Artist's impression of the Titanic on a moon-lit nightGoogle Images

New studies into the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 are coming to light 100 years after the ship’s tragedy while on its maiden voyage. A team of astronomers from a Texas university believe a rare lunar occurrence may have played a role in the sinking of the Titanic.

Gawker is reporting that a team of astronomers from Texas State University at San Marcos believes that a rare lunar event caused the shipping lanes in the Atlantic Ocean, where the Titanic was sailing, to become extra full with icebergs.

The rare occurrence, which is described as “once-in-many-lifetimes,” placed a full-moon’s distance from the Earth the shortest it had been on 1,400 years on January 4, 1912. And the day before that, January 3, 1912, the Earth had come its closest to the sun while in orbit.

This, of course, had implications for tides in the Atlantic. The rare event helped dislodge icebergs in a comparatively shorter time than usual. Thus, they were free to float into the shipping lanes in April of 1912, posing disastrous for the Titanic.

However, before history becomes rewritten on this new find, the study’s co-author Donald Olsen, reminds us that human error played just as large a part in the tragedy:

"Of course, the ultimate cause of the accident was that the ship struck an iceberg. The Titanic failed to slow down, even after having received several wireless messages warning of ice ahead. They went full speed into a region with icebergs-that's really what sank the ship, but the lunar connection may explain how an unusually large number of icebergs got into the path of the Titanic."

The findings, which come just weeks before the centenary of the Titanic’s sinking, were published in the April 2012 edition of Sky & Telescope magazine.