Rare or unique astronomical events have a way of capturing the imagination -- and spawning conspiracy theories. Such is the case with the upcoming "blood moon," the total lunar eclipse to happen April 15, which prompted an “end of days” conspiracy. Likewise the Mars opposition, with Mars lining up with the sun and Earth in the middle, has led to a hoax news article about a planetary alignment leading to “Zero G Day.”
The “Zero G Day” hoax was started by News-hound.org. Based on no scientific evidence, the site claimed a planetary alignment would lead to less gravity on Earth, as Pluto would line up with Jupiter creating a counter gravitational force to Earth’s gravity. The site originally posted the Zero G Day news in January and again for April 4. News-hound.org seems to rotate the article as the site has now set a new date, May 4, for a Zero G Day that will never happen.
In other astronomy-related conspiracy news, the Daily Express has an article entitled “APOCALYPSE NOW: Why a rare astrological event TONIGHT could herald the 'End of Days'.” According to the article, the moon will turn a shade of red during the total lunar eclipse on April 15, hence the name Blood Moon or red moon, and marks the first of four eclipses, known as a tetrad. That’s all scientifically accurate, but the article then links the Blood Moon to a passage from Joel 2:31 in the King James Bible that reads, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD comes.”
Daily Express cites John Hagee, who wrote a book on the Blood Moon that tied the lunar eclipse tetrad to several historical events. In regards to the 2014 tetrad, Hagee said: “Every time this has happened in the last 500 years, it has coincided with tragedy for the Jewish people followed by triumph. And once again, for Israel, the timing of this Tetrad is remarkable.”
According to NASA, the lunar eclipse tetrad consists of eclipses on April 15, Oct. 8, April 4, 2015, and Sept. 28, 2015. Recently, tetrads have become pretty common, with nine tetrads occurring in the 21st century, but the number of tetrads can vary, notes NASA. Fred Espenak, NASA’s eclipse expert, said in a statement, “During the 300-year interval from 1600 to 1900, for instance, there were no tetrads at all.”
As for why the moon will appear red, NASA says the easiest way to understand the phenomenon is to be an observer on the moon looking at the Earth. As the moon passes into Earth’s shadow, the observer is able to view “every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once,” and that light is what leads to a red moon.
The total lunar eclipse will occur on April 15 and will be visible throughout North America.