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 20 December 2016

Claim

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

Been seeing an article from 2010 all over my Dacebook feed today. People are mistakenly claiming a lunar eclipse will occur tonight. The next eclipse is Feb 11, 2017.

Collected via Facebook, December 2016

Rating

Origin

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observed at snopes.com that rumors about celestial happenings tend to be continually recycled long after they’re outdated but still spread far and fast, regardless of their accuracy: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

Tonight_will_be_the_darkest_night_of_the_past_500_years

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.

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