Jupiter's Moon, Europa
New Horizons took this image of the icy moon Europa rising above Jupiter's cloud tops after the spacecraft's closest approach to Jupiter. The spacecraft was 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) from Jupiter and 3 million kilometers (1.8 million miles) from Europa when the picture was taken. Robotic missions to Mars and Jupiter's icy moon Europa should top NASA's to-do list for an upcoming decade of planetary exploration, the U.S. National Research Council recommended on Monday. For the decade 2013-2022, five separate panels of scientists and experts agreed on a suite of missions that would get the greatest scientific return from money spent, recognizing that even these projects could be budget busters. Reuters/NASA/Johns Hopkins Uni

The planetary phenomenon that people on Earth are expected to experience on Jan 4, 2015 is a hoax. The reported Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect, which is said to make people feel weightless for a short time during a planetary alignment, is going viral online, but unfortunately isn’t true at all.

Daily Buzz Live recently posted an article about planetary alignment that would render partial weightlessness on earth. This so-called phenomenon is said to be happening on January 4 when Pluto passes directly behind Jupiter. Apparently, this rare alignment means that their combined gravitational force would exert a stronger tidal pull, temporarily counteracting the Earth’s gravity, and therefore would make everyone feel weightless for a short time.

To make the story look credible, the Web site embedded a tweet purporting to be from NASA’s official account. It also quoted English astronomer Patrick Moore, who died in 2012.

“Moore told scientists that they could experience the phenomenon by jumping in the air at the precise moment the alignment occurred. If they do so, he promised, they would experience a strange floating sensation,” the article reads.

It adds, “But, if you jump in the air at 9:47 AM PST, on January 4, 2015, it should take you about 3 seconds to land back on your feet instead of the usual 0.2 seconds.”

The article has been shared over 1.4 million times on Facebook. Unfortunately, there is no such weightlessness phenomenon caused by planetary alignment.

The Daily Dot has debunked the hoax, explaining that the “dumbest astrophysics hoax” is just that, a hoax, albeit coming from a site that also posts factual news. Unlike other Web sites that are run fake news stories, Daily Buzz Live posts factual articles along with fiction, which makes it difficult for readers to spot which articles are real and which ones are satires.

As for the embedded tweet from NASA, it’s also fake. The tweet, which included the hashtag #beready, was likely done using a tweet maker like LemmeTweetThatForYou.com to make the post look official.

It’s not as if that hoax is new as well. A quick search on Wikipedia reveals the Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect is a hoax that has been around since 1976. Moore, a respected scientist in the field of astronomy, invented the alleged phenomenon for April Fool’s Day on BBC radio.