Vernal Equinox and Supermoon March 2011 – Weather Conditions for Event

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(Best Syndication News) The moon will be the closest to Earth it has been in 18 years on March 19th 2011 during the vernal equinox (see two images below). This year the vernal equinox will occur on Sunday March 20th. Today is also Sun Earth Day.

An equinox occurs twice a year with one marking the beginning of spring and the other marking the beginning of fall (or around that time). It is when the Earth’s tilt is neither pointing away or towards the sun and the planet’s equator is in direct line with the sun. Basically, the sun is on the same plane with the Earth’s equator.

As the moon orbits the earth, it traverses an elliptical pattern with the earth near a focus (the earth is not in the center of the elipse). The orbit of the moon, not to be confused with a lunar orbit but sometimes referred to as the Selenocentric orbit, has a minimum and maximum distance point called the periapsis and apoapsis. The actual altitudes (distances) are called the perilune and apolune.

The supermoon (astronomical term: perigee-syzygy) is a real and astrological phenomenon. Not only is the moon at it’s fullest, it is closest to the earth. This year the supermoon will appear near the vernal equinox.

Although NASA says that there is no evidence to suggest that there is a relationship between the supermoon and disasters, including earthquakes and the weather, the moon does play a role in the earth’s tides. The gravitation of the moon pulls the earth’s oceans as the planet rotates. Scientists do not think the moon’s gravitational pull will affect the earth’s mantle, thus pushing on the crust and tectonic plates slightly causing earthquakes.

Interestingly, the highest tides typically do not occur on the periapsis, but usually a day or two later.

The moon reaches a maximum distance of 254,000 miles (410,000 km) from the earth. The minimum distance from the Earth is 220,000 miles (354,000 km). It is that minimum distance that raises the superstitions.

A NASA report said the full moon of March 19th occurs less than one hour away from perigee. This is considered “a near-perfect coincidence that happens only once in 18 years or so."

In California the weather should be overcast but along the east coast the skies should be clear. The National Weather Service says we can expect rain on the west coast Sunday.

Both astronomers and astrologers are interested in this event.

By: Julie Marcus
Science Wrtier

Image below: Basic Earth's moon orbit properties (wikimedia).

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Image below: Illumination of Earth by the Sun at the March equinox by: Dennis Nilsson

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