Today, Saturday March 19 2011, at precisely 7-10pm, the moon will be 356,577 kilometres from the earth, the closest it comes in its elliptical orbit. If we are blessed with clear skies over Walsall just after dusk, the moon at its fullest and rising in the east, will appear larger and brighter than usual. There are some idiots who are terrified.
The happy conjunction of a full moon and such close proximity is really rather rare and if clouds do not obscure the view, we will be treated to the sight of a Perigee Moon not seen since 1993. Back then, the UN Security Council were passing resolutions about no-fly zones and armed interventions. Earthquakes and tsunamis killed people and a royal wedding was in meltdown.
There are some that suggest that this close encounter has, in some way, triggered the dreadful events in Japan. Because the moon influences tides, the crackpot logic of strangers to science and astrophysics claim that the gravitational pull of the moon produces movement in tectonic plates, mood swings in human beings who are 80 per cent water and the draining of coolants intended to keep nuclear reactors safe.
This might explain why the hippo is dragged every lunchtime from his repose and into the nearest pub.
The soothsayers, Mountebanks and mystics who display a complete ignorance of actual science are comparable to cavemen who are frightened by something shiny in the sky. As Shakespeare said in Othello:
“It is the very error of the moon;
She comes more nearer earth than she was wont,
And makes men mad.”
Act V Scene II
The capricious moon will be 406,655 kilometres away on April 2. Will that make the world more sensible?