Blaming a full moon when something bad happens is a popular notion, but there’s no cosmic connection, according to Austrian government researchers.
A team of experts from the Ministry of Economic Affairs analyzed 500,000 industrial accidents in Austria between 2000 and 2004 and found no link to lunar activity.
“The full moon does not unfavorably affect the likelihood of an accident,” said Robert Seeberger, a physicist and astronomer at the ministry.
The study, released Tuesday by the General Accident Insurance Office, said that on average there were 415 workplace accidents registered per day. Yet on days when the moon was full, the average actually dipped to 385, though the difference was not statistically significant.
Seeberger, who advises the Austrian government on accident prevention, also checked for a possible interplay between the rate of accidents and the position of the moon relative to Earth, theorizing that gravity might have some effect in tripping people up at work.
But the moon orbits the planet in almost a perfect circle, and there was also no statistically significant relationship between the accident rate and the moon’s closest proximity to Earth.
The lunar influence theory dates at least to the first century A.D., when the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder wrote that his observations suggested “the moon produces drowsiness and stupor in those who sleep outside beneath her beams,” the Associated Press reports.
Most scientists agree, according to AP, that at nearly 239,240 miles away, the moon is simply too distant for it to have any significant effect.