Circulating meme claims that the moon will appear green on April 20th, 2016 because several planets are going to align. Supposedly, this is an event that only occurs once every 420 years.
The message is just a silly hoax. There will be no green moon on April 20. Nor will there be a green moon on May 29 as claimed in an alternative version of the message.
According to a message that is making its way around the Internet via social media and the blogosphere, come April 20, 2016, we are set for a special celestial treat. The message claims that, because several planets are going to align on that day, Earth’s moon will appear green for about 90 minutes. Supposedly, this ‘Green Moon’ phenomenon is an event that only occurs once every 420 years. The message asks that you ‘share this event’, and it appears that many people have done just that.
But, not surprisingly, the message is just a hoax. The moon will not be turning green on April 20. Nor will it be turning green on May 29th as claimed in an alternative version of the message.
Science and astronomy website EarthSky has dismissed the green moon claims as an urban legend. And, surprise surprise, the green moon is not listed among the 2016 skywatching events on Space.com or on any other reputable astronomy website.
According to urban legends website Snopes.com, the original, May 29, version began life as just joke post on Facebook. But, it soon spread far from its original context and apparently gave birth to the April 20th version as well.
The EarthSky article points out that the date (4/20) and the ‘420 years’ mention is a sly reference to ‘Weed Day’, which is celebrated by pot smokers on April 20 because a long-running ‘code word’ for marijuana is ‘420’.
The ‘planetary alignment’ reference has popped up in other hoaxes as well, including ongoing claims that an ‘extraordinary planetary alignment’ will decrease gravity for a time on a specified date.
It hardly needs to be said that the green shade of the moon in the meme is the result of some digital tomfoolery that used a standard moon image as its source. After all, even if the the claims were true, cameras were more than a little scarce 420 years back.
Last updated: April 6, 2016
First published: April 6, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen