THAILAND - The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand yesterday dismissed widespread rumours that the upcoming lunar perigee - the so-called supermoon - will bring about apocalyptic events.
"Don't believe that the supermoon will bring doomsday," NARIT deputy director Saran Posayajinda said.
"This natural phenomenon will just push up water levels by between 1 and 12 centimetres. It will not cause any big earthquake whatsoever."
A supermoon occurs when the perigee coincides with a full moon.
At 10.34pm on Sunday tomorrow, the moon will be closer to the Earth than at any other time in the past year.
At that moment, the moon is expected to be just 356,953 kilometres away from the Earth.
To human eyes, the moon will grow bigger by a few per cent during the perigee tonight.
Last year, the moon got closest to the Earth at about 2.10am on March 20. It was just 356,577km away.
Rumours that the supermoon will cause disasters are spreading like wildfire, though. Some people are really worried, while some others say they just have to take precautions.
"I am moving my belongings to higher ground," Payom Kaewdaeng said. He is a resident of the Pak Klong area of Ranong's Muang district.
He said people in many coastal communities had taken the same steps.
"The sea level has sometimes got so high that it damaged our stuff," Payom said. Many people have erected sandbag walls around their houses.
A disaster prevention and mitigation official in Ranong said that when the moon gets closer to the Earth, sea tides are harsher for about two weeks.
"But there will be no serious impacts, besides the moon shining brighter."