Posted by: Jerry Garrett | April 12, 2012

Super Moon on May 5, 2012: Cinco de Mayo Spectacular!

Science at NASA’s informative video about Super Moons.

The Moon comes full on May 5 at the same time it makes a fairly close orbital pass of the Earth. The result will be an unusually bright full moon – the largest, closest Moon until 2014. Astronomers call it a “perigee” or “Super Moon“, which is statistically 14 per cent bigger, and 30 percent brighter (compared to, say, other full moons in 2012).

Astronomers have calculated the “precise confluence of a major lunar perigee and the full Moon” will occur at 11:36 p.m. that night, Eastern Daylight Time.

So, what does this mean?

Full Moon & Margies ad

Well, for one thing, it’s Cinco de Mayo; so perhaps the rollicking celebration of Mexico’s upset victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 will be a little more robust this time? (This is often misidentified as Mexico’s Independence Day, which is actually September 16.)

Extreme tides are likely – even more than usually expected during a full Moon. Beaches in California, for example, will see extreme “minus tides” – which can be a bonanza for beachcombers. Check out portions of the ocean floor that are seldom exposed. Some beach flooding can be expected at high tide. (For instance, the highest high tide on May 5 at Humboldt Bay, in northern California, will be 7.92 feet; the lowest low tide, in the predawn hours of May 6, will be -1.90 feet. That’s about four feet more of a variation than today – the day this story was written.)

At Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy, where some of the Earth’s most extreme tidal variations occur, the difference between high and low tides on May 5 and 6 could be 55 feet – or more!

Low Tide @ Fundy (Bay of Fundy.com)

People are reputed to be a little more crazy during a full Moon, hospital emergency rooms are more full, and livestock and marine life act abnormally.

Scientists say such a full Moon could slightly increase the likelihood of triggering an earthquake that might be already on the brink of happening – although it is unlikely to cause an earthquake outright. The solar reflection of such a bright, hot full Moon (hotter than boiling water) could cause temperatures on Earth to rise a half-degree higher. Or it could cause greater likelihood of cloudiness of Earth.

That would be too bad, because this full Moon should be something to see. Especially for hopeless romantics!

New Moon May 20 in an annular eclipse (NASA)

[Note: This particular lunar pass will also result in a rare “Ring of Fire” annular solar eclipse on May 20. Read more about that here.]

Jerry Garrett

April 12, 2012


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