The latest internet rumor has a rogue planet, dubbed either Nibiru or Planet X, striking the Earth on Sept. 23, wiping out mankind. It's not the first time Nibiru has made it appearance in the world of online conspiracies, though it's gained such traction this time that even the U.S. space agency NASA addressed the issue.
"Various people are "predicting" that world will end Sept. 23, 2017 when another planet collides with Earth. The planet in question, Nibiru, doesn't exist, so there will be no collision," NASA said in a statement this week.
The Nibiru /Planet X/Earth collision story first surfaced in 1995 and gets recycled occasionally into various apocalyptic tales, all of which NASA said are just internet hoaxes.
"There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth...astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye. Obviously, it does not exist."
So where does the rogue planet theory come from?
The Telegraph traces its origins back to Wisconsin native Nancy Lieder and her alien-conspiracy website ZetaTalk. Lieder allegedly claimed aliens from the Zeta Reictuli star system warned her about Nibiru and its track towards Earth destruction. The story was posted online, later shared by people such as Christian numerologist David Meade and before you know it, it's everywhere. it gained additional traction when users pointed to end-time prophecy in the Bible.
What's new this time and why is the Bible involved?
The Biblical element of the Sept. 23 end-of-the-world rumors comes from the alignment of the constellation Virgo on that day. On Saturday, the sun will be in Virgo, with the moon near the constellation's feet; Jupiter will be in Virgo, while the planets Venus, Mars and Mercury will be close in the constellation Leo. Conspiracy theorists point to a verse in Revelation 12:1 in their efforts to prove the day will be cosmically significant:
"And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth."
Proponents of the theory said the alignment - which comes a little more than a month after a total solar eclipse in North America - signals the start of the end of days, seven years of tribulation or the rapture of Christian believers.
As EarthSky notes, however, the alignment of the constellation is not that unique in history.
"From the standpoint of astronomy, there's nothing unique or unusual about the sun, moon and planets - or the constellation Virgo - on September 23, 2017, despite claims on the Internet of a unique and significant celestial event, supposedly "mirroring" the Bible's Book of Revelation," astronomer Christopher M. Graney said. "In the past 1,000 years, this same event has happened at least four times already, in 1827, 1483, 1293, and 1056."
The world is ending....again
Apocalyptic predictions aren't anything new. As recently as 2012, NASA had to step in to debunk claims that ancient Maya prophecy predicted the world to end that year.
"The world didn't end on Dec. 21, 2012. You've probably already figured that out for yourself," NASA said at the time. "Despite reports of an ancient Maya prophecy, a mysterious planet on a collision course with Earth, or a reverse in Earth's rotation, we're still here."
Just as we likely will be Sunday.