Clearly there’s a lot of confusion about what’s really a SuperMoon. I know, because I created and defined the term in an article published over 30 years ago. When I see people misrepresenting the idea, not really understanding it at all, I feel impelled – not compelled – to try and set the record straight. Words mean things, after all . . . For example, referring to the date of the last SuperMoon as 18 years ago – as several media reports are doing lately – is completely wrong. There are 4-6 SuperMoons a year. The one on March 19, 2011 is in fact the closest SuperMoon of the year, but it’s not by any means the first one in 18 years, nor even the first extreme SuperMoon in 18 years. The truth is, March 19 will be the second SuperMoon this year, and we only have to go back to January 30, 2010 to find the last example of an extreme SuperMoon; as revealed in my tables published in the last century. There was a SuperMoon in effect February 12-21 this year in fact, which anyone who actually read my 2011 World Forecast Highlights would know. And I’m sure you’re aware of the Christchurch earthquake that practically destroyed that city on the last day of that interval. (All my forecasts are in UT, which equates to February 22, 2011 New Zealand time.) I’ve done a few interviews on this subject already, for example on the Red Symons ABC Radio program in Melbourne, Australia; and in each and every case the contact was due to other sources writing about “supermoon” effects which do not fit within the parameters as I defined them more than three decades ago. Clearly, it’s time to set the record straight. (This is a work in progress, in fact just the stub of an article I’m writing to clear up all the confusion – so check back often to get the whole story.)

SuperMoon is a word I coined in a 1979 article for Dell Publishing Company’s HOROSCOPE magazine, describing a new or full moon which occurs with the Moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit. In short, Earth, Moon and Sun are all in a line, with Moon in its nearest approach to Earth. At any new or full moon, Earth and Moon and Sun are all in a line: Earth is in the middle in the full moon alignment, while the new moon happens with Moon in the middle. This coming together in an alignment is technically termed a syzygy. Sometimes – from a few times to a half-dozen times in a given year – these alignments also happen when the Moon is in its perigee, or closest approach to Earth. Astronomers call this very special alignment a perigee-syzygy. I call it a SuperMoon – which is a whole lot easier on the tongue. (My most recent print article on this subject appeared in the October-November 2007 issue of The Mountain Astrologer.)

SuperMoons are noteworthy for their close association with extreme tidal forces working in what astrologers of old used to call the sublunary world: the atmosphere, crust and oceans of our home planet – including ourselves, of course. From extreme coastal tides to severe storms to powerful earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the entire natural world surges and spasms under the sway of the SuperMoon alignment – within three days either way of the exact syzygy, as a general rule. SuperMoon solar eclipses tend to have a wider sphere of impact, extending roughly a week before and after the actual event. And other lunar extremes (of declination, for example) can extend the geocosmic stress window by a day or two here and there in any case.

If you’re interested in the history of SuperMoon alignments in connection with great storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, you’ll find a sampling of them in my book Interpreting Astrology (published by the American Federation of Astrologers). But a simple review of the news over the past few years should serve to get you acquainted. Take Hurricane Katrina, for example; spawned from a tropical depression formed within three days of the August 19 SuperMoon. My forecast for 2005 warned of severe storms within plus or minus three days of the day Hurricane Katrina formed, and even specified the Gulf of Mexico as one of the areas at risk in connection with that particular SuperMoon alignment. I’ve done this for over thirty years now, from articles in the astrology press to the online forecasts at my website, astropro. You can play along at home, using my handy tables of all 20th and 21st Century SuperMoon alignments. (You might even find that you were born under a SuperMoon.)

Examples of the SuperMoon connection with major storms and seismic events abound: the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, the largest volcanic event in the second half of the 20th Century, took place on June 15, 1991 (within three days of a SuperMoon); the October 6, 1948 Richter 7.3 earthquake that struck Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and took 110,000 lives, one of the deadliest earthquakes on record (again within three days of a SuperMoon, allowing for time zones); and the September 8, 1900 hurricane and tidal surge that struck Galveston, Texas on the day of a SuperMoon, which killed more people (8,000 dead) than any other Atlantic hurricane on record and remains the deadliest natural disaster yet to strike the United States. I’m just scratching the surface here, citing only a few historic instances in the past hundred years or so. Look a little deeper, and you’ll run across literally hundreds more greater and lesser seismic and meteorological disturbances, from Hurricane Andrew in 1992 to the 1989 World Series (Loma Prieta) earthquake – just to name a couple contemporary notable examples.

More recently, there was the February 28, 2010 SuperMoon, which well illustrates the storm and seismic potential associated with this alignment. As described in my 2010 World Forecast Highlights, the geocosmic shock window associated with the February 28 SuperMoon ran “from February 25 through March 3,” signaling a “newsworthy upsurge in moderate-to-severe seismic activity (including magnitude 5+ earthquakes and volcanic eruptions), plus strong storms with damaging winds and heavy precipitation; along with extreme high tides.” My forecast described the alignment as “global in scope by definition,” but with “special risk zones” including “west-central South America.” If you don’t remember it, Google the freakish combination of a monster megathrust 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile, a Pacific tsunami, the “snow hurricane” in the Northeastern US, and hurricane-force killer winds in France – all happening at once on February 27.

Obviously it won’t be the case that all hell will break loose all over the world within a few days either side of the SuperMoons of 2011. For most of us, the geocosmic risk raised by SuperMoon alignments will pass with little notice in our immediate vicinity. In the grand scheme of things, we may live on a little blue marble in space; but it’s still a rather roomy planet, after all. A SuperMoon is planetary in scale, being a special alignment of Earth, Sun and Moon. By the same token, it’s planetary in scope, in the sense that there’s no place on Earth not subject to the tidal force of the perigee-syzygy. Of course, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions don’t go wandering all over the planet. They happen in (mostly) predictable locations, like the infamous “Ring of Fire” around the Pacific plate. If you’re in (or plan to be in) a place that’s subject to seismic upheaval during a SuperMoon stress window, it’s not hard to figure out that being prepared to the extent that you can is not a bad idea. Likewise, people on the coast should be prepared for extreme tidal surges. Severe storms on the other hand can strike just about anywhere, so it behooves us all to be ready for rough weather when a SuperMoon alignment forms. Astro-locality mapping each SuperMoon can help indicate areas of special risk, but the whole planet is in the bull’s eye when one of these geocosmic shock windows opens up. Don’t be paranoid – but don’t be complacent, either.

That said, there’s no harm in making sensible preparations for this year’s SuperMoons. The worst that can happen, if the worst doesn’t happen, is that you end up with a stock of fresh batteries and candles, some extra bottled water and canned goods, maybe a full tank of gas and an evacuation bag packed just in case. (The US Department of Homeland Security has a detailed evacuation kit inventory that, to quote them, “could mean the difference between life and death”.) And maybe you’ll think twice about being in transit and vulnerable to the weather hazards and delays that are so common during SuperMoon alignments. These are the kind of sensible precautions that can make a big difference if the worst does come to pass. It certainly will come to pass somewhere – hopefully far from you and me, but we can’t be sure of that.

Richard Nolle, Certified Professional Astrologer
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