A fascinating article published on the website io9 hypes the longest, darkest night in 500 years – a function of the winter solstice combining with a lunar eclipse.
The story is making the rounds today. The problem is, it was written in 2010.
CNN is reporting that people saw it popping up in their social media feeds this morning.
“People recently began passing it around online without checking the date, a few media outlets picked it up and, bam, a celestial bit of fakery was born,” CNN says.
“The internet claims it’ll be the darkest night in centuries because it’s the winter solstice, which is the start of winter and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and because there’s going to be a lunar eclipse tonight that will shut off the moon’s light. So solstice + eclipse = longest, darkest night.”
Today is the winter solstice, an astronomical milestone marked by the shortest day and longest night.
But Noah Petro, NASA’s moon expert, told CNN there’s obviously no lunar eclipse tonight.
“These things don’t just pop up; we know when these things will happen,” Petro told CNN.
]Petro continued: “You do not have dark skies anymore because of light pollution. 500 years ago you would have had darker skies everywhere and every night because you wouldn’t have as much light pollution. If you want to see a dark sky, go to Barrow, Alaska. The sun won’t even rise there today because it is above the Arctic Circle.”