"15 Days of Darkness" Hoax Won't Die

Fake news website NewsWatch33.com promulgates another hoax

NASA press conference
NASA/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Ignore social media reports claiming that NASA has signed off on a prediction that the earth will undergo 15 days of darkness in November 2015 due to an odd confluence of cosmic events. Nothing of the sort has been predicted by scientists.

Variants of the fabricated story have been circulating since 2012. The current version first appeared on the fake news website NewsWatch33.com, which makes its hay spoofing current events and recycling online hoaxes.

The preposterous headlines on the front page of the site say everything you need to know, but if you're in need of further convincing check the disclaimer, which states — or rather understates — that a portion of the site's content is satirical.

It appears to me to be 100% satirical, but in any case the fabricated content isn't marked as such, so the site is generally unreliable even there is a nugget or two of fact hidden on it.

About that supposed 1,000-page report

According to the article in question, NASA administrator Charles Bolden — who is a real person — presented the Obama administration with a 1,000-page report on the upcoming cosmic event. Here's an excerpt from NewsWatch33's summary of the alleged document:

According to the report, on October 26, 2015, Venus and Jupiter will engage in a close parallelism, only being separated by 1 degree. Venus will pass to the southwest of Jupiter, causing Venus to shine 10 times brighter than Jupiter. The light from Venus will heat up the gases on Jupiter causing a reaction.

Codswallop. Planets don't "engage in close parallelisms" — whatever that's supposed to mean. Astronomers do sometimes describe planets as being in "conjunction" — meaning that from an earthly vantage point the planets appear to move closer together in the sky from time to time as they orbit around the sun — but in reality the planets are never close enough together to affect one another physically.

Venus and Jupiter are, on average, 416,399,477 miles apart.

The claim that "light from Venus will heat up the gases on Jupiter, causing a reaction" makes no sense, either. Venus isn't a light source; any light emanating from it would only be reflected light from the sun. No matter how close the two planets got, the light from Venus wouldn't be intense enough to cause atmospheric changes on Jupiter.

"The gaseous reaction will release an unprecedented amount of Hydrogen into Space," the next paragraph begins. Why are "Hydrogen" and "Space" capitalized in that sentence? I don't know. Might as well move on.

"The heat will cause the sun to dim"

Ultimately, the hydrogen from Jupiter is supposed to reach the sun, causing a massive explosion. Here's where it gets even more stupid: "The sun will then attempt to cease the explosions by emitting heat from its core. The heat will cause the sun to dim [sic] to a bluish color."

Why would increased heat cause the sun to dim? I don't know. Again, let's move on.

Once the sun "dims" to a "bluish color," supposedly, it will take 15 days for its surface to return to its normal "Red Giant" temperature (never mind that astronomers classify the sun as a "red dwarf" star, not a "red giant").

During this two-week period the earth will remain in total darkness, we are told, yet, miraculously, the planet will suffer no ill effects apart from a six to eight degree increase [sic] in temperature.

Charles Bolden of NASA is quoted in the article as saying the polar ice caps will not be "majorly" affected by the event, about which "No one should worry much."

<sarcasm> And that, of course, is exactly how NASA officials speak. </sarcasm>

Sources and further reading:

NASA Confirms Earth Will Experience 15 Days of Complete Darkness in November 2015 NewsWatch33 (satire website), 14 July 2015

Six Days of Darkness Hoax - Don't Believe It!
About.com: Urban Legends, 7 December 2014

NASA Predicts Total Blackout in Dec. 2012?
About.com: Urban Legends, 11 December 2012

Last updated 10/24/15