Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2001]
The U.S. has asked that everyone step out on their lawns tonight at
A formal request from NASA:
10:30 Eastern, 9:30 Central, 8:30 Mountain, 7:30 Pacific.
NASA has asked that everyone step out on their lawns tonight and light a candle. They will be positioning a satellite to take a picture of the U.S. and posting it on the news tomorrow morning. Please pass this on to as many people as possible.
Origins: A movement to have everyone in the U.S. light a candle on the evening of Friday,
Whether the message quoted above is an embellishment or misunderstanding of that request or simply an out-and-out hoax we don't know, but it isn't genuine. The "U.S." has asked this? What organization is sponsoring this? Where did the request originate? (Surely they're not depending upon forwarded
The whole idea is downright (and obviously) impractical: Unless every city in the country is going to extinguish all of its artificial lighting at just the right time, a satellite photo simply isn't going to pick up candlelight (and even then it's unlikely we could muster enough candles to produce light visible to an orbiting satellite). Go ahead and light a candle tonight, but don't feel you need to say "cheese" — you won't be on a candid satellite camera.
(If you want a really neat nighttime photo, try this one from Space.com or this one from NASA.)
Unfortunately, some people took even a parody of this hoax seriously and forwarded it to us to inquire whether it was legitimate or not: