Could Blood Moon Spell Doom? (And Other Dire Predictions)
The latest end-of-the-world conspiracy theory draws from a long history of doom and gloom.
On Sunday (Sept. 27, 2015) Earth's shadow will begin to dim our moon, which will appear unusually large in the sky.
The supermoon lunar eclipse of 2015 is a confluence of three events: a full moon; a lunar eclipse, and lunar perigee, when the moon is in the closest part of its orbit to Earth. It will be the first time since 1982 that a Supermoon will coincide with a lunar eclipse.
While astronomers are excited about the rare event, others think it's a sign the end is near.
John Hagee, a Christian minister from Texas, is among those who has argued that such rare events surely spell out doom.
"The coming four blood moons points to a world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015," he told CNN.
The September 2015 comet and upcoming supermoon -- appear to be a refreshingly collaborative operation, with theorists adding details as the story goes viral. The basic gist is that some space hazard -- the supermoon eclipse seems to be the emerging choice -- is on a collision course with Earth -- and the government already knows about it.
The deadly comet scenario has a long history in the realm of doomsday predictions. The concept of heavenly bodies falling from the sky and destroying the world goes back thousands of years. In one of the first specific predictions, mathematician Jacob Bernoulli once crunched the numbers and predicted a comet would destroy the planet in 1719.
In recent years, marquee comets like Halley's and Kohoutek have been associated with doomsday events. The notorious Heaven's Gate cult, led by Marshall Applewhite, believed that the Hale-Bopp comet was being trailed by an alien spacecraft that would eliminate life as we know it on Earth.
The blood moon and comet stories also involve what is surely the oldest and most reliable source for doomsday predictions: good, old-fashioned mystical prophecy. According to several of the sources online -- we use the term very lightly -- the entire brouhaha was sparked when self-proclaimed prophet Rev. Efrain Rodriguez made the original prediction after getting a message from God.
In theological circles, the term eschatology refers to speculation on the final events in the history of the world and humankind. Christian eschatology, and particularly the Book of Revelation, has inspired countless doomsday predictions -- and public hysteria incidents -- going back to the days of the Holy Roman Empire.
Most major world religions have some sort of eschatology tradition, and doomsday prophets come in all shapes, sizes and obsessive disorders. Infamous French madman Nostradamus supposedly prophesied the end of the world in 1999, but interpretations of his writings are notoriously dodgy.
Numbers and numerology often play a part in apocalypse predictions, and once again our latest conspiracy theory does not disappoint. Breathless online reports cite a statement made by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius -- on May 13, 2014 -- that the world had "500 days to avoid climate chaos."
Fabius was referring to a planned international climate conference, but selective interpretation is key to these doomsday predictions. In the spirit of piling on, conspiracy theorists broke out their calculators and discovered that the 500-day deadline also landed in our September 2015 danger zone. More tortured calendar work has since been appended, roping in the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and some neighboring astrological events.
Hidden significance in numbers and calendars is a recurring theme in doomsday conspiracies. All of that dire 2012 conjecture a few years back was rooted in number-crunching around the Mayan Long Count calendar. Sometimes, a nice simple round number will do. Historical records show that doomsday hysteria has peaked -- like clockwork -- just before the years 500, 1000, 1500 and of course the year 2000.
Back to the skies: Additional details in the developing doomsday concern the alignment of objects in the heavenly firmament -- yet another tried-and-true apocalyptic tradition. A partial solar eclipse and a "blood moon" lunar eclipse will take place in September, signifying that world-changing events are imminent.
The alignment of planets and moons has been a part of doomsday predictions since the science of astronomy emerged from the divination traditions of astrology. German savant Johannes Stöffler predicted that a particular alignment would cause catastrophic floods and earthquakes on Feb. 20, 1524. A group of London astrologers got on board, causing a panic and an evacuation in the city.
Modern day astrologer and syndicated newspaper columnist Jeane Dixon caused a minor freakout when she predicted a similar catastrophe in 1962. Since the dawning of mass media, the old planetary-alignment chestnut pops up every few years, promising either some kind of harmonic convergence or seismic events ranging from the inconvenient to the cataclysmic.
Not impressed with all the astronomy, numerology and prophecy? How about some technology? Recent additions to the snowballing September 2015 story are resurrecting paranoia about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the underground test facility near Geneva, Switzerland, operated by the European nuclear agency CERN.
The LHC is the facility that, a few years back, sparked worries around an inadvertent planet-swallowing black hole. The LHC is ramping up operations this year after a two-year break for upgrades and maintenance, and conspiracy theorists are dutifully wedging in the new development. This adds a sort of modern science wrinkle -- similar to the Y2K scare -- in which our own technology contributes to our downfall.
Showing admirable initiative, the theorists have even looped the LHC back into with perennial doomsday concerns of prophecy and numerology: "The CERN logo is 666, the sign of the beast in a circle," writes one blogger. "The collider looks like the all seeing eye or stargate we see so much of."
The impending September disaster truly is a full-service doomsday conspiracy theory. It's sort of impressive, really, the effort that's gone into this story. But with doomsday predictions -- as with so many things -- there truly is nothing new under the sun. Unless the sun goes supernova in September.