It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
An ultrarare alignment of the sun, the full moon, and Earth, they say, may have set the April 14, 1912, tragedy in motion, according to a new report.
It will be 100 years next month since its tragic sinking on April 14, 1912, but the Titanic still haunts us, and definitely still has the mojo to get people buzzing. The latest news comes to us courtesy of the April 2012 issue of Sky & Telescope, in which our favorite "forensic astronomer," Texas State University-San Marcos' Donald Olson, presents his hypothesis on how the moon might have contributed to the ocean liner's demise, taking 1500 people with it into the icy depths.
Originally posted by Wrabbit2000
I kinda thought the mysteries of the Titanic were solved when they spent a couple seasons running over the wreck, inch by inch and rivet by rivet for what they could see. Sounds like an entirely understandable tragedy from what I've heard of it.
So what does the moon have to with all this? It all comes down to tides, and the moon's influence thereof. Specifically, on January 4, 1912, there was a rare alignment of the moon and sun, such that the two bodies' gravitational pulls added together to produce a "spring tide" -- abnormally high tides.
It's an hypothesis first predicted by the late coeanographer Fergus J. Wood, according to the TSU press release;Olson and his team finally determined how this might have come about. Specifically, the moon was at its closet to the Earth in some 1400 years (the perigee), an effect that was exacerbated because the Earth was also at its closest approach to the sun the day before
Olson figured it wouldn't be helpful to check to see if the higher tides led to more glacial caving in Greenland, the source of most of the icebergs in that region. The icebergs needed time to float down to the shipping lanes and get in the direct path of the Titanic.
Why were there so many icebergs that April, that even the rescue ships were forced to slow down? Normally, as the bergs make their way out of Greenland, they become grounded in shallower waters off the Newfoundland coast, so it can take a berg several years to melt enough to "unstick" and continue its southward journey.
The unusually high tides in the winter of 1912, however, dislodged icebergs that would otherwise have remained stuck for much longer, giving them just enough time to reach the shipping lanes. "We don't claim to know exactly where the Titanic iceberg was in January 1912 -- nobody can know that -- but this is a plausable scenario intended to be scientifically reasonable," says Olson.