The Supermoon Marooned Ships
An enhanced image of the Moon taken with the NOAO Mosaic CCD camera using two NSF telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory. The Moon is superimposed on a separate image of the sky.
Credit: NOAO/AURA/NSF

While the magnificently super Supermoon that lit up the sky Saturday evening (March 19) doesn't seem to have triggered any natural disasters or induced widespread lunacy, it did maroon five ships, according to the British Coastguard.

In the busy shipping lanes of the Solent, on the western side of the Isle of Wight, the alignment of the sun with an especially nearby moon caused particularly extreme tides throughout the day. Lower than normal tides on Saturday evening left sand and shingle banks exposed, causing one 25-foot yacht to run aground and marooning three other vessels.

Paula-C, a 2,900-tonne cargo ship, got stuck in the sand too and was forced to wait for high tide to lift it clear.

"[There] were no injuries, just some surprise at being caught out like this," a Coastguard spokesman told the press. "Blame it on the moon."

The culprit swung by at a distance of 221,567 miles Saturday night, achieving its distance of closest approach, or "lunar perigee," as well as simultaneously being full. It appeared bigger and brighter in the sky than it has in 19 years.

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