Fear not the ‘supermoon'

IF YOU think a full moon is spectacular, then set your eyes on the sky for tonight's “supermoon”, which is closer to Earth than it has been in nearly two decades.

The moon will be 356,575km from the Earth, making it 7% closer than average and 5km nearer than the previous record in January 2005. Along with a slightly bigger appearance, the Moon will be about 15% brighter than usual.

North Coast-based writer for Australian Science Magazine Dave Reneke said he wants to debunk the “supermoon” myth doing the rounds on the internet, which claims the moon's close proximity may trigger earthquakes, floods or volcanic eruptions.

The idea was spawned by US astrologer Richard Nolle, who claims there is a link between natural disasters and “supermoons”.

Since then the internet has been flooded with speculation linking the movement of the moon to extreme weather events including Hurricane Katrina and the Hunter Valley floods.

“Supermoon is a term coined by an astrologer, not an astronomer, and it has no scientific merit whatsoever,” Mr Reneke said. “The warnings are total nonsense.

“If you try hard enough you can associate any disaster in history to any celestial object. The moon has come close to the Earth thousands of times in the past with no ill effects. So grab your binoculars and the kids, head out into your backyard for a good view ... and leave the insurance policy inside.”

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