For fifteen days in November, the Earth will be blanketed in darkness during an astronomical blackout like nothing you’ve seen before! Except it won’t, because what the fuck is an “astronomical blackout”? Isn’t the universe cool enough without making shit up?
According to hoax-originators Newswatch33, the blackout will be between November 15, 2015 and November 29, 2015. The event hasn’t occurred in “over one million years” (or, y’know, EVER), and is caused by planetary hanky-panky between Venus and Jupiter that does... uh... something that suddenly blankets the Earth in total darkness.
Or if you ask other, equally-disreputable sources, maybe it’s a solar storm, where electrical blackouts translate into eternal blackness. Or if we want to be truly sensible about it, it’s a a giant mystical hand draping a blanket over our planet like we’re birds in a cage. Better yet, maybe it’s Earth Hour gone universal with a cosmic lights-out to delay the inevitable heat-death of the universe by a few weeks.
In short, the idea of a multi-day planetary astronomical blackout is absolute nonsense, with nothing even vaguely resembling a sensible or scientific basis. As for shorter, localized blackouts? We have those all the time: they’re called “night.”
Yet, of course, the Crank of the Week claims it’s been “Confirmed by NASA!!” and/or “Covered up by NASA!!” — because our poor beleaguered space agency doesn’t have better things to do than sigh over the constant barrage of doomsday hoaxes. They even claim that Administrator Charles Bolden wrote a thousand-page document to the White House explaining the alleged blackout. That is an impressively large document to expect anyone to actually read, unless it’s part of some defensive tactic based on the premise that darkness fears paperwork. Or maybe we can use it to start a multi-week bonfire to chase away the night.
I’m utterly baffled by this particular hoax. How does this sound even vaguely plausible to anyone? Can we all just stop, think about the logistics of how an “astronomical blackout” would possibly happen, then have a good laugh and go do something more exciting? Because my nail polish is chipped, I haven’t put away that clean laundry yet, and I could always get a head start on my taxes.
Of course, winter storm season is rapidly approaching in the northern hemisphere, so if you want to use this doomsday myth as the encouragement you need to prepare for an actual blackout, go for it. Spare batteries, functional flashlights, and a goodly supply of blankets are always a good idea.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby