Here we go again: Fresh reports claim that the end of the world is nigh. Forgetting that we were all a little burned out by the 2012 end-of-Maya-calendar debacle, outlets such as the Daily Express are claiming that the Rapture — the end-time event when Christians are said to ascend to heaven at the second coming of Christ — is coming April 23 and we should get ready for it. In case you were inclined to jump on the Armageddon bandwagon, know this: The reports are bogus, and the celestial bodies aren't even in the predicted position for this supposed doomsday to occur!
According to the Daily Express' claims, the position of the planets on April 23, 2018, echoes language in the Bible from Revelation 12:1-2. The New International Version of that passage (according to BibleGateway.com) says, "A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant, and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth."
The Daily Express's source says this passage refers to the second coming of Jesus Christ and the beginning of the Rapture. Further, they say the passage refers to Virgo, a woman from Greek and Roman mythology. Virgo also is represented in astrology (which is not a science, by the way) and as a constellation. [What's the Draw of Dystopian Sci-Fi?]
"On April 23, the sun and moon will be in Virgo, as will Jupiter, which represents the Messiah," the Daily Express report says. "Experts at first dismissed this claim when they discovered this alignment happens every 12 years. However, the conspiracy theories claim another planetary alignment, representing 'the Lion of the tribe of Judah', will make this time the Rapture."
What planet is responsible for this alignment? It's Nibiru, a mythical world supposedly orbiting the sun in an extremely long, eccentric orbit that has been debunked again and again by NASA — but it somehow keeps popping up in forecasts of doom. In the latest prediction, Nibiru is supposed to pass by Earth this October, causing volcanic eruptions as the gravity of this massive world disturbs our own.
Nibiru has been implicated in all sorts of planetary trouble, going back as far as 1995, when there were nasty predictions that it would collide with Earth. NASA, however, reassured us a few years ago that "No giant, rogue planet has been found in the outer solar system to play the role of Nibiru."
Astronomy popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson also tackled the subject back in 2009, addressing the claim that Nibiru was supposed to disturb our planet during an alignment of Earth, the sun and the center of the galaxy on Dec. 21, 2012. "What the [conspiracy web]site doesn't tell you is that [alignment] happens every year on December 21," Tyson said. "They left that out of the account." In a more charitable moment, he referred to the doomsday prediction as "a marvelous work of fiction."
Some people may argue that "Planet Nine," a hypothetical large world that could be causing disturbances in the Kuiper Belt, is Nibiru. But again, NASA has emphasized that no one knows for sure if Planet Nine exists — and, even if it does, it's disturbing only small, icy objects far away from Earth.
"The existence of this distant world is only theoretical at this point and no direct observation of the object nicknamed have been made," reads a web page about Planet Nine from NASA, which makes no mention of any collision or encounter with Earth. "The mathematical prediction of a planet could explain the unique orbits of some smaller objects in the Kuiper Belt," the agency noted, but that's far from home — way beyond the orbit of Neptune.
And here's the kicker: The sky arrangement is totally wrong. Jupiter is actually in Libra all day and night on April 23, while the moon is between Leo and Cancer. (The sun, out of view when Jupiter and the moon are in the sky, is over by Pisces.) None of those bodies is in Virgo, and again, even if they were, astrology is not real science.
So, we feel safe in saying there will be no apocalypse on April 23. On that cheerful note, since the world isn't ending this month, it's best to file your taxes this weekend as planned.