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March 11, 2011

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Big moon should not cause a big panic

ASTRONOMY buffs in the city may enjoy seeing a "bigger" moon on Saturday night, when it will be at its closest to the Earth since 1992. But astronomers said the movement of the moon will not bring chaos to the city after some apocalyptic warnings stirred up panic among netizens.

The moon will be closer to the Earth than at any other time in the past 19 years - it will be approximately 356,577.5 kilometers away from the Earth, compared with an average distance of about 380,000km, according to astronomy experts.

But the news was followed by warnings across the Internet saying the Earth, especially coastal cities like Shanghai, might suffer tidal waves caused by the moon's gravitational pull and other natural disasters.

Some amateur astronomers said online that the movement of the moon had something to do with the extreme weather, such as droughts, floods and storms, that has hit China and many other countries over the past year, causing casualties and great economic losses.

But astronomy experts from Shanghai and Beijing said the warnings were total nonsense, as the movement of the moon is quite normal and cannot be directly linked with disastrous tidal waves, volcanic eruptions or even earthquakes.

"Although the moon will be at its closest in 19 years, it is still too far away - not close enough to the Earth to have severe impacts," said Kou Wen, senior engineer at the Beijing Planetarium.

Tang Haiming, an astronomy expert at Shanghai Sheshan Observatory also told Shanghai Daily that the city would not be affected by the event. Tang said the moon will not be significantly enlarged in shape when observed by human eyes.


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