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Experts say don’t panic over supernova, superior conjunction



PHUKET: Scientists at the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (Narit) have dismissed fears of any devastating effects of the Saturn-Sun-Earth constellation alignment, which began on Thursday and is expected to affect the Earth for the next four weeks.

“This is a simple phenomenon called a ‘superior conjunction’. It happens every 378 days,” explained Dr Utane Sawangwit, of Narit’s Research and Development Department.

“We have never suffered any consequences from this phenomenon. It affects the high and low tides, but it has never caused an earthquake or a tsunami,” he told the Phuket Gazette.

“The effect is as dramatic as that of the regular spring tides,” added Dr Utane, who was born and raised in Phuket.

One reader pointed the Gazette to a website which claimed that the phenomenon, coupled with the effects of supernovae in other galaxies, could affect the gravitational pull on the Earth’s tectonic plates, with disastrous consequences.

The website claimed that, starting from October 25, the Australian and African Plates would be lifted from East to West by as much as 30 meters.

After reviewing the scientific content posted on the website, however, Dr Utane explained, “This website mixes theories about the acceleration of the expansion of the universe with the far-reaching effects of a supernovae in another galaxy, and couples that with gravitational theories about Saturn, the Sun and the Earth being in alignment.

“First, there cannot be a supernovae in our universe. Our sun is not large enough to supernova, and it will be 5,000 million years until it reaches a stage that could even make that possible.

“Also, we have yet to discover a star that could supernova and is close enough to affect us,” he said.

“Please inform your readers, especially those who have read this website, not to worry at all about a supernova. But please remember that earthquakes can happen at any time. We cannot predict them. That’s what makes them so dangerous.

“Phuket and the surrounding areas are not likely to suffer any serious earthquakes, but it’s always good to be prepared,” Dr Utane said.

— Chutharat Plerin


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