Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

Posts tagged “astronomy hoaxes

Hoax Alert: Cosmic Rays from Mars Entering Earth

There have been rumors circulating that cosmic rays from Mars are entering Earth tonight so we need to switch off our phones, or put them away from us.

Tonight 12:30 am to 3:30 am cosmo rays entering earth from mars. So switch off your mobile at night. Don’t keep your cell with you & put it away while you are sleeping because they are too much dangerous rays: NASA informs BBC NEWS. Pls spread this news.

The message above is clearly nothing more than just another HOAX. I don’t know why people are circulating panic messages such as this to disturb the lives of other people. From what I have noticed, this message has been circulating since 2008 and it suddenly reappeared today, 6 April 2012. I also received text messages containing this false information and saw similar Facebook posts.

I did my own research and I have found no credible reports that confirm the claims in the warning message. There are no references to such a threat listed on credible scientific websites. I also checked the NASA and BBC news today to see if they have posted something like this. Fortunately, both have never said such a thing and will never probably produce a similar baseless statement.

Despite the claim in the message, there are several reasons to say that this information is untrue.

First, Mars could not emit harmful radiation because it is not a star. Cosmic rays are emitted by stars. i.e bodies that are undergoing nuclear reactions that is fusion (as occurs in our sun) or fission (as occurs in nuclear reactors). Mars is neither. It is a planet that just reflects sunlight. It cannot emit cosmic radiation.

Next, with regards to these rays the earth’s atmosphere is capable of taking care of them so no need to worry. The magnetosphere absorbs and protects us from the sun’s harmful radiation. Whatever remains is too feeble to affect any thing as far as earth.

The Earth’s magnetosphere prevents most of the particles from the Sun, carried in the solar wind, from hitting the Earth. Image credit: milesmathis.com

Another thing is that we are actually hit by cosmic rays every day — all day (and night too). If it was going to hurt your cell, then it would have already fried it by now.

Sometimes magnetic storms on the sun will fry the electronics of satellites in orbit, and may also blow out the power grid in high latitudes near the Earth’s magnetic poles, but other than static, I don’t see what it might do to your cell phones.

So, to anyone who will receive this kind of message, please think it over and help educate others. 🙂 Spreading dubious and unsubstantiated warnings such as this is counterproductive and is unlikely to help anyone.

Learn more about cosmic rays from this NASA website.

Astro Fact vs Astro Fiction

Are you tired of figuring out what’s real or not? Are you fed up with scientific hoaxes on Hollywood’s visions of warp speed and faster-than-light travel? Then,this is your chance to know what’s real and what’s not.

The UP Astronomical Society invites you to its Alternative Classroom Learning Experience (ACLE) for this year:


August 25, 2010 at 1pm, PH 114 Palma Hall, U.P. Diliman

See you there! 😀


image above:  The U.S.S Enterprise NCC-1701 (Star Trek) | Google Images

36 Hours of Darkness on October 17, 2010: A New Hoax?

Just recently, a friend shared an article from Manila Bulletin’s website titled “36 hours of darkness in US likely on October 17”. I read it and had an impression that this could be another nonsense rumor like the Mars Hoax , based on my own knowledge of these things. However, the writer claimed that the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said that this event “may partially hold true“.

Quoting the original article, it says

Online and text rumors claiming that the sun will rise continuously for 36 hours on October 17, 2010 in some parts of the world and leave the United States in darkness for 36 hours may partially hold true, an official of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said on Wednesday.

The report spreading through e-mails and text messages noted that this “coming October 17, 2010, the sun will rise continuously for 36 hours (1.5 days). During this time, the American countries will be dark for 1.5 days. It will convert three days into two big days. It will happen once in 2,400 yrs.”

I did my own research on this topic to know more and I learned that the same article with the same author, Ellalyn de Vera, was also featured in Yahoo News – Philippines and in another local newspaper, Tempo. Other than these, only a few websites had discussions which debunked this topic. Following are some of them:

Will the sun rise for 36 hours on October 17, 2008?

The big day!! Coming October 17, 2008 the sun will rise continuously?

Is coming October 17 the sun will rise continuously for 36 hours?

Wow..Wow..17 Oct’ 2008 the Sun will rise continuously for 36 hours..IS THAT TRUE????

On Oct. 17 the Sun will rise continuously for 36 hours

“The further north you go, the longer the days. This may be true near the arctic circle, but not for the US, other than Alaska. And it certainly does not happen just over two to three days. Arctic days and nights are gradual things, lengthening and shortening over the course of a year. For it to happen just for the day, the Earth would need to slow down its rate of spin. Not possible for a body as massive as the Earth, without destroying itself as the energy from angular momentum changes so abruptly.” (This is one of the best logical explanations I found.)

Most of the websites above clearly said that this “hoax” originated in India and circulated in emails and text messages since 2008.

To further confirm the information contained in the article, I decided to visit the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory in U.P. Diliman to look for Engr. Dario dela Cruz, officer-in-charge of the PAGASA space sciences and astronomy section. Unfortunately, he was not there during that time so I just talked to Sir Mario, the head of the Observatory about the article.

I showed Sir Mario a copy which I printed from the Internet and he told me that it was the first time he had seen the news report.

We spent a few minutes talking. There were several important points raised during our discussion which I will list down here:

(1) Engr. dela Cruz’s statement below is true.

“After we experience the equinox during September, countries located in the Southern Hemisphere begin to observe longer days, as against those in Northern Hemisphere that observe longer nights, which include the northernmost part of the United States.

Starting September 24, there is a gradual decrease in the number of hours of nighttime as we go below the latitude. Countries located above 66.5 degrees are those that only experience a whole day of darkness.”

Equinox and Solstice

(2) However, if the “36 Hours of Darkness” will happen, the possibility of its occurrence will just be limited to the northernmost or southernmost part of the globe like the north of the Arctic Circle or south of the Antarctic Circle. (see diagram below for visualization)

Tilt of the Earth's Axis

(3) Currently, the most number of hours in which the sun would not set (also called the Midnight Sun) or rise is only for 24 hours and it happens mostly north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle, never in any part of America which is located at lower latitudes.

(4) This event, the Midnight sun, is a natural phenomenon and it happens every year, not just every 2,400 yrs as was claimed in the article.

(5) There is still no scientific evidence based on data and computations that the 36 hours of darkness is likely to occur. The basis for the expected date October 17, 2010 wherein it was said to happen was still unknown to them.

(6) If this was to happen, it was only logical that the event should fall near solstices, and not near equinoxes.(September Equinox this year)

So based on Sir Mario’s explanations, the claim in the article about having “36 hours of Darkness” is more likely just a misinterpretation or simply a HOAX.

* * *


Equinox – occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun. The term equinox can also be used in a broader sense, meaning the date when such a passage happens. The name “equinox” is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, the night and day are approximately equally long. This year, equinox falls on March 20 and September 23.

Solstice – either of two times of the year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator. The summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurs about June 21, when the sun is in the zenith at the tropic of Cancer; the winter solstice occurs about December 21, when the sun is over the tropic of Capricorn. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year and the winter solstice is the shortest.


image credit: Google images

Will the sun rise for 36 hours on October 17, 2008?

The big day!! Coming October 17, 2008 the sun will rise continuously?

Is coming October 17 the sun will rise continuously for 36 hours?

Wow..Wow..17 Oct’ 2008 the Sun will rise continuously for 36 hours..IS THAT TRUE???..?

On Oct. 17 the Sun will rise continuously for 36 hours