NASA’s solar storm warning triggers another round of 15-days-of-darkness-in-November rumour

By @vitthernandez on
Solar Storm
An undated artist's rendering depicts a solar storm hitting Mars and stripping ions from the planet's upper atmosphere in this NASA handout released November 5, 2015. Scientists have documented a solar storm blasting away Mars’ atmosphere, an important clue in a long-standing mystery of how a planet that was once like Earth turned into a cold, dry desert, research published on Thursday shows. On March 8, NASA’s Mars-orbiting MAVEN spacecraft caught such a storm stripping away the planet’s atmosphere, according to a report published in this week’s issue of the journal Science. Reuters/NASA

Every yearend, doomsday prophets seem to have made it a tradition to spread days of darkness or end-of-the-word rumours during the 11th or 12th month. In 2013, it was the Mayan calendar scandal.

In 2014, the Web site Huzlers claimed that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) allegedly confirmed there would be six days of total darkness in December. In 2015, the warning was earlier, but it was just a repeat of the 2014 hoax, using even the same images.

This time, the hoax perpetrator was, a Web site traced to Lagos, Nigeria, home of many online scams. The hoax story came out in the first week of October, which IBT-Australia debunked.

Barely a month after the hoax came out, another hoax new site, NewsWatch33, published the same warning of 15 days of darkness on Nov 15 to 29. But this time, the Web site cited the huge solar storm that NASA warned.

However, while NASA indeed had a news release on Nov 6, it referred to solar winds stripping the Martian atmosphere and had no reference to Earth. It referred to the finding by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission identifying process as playing a key role in “transition of the Martian climate from an early, warm and wet environment that might have supported surface life to the cold, arid planet Mars is today.”

Among the Web sites that reported on the 15 days of darkness story are The Inquistr, Times of Oman, Montreal Gazette, Free Malaysia Today, Metro and Express. Ironically, Express, while debunking the article, said that because so many people contacted NASA which allegedly was “forced to issue a statement denying the terrifying event.”

It quotes a post from NASA’s Earth Observatory, which also came from the hoax Web site that allegedly states, “Contrary to what you may have read or heard, NASA has in no way issued any statement regarding seven or 14 days of darkness in November due to a solar storm.” A search of both NASA and Earth Observatory Web sites yields negative result of any statement related to warnings about days of darkness in November.

The last time that NASA made any comment about days of darkness was a reply to a question about the Comet Elenin in November 2011. NASA previously said that the comet, first detected on Dec 10, 2010, by Leonid Elenin in a Russian observatory, would pass Earth about 22 million miles on Oct 16, 2011, its closest approach to the planet.

NASA then pointed out, “Often, comets are portrayed as harbingers of gloom and doom in movies and on television, but most pose no threat to Earth.” NASA scientist Don Yeomans stresses that Elenin would not cross the Sun’s face. And even if it could, adds astrobiologist David Morrison, the comet is only 2-3 miles wide, while the sun is 865,000 miles across.

With the last two months of the year, expect more hoax stories that focus on apocalyptic warnings and end-of-the-world forecasts, even if what would only happen is people would change to a new calendar in January to welcome 2016.

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