Was last night the darkest night in 500 years? No, but that claim was accurate—when it occurred in 2010. A lunar eclipse did not in fact cause the “darkest night” on December 20, 2016, however, it is true that the rare event graced the skies six years ago.
According to Snopes, an article published on Gizmodo’s io9 was widely circulated on social media within the past week, seemingly preparing those who wanted to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon Tuesday evening. The only problem? The news was incredibly outdated at this point given its 2010 publication date, however, many news outlets posted the story as though the rare event was once again adorning the night sky current day. The original article said:
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.
December 20, 2016, however, was not the “darkest night” in centuries, nor had a lunar eclipse even occurred. The “darkest night” happened in December 2010 and a lunar eclipse will not appear again until February 2017. The last lunar eclipse was in September 2016. Here is the list of upcoming lunar eclipses, according to Space.com:
- Feb. 11, 2017: Penumbral eclipse. Visible from Americas, Europe, Africa Asia.
- August 7, 2017: Partial eclipse. Visible from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia.
- January 31, 2018: Total eclipse. Visible from Asia, Australia, Pacific Ocean, western North America.
- July 27, 2018: Total eclipse. Visible from South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia.
You’ll have to wait a few more months to see the next lunar eclipse or if this month’s inaccurate news reports got your hopes up, perhaps now’s the perfect time for you to discover a time machine.
Social Media Shares Outdated News on “Darkest Night” In the Past 500 Years
Many shared the news on Twitter, using the “darkest night” phrase as a metaphor for President-elect Donald Trump officially securing 270 electoral votes Monday night.
On the day election results have been confirmed, tonight will be the darkest night of the past 500 years. Literally. https://t.co/E0XFACk1Q0
— Amy Berg (@bergopolis) December 20, 2016
— Adam Mordecai (@advodude) December 20, 2016
— Ryan Adams (@filmystic) December 21, 2016
But I thought Trump's inauguration was in January https://t.co/CEeaMiwJ6n
— Todd 'Papi' Carlos (@TheToddWilliams) December 21, 2016
DOES it look darker outside to y'all? It's supposed to be the darkest night in the last 500 years
— Brittany Mirabilé (@BrittMirabile) December 21, 2016
2016 remains on brand. https://t.co/HSOFONjqjq
— Nina Walia (@missmodular) December 20, 2016
Oh, tonight is an eclipse? On the winter solstice? Resulting in the longest, darkest night in over 500 years? Figures. 2016, everyone.
— Yagathai (@Yagathai) December 20, 2016
No, it’s not the “Darkest Night of the last 500 years” but given how few ppl check the date before sharing a link it’s one of the dimmest.
— J Stayshyn (@UnionSt) December 21, 2016
Did you see the “darkest night” article shared anywhere on social media yesterday? Did you know it was old news? Sound off in the comments section below!
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