The March 19 full moon will be a large "supermoon" that falls on the vernal equinox. Image: Flickr / versageek / CC-BY-SA

March 19, 2011, is the vernal, or spring, equinox. This particular equinox is distinctive thanks to a perigee moon — commonly known as a “supermoon.” Much more rare than the famed blue moon, the supermoon will appear as the largest moon in 18 years.

The science of the perigee supermoon

The March 19 supermoon appears larger because the orbits of the Earth and moon are not perfectly round. Instead, the orbits are slightly oblong. When the narrowest part of the orbits coincide, the moon appears at its largest, because it is closer to the earth. During the perigee supermoon, the moon isĀ  211,600 miles from the Earth. Due to the closeness of the moon, the gravitational pull of the moon is higher, making the high tides higher and low tides lower.

Marking the vernal equinox

The perigee supermoon on March 19 is an even more rare event because it happens during the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox is the midway point between the summer and winter solstices. During the equinox, the day is equally as long as the night. The spring equinox is usually marked as a time of new growth and rebirth in most religions. Depending on the religion, the equinox can be called:

Alban Eilir, Eostar, Eostre, Feast of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Festival of Trees, Lady Day, NawRuz, No Ruz, Ostara, Ostra, Rites of Spring

The blue moon effect

A blue moon is, technically, any time that there is an extra moon in the cycle of the year. The next blue moon is in 2012. The perigee moon, however, is much more rare than the blue moon. There is a theory that human behavior is heavily influenced by the full moon and blue moon. Meta-analysis as well as independent studies have verified that there is no correlation between human behavior and the status of the moon. Though there is no scientifically verified blue moon effect, those who can see the supermoon will likely take a few extra moments to admire the 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger lunar view.


Wikipedia – Lunar Effect:
Moon Connection:

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