- (Photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)
New studies reported Wednesday have scientists blaming the moon for the disastrous sinking of the Titanic a century ago.
While the ocean liner is widely believed to have struck an iceberg and sunk on that fateful night in 1912, a team of Texas State University physicists and astronomers are blaming the moon.
"The lunar connection may explain how an unusually large number of icebergs got into the path of the Titanic," explained Donald Olson, a physicist at Texas State.
The Titanic sunk in the early hours on April 15, 1912, killing 1,517 people.
Astronomers say that they have discovered an extremely rare lunar event called a "supermoon" had occurred on the night of January 4, 1912. A supermoon refers to an occurrence where a full moon coincides with spring tide as well as Earth's perihelion- when the moon is closest to the sun.
Along with Olson, Texas astronomer Russell Doescher also indicates that the moon caused the iceberg motion into the path of the Titanic, which struck it three-and-a-half months later near Newfoundland.
The scientists alleged that the supermoon caused extreme tides which may have dislodged icebergs and cast them into southbound ocean currents.
"This configuration maximized the moon's tide-raising forces on the Earth's oceans," Olson clarified, according to Reuters. "That's remarkable."
Regardless of a supermoon, the ultimate cause of the Titanic's sinking was the failure of the ship's crew to respond to warning messages about dangerous icy conditions on the water.
Researchers have long wondered why Captain Edward Smith did not heed warnings of icebergs in the area while the ship sailed.
Olson, Doescher, and Roger Sinnott- senior contributing editor at Sky & Telescope magazine- published their findings in the April 2012 edition of "Sky & Telescope." The edition is available on newsstands now.