Fact Check

Will Tonight Be the Darkest Night in 500 Years?

A 2010 article about the imminent occurrence of the "darkest night in 500 years" and a lunar eclipse circulated as new in 2014 and again in 2016.

Published Dec 20, 2016

The "darkest night in 500 years" will take place on 20 December 2016 due to a lunar eclipse.

On 20 December 2016, Facebook users began sharing a link to an io9 article reporting that "tonight" would be the "darkest night in 500 years":

Thanks to a lunar eclipse on the longest night of the year, tonight we'll be experiencing the longest, darkest night in a very long time. It's been nearly 500 years since the last solstice lunar eclipse ... Over at Sky and Telescope, you can get the real story on what the five possible stages of the eclipse are.

We've frequently observed at snopes.com that rumors about celestial happenings tend to be continually recycled long after they're outdated but still spread far and fast, regardless of their accuracy:

darkest night 500 years

Some news outlets even picked up on the claim and reported it as current in December 2016. As it happens, the io9 article was accurate ... but that was the case back in 2010, not today:


The evening of 20 December 2016 won't be the "darkest night in 500 years," nor will it coincide with a lunar eclipse, as the next occurrence of the latter phenomenon won't take place until February 2017.


Newitz, Annalee.   "Tonight Will Be the Darkest Night of the Past 500 Years."     io9.   20 December 2010.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.