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Skywatch

Fri May 6, 2016 PERIGEAN SPRING TIDES AT NEW MOON

The moon is new today, between us and the sun, and therefore it can’t be seen. The moon is also at its closest distance to us this month - what’s called perigee - a mere 222,000, miles, approximately. That’s less than the average distance of roughly 238,000 miles, and way less than the far-out apogee distance of about 252,000 miles. When the moon is full or new as it is now, we have very high high tides and very low low tides. That’s because when the moon, the Earth and the sun line up, the tidal pull on the Earth and its oceans is intensified. This exaggerated ebb and flow of the water is known as spring tides – it’s got nothing to do with the season of spring, in fact we have spring tides twice a month, whenever the moon is full OR new. They’re called spring tides because the water “springs up.” So the moon is at perigee, and we have spring tides; combine the terms and you “perigean spring tides”. High tides will be really high and low tides will be really low!