserts Santhosh Mathew, PhD, a professor and science writer who penned a March 15 post for The Huffington Post, titled “The Moon Is Not A Harsh Mistress.” “The moon will be at its perigee on March 19th and was actually farther than the average distance on the day the Japanese quake hit.
“Scientists have studied the moon for decades and have found no conclusive evidence to connect the moon with the seismic activities here on Earth,” he continues. “Being in an elliptical orbit, the moon’s distance varies as it orbits the Earth. It will go through perigees and apogees several times a year. On some of these occasions we may face natural disasters but many other days are just fine. If we insist on finding the correlation between earthly events and celestial phenomena, we could find plenty of them, and there are numerous such incidents in the universe to link even with our everyday activities. No wonder that in the past (perhaps even now) people believed moon can affect our individual moods. Remember the phrase lunatic!
“The Moon’s gravitational pull on Earth at lunar perigee is not hugely different from other times, which can be calculated from simple mathematical equations,” he adds. “Even if we consider the effect of the Sun along with that of the noon when they align together, it is not significant enough to alter the internal balance of the Earth. We can reasonably assume that the only change on March 19th would be an apparently bigger Moon and it may offer a special treat for skygazers.”
Still, the intergalactic planetary alignment and mathematical coincidences of such interstellar heavenly phenomena are hard to dismiss outright.
Hurricane Katrina, for example, which turned New Orleans into a toxic cesspool of death and destruction, leveled much of the United States’ Gulf Coast, claimed more than 1,800 lives and cost more than $81 billion in damages, formed over the Bahamas on Aug. 23, 2005.
A full supermoon occurred on Aug. 19, 2005, just four days before, according to a “21st Century SuperMoon Alignments” calendar posted on Nolle’s site.
The cataclysmic 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami, which claimed the lives of more than 230,000 people from 14 countries and pounded coastlines with more than 100-foot-high waves, occurred on Dec. 26, 2004.
A new phase supermoon occurred on Dec. 12, 2004 and Jan. 10, 2005, reads the calendar.
“Being planetary in scale, there’s no place on our home planet that’s beyond the range of a SuperMoon, so it wouldn’t hurt to make ready wherever you are or plan to be during the March 16-22 SuperMoon risk window,” Nolle advises, adding that the upcoming March 19 SuperMoon isn’t the only thing we Earth-dwellers should be concerned about.
“The March 19 SuperMoon is by far the most significant storm and seismic indicator this month, but it’s not the only one,” he adds.
Another story, dear readers.