April 2013 will mark the hundred and first anniversary of the Titanic Tragedy. A group of astronomers at Texas State University are convinced (and so am I), that the Moon and the Sun are, even if partly, to blame for the accident, read their publication here.
|The Titanic, haven't you seen the movie?|
Sky & Telescope magazine published in their April 2012 issue this theory put forward by Donald Olson, Russell Doescher and Roger Sinnott (the people with the cool jobs).
The Titanic, the largest ship on the seas at that time, was travelling from Southampton to New York City, but hit an iceberg near the end of its voyage, killing nearly 1,517 passengers.
This collision caused its plates to buckle inward and a number of holes got filled with water and so it sank, bow-first, at 3:30 am on April 15th, its wreckage remains 3,784 meters (12,415 feet) below sea level. The remains were discovered during a secret Cold War navy mission in 1985.
There is evidence to support this theory; it all begins on January 4th 1912, with a special Earth-Sun-Moon geometry, these three celestial bodies were aligned so that the gravitational forces applied on the Earth were very strong, causing spring tides, a cycle of high and low tides. More information on the variation of tides can be found in one of my previous entries here.
|Earth's High and Low Tide|
I know you’re thinking, so this happens every year? Fortunately no, because that day, the Moon was at its shortest distance away from the Earth in 1,400 years, and the day before that, the Earth made its closest annual approach to the Sun. Also, this Earth-Moon contact occurred within six minutes of a full moon.
So this higher gravitational force caused the icebergs to break off their homeland in Greenland, and then got pushed south getting stuck in the shallow waters off the coasts of Labrador and Newfoundland where they surprised the Titanic.
|This photograph shows a grounded iceberg near Dunfield, Newfoundland|
Check the following map, in red, you can find the hypothetical path of the iceberg that travelled “downtown” and the path of the Titanic is shown in yellow. The time separating the iceberg’s departure and the collision is some four months and ten days, leading to the disaster on the night of April 14th 1912.
|Titanic and Iceberg paths and collision - Credits to www.txstate.edu|
The team's Titanic research may have justified Captain Edward Smith’s behavior towards its casual response to iceberg alerts since oceanographers classified this event as an ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ occurrence.
...Seriously, how cool is forensic astronomy?