Thousands go crazy for rare ‘supermoon’

Close encounter: The moon rising behind the US Capitol in Washington, DC. © Getty

Can the Moon really affect our minds? This weekend photos emerged of an unusual looking full Moon brightening skies all over the world. Humans remain as entranced by our satellite as ever.

What’s happening

This week the world was united in one activity: gazing at a supermoon. To observers, the Moon appeared much larger and brighter. But some were looking out for other peculiar goings-on. They were sure that there would be unusual crimes, illnesses, or even unexpected births — all because of the Moon.

Find out more

The idea that lunar cycles influence human behaviour is as old as time. It does affect the tides with gravity, and the Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that it also moved the water in human brains. Over time the Moon came to be associated with madness: the word “lunacy” comes from the Latin for “moon”.

Many still hold such beliefs today. Nurses cite strange cases during full Moons. Police forces report spikes in crime and violence: some even send out extra officers on these nights.

Most scientists think that a connection between human behaviour and the Moon is nonsense. Yet this belief persists. This could be a result of the many films and books which show werewolves and vampires coming out to play under a full Moon.

Do you believe it?

Some say…

Enough with the superstitions, say some. In this age of electricity, the Moon’s brightness makes no difference to our lives. And as the astronomer George O. Abell said, its gravitational pull on you is less than a mosquito’s. Anyone who claims otherwise is spreading pointless lies — or is just a lunatic.

Others think…

Don’t be so sure, reply others. Just because there is no evidence for the link does not mean it is not there. Scientists agree that lunar cycles affect animals, so why not us? Anyway, this debate is about more than cold reason. It reveals our instinct to search for meaning in the world. Better to be curious than close-minded.

You Decide

  1. Is it good to be superstitious?

Activities

  1. Do you have any superstitions? If you like, share them with your class. Are there any beliefs that many of you have? Why do you think these superstitions are popular?

Some People Say...

“You can be the moon, and still be jealous of the stars.”

Gary Allan

What do you think?

Word Watch

Supermoon
Occurs when the moon becomes full while at its closest point to earth.
Peculiar
Different to what is normal or expected, special.
Aristotle
Lived in Greece 384-322BC.
Lunacy
The state of being mad or insane.
Astronomer
A scientist who studies planets, stars, and other objects in space.
Gravitational
Gravity is the force by which physical objects are attracted to a body with mass or weight.
Instinct
A behaviour or characteristic which is not learned but happens naturally.

Subjects

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