A full moon is often mesmerizing, lighting up the sky and sometimes appearing so large, it’s as if you can reach out and touch it.
In fact, when the moon seems so large and so close, that’s because it is.
It’s called a supermoon and it has entered something called perigree, when the moon’s orbit is closest to Earth.
So, the supermoon phenomenon happens when a full moon is in perigree and nearest Earth.
While most people enjoy a full moon because, after all, it’s just so picturesque, Earth’s closest neighbor also affects humans and the planet in both obvious and subtle ways, according to lunar studies.
The moon exerts a gravitational force on Earth’s oceans, and regions of water closest to the lunar surface are pulled toward it, creating a bulge on the water’s surface, according to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “There is also a bulge on the opposite side of the earth, caused by the difference in the moon’s gravitational force across the planet.”
These bulges, known as tidal bulges, on opposite sides of Earth are very small when compared with the radius of Earth --- less than a meter in the open-ocean --- but because the oceans are so vast, tidal bulges can raise a huge amount of water and the resulting tide is called a lunar tide.
People and animals are affected by the lunar cycles, too, but scientists still don’t know the full extent of the impact on behavior and physiology.
Some studies have shown that the moon has an affect on human reproduction, like fertility and birth rates, while other research has found no link.
Hospital and emergency room visits for various health problems were linked to the phases of the moon, and traffic accidents, crimes and suicides also seemed to be influenced by the lunar cycle, in several reports, according to a 2006 study on the lunar cycle’s effect.
But other research found no connection at all between the moon and visits to emergency rooms or human reproduction.
More research is needed to say for certain how the moon affects people and their behavior and which phases of the moon impact it the most.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.
Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.