I got many comments on last week's Nibiru article from some very scared people. They needed a lot of reassuring that it was indeed a hoax and not real, and brought up many topics to discuss such as lens flares, hoaxes, double sun videos, rare sun mirages, and the status of the astronomical search for various versions of planet X. Why are astronomers so sure that Nibiru is nonsense?
So, I thought I'd expand it into a longer article, and a kindle booklet, and add an FAQ. I'll also go into the resolution of the story of the mysteriously missing "professor Kaplan" you might have read about on conspiracy websites.
TL:DR It's not real. :-).
So here we go. If you have already read the last article, you may want to skip a little way down the page to the section "new material".
I first wrote this after a recent particularly silly story about Nibiru, published in the Daily Telegraph: The end of the world now predicted for December say doomsday groups: "Terrifying stuff. Apparently, the planet due to collide with us is often visible, you may have seen it already. If you spot a blob next to the sun when you take a photograph, it could be the deadly planet, not a reflection."
It is not written entirely seriously in tone I think. Still humour is easy for some readers to miss in print, and some people take all of this very seriously.
Hopefully by going into some detail about the astronomy, answering these questions from scared people in some detail - that this can help some of you to learn enough to be able to judge things like this for yourself. Perhaps you can come to see for yourself that it is LOL silly, and no longer need the likes of me to tell you that it is.
Get this as a kindle ebook (127 pages)
First, considered as astronomy, it is too nonsensical to be classified as a theory. There are no astronomers behind it, no academic papers, no nothing. The so called "Nibiru observations" wouldn't pass muster for the very first stage of an unconfirmed sighting.
There is no information there you could use to prepare an alert to send out to other astronomers to get them to look out for it. If you come to it with an astronomical background, there is nothing there at all except a lot of chattering people, smokes and mirrors, and people quoting texts from various ancient scriptures - apparently under the impression that this an accurate way to predict motions of planets in astrophysics.
And the things they say show a total lack of understanding of the most basic ideas in astronomy. It is not even "not even wrong". For an astronomer, it is too nonsensical to even understand what it would mean for it to be right or wrong. Just a "bullshit planet" as Brian Cox colourfully put it.
Brian Cox who colourfully called Nibiru "the imaginary bullshit planet"
Neil deGrasse Tyson who called it "A marvelous work of fiction" by people who flunked physics at high school.
Here is Brian Cox's tweet about Nibiru.
If anyone else asks me about "Nibiru" the imaginary bullshit planet I will slap them around their irrational heads with Newton's Principia" - tweet by Brian Cox
Professional astronomers are totally fed up with people asking them about what he calls "this imaginary bullshit planet" :).
Here is Neil deGrasse Tyson - this is about the earlier scare in 2012 because this isn't by any means the first time this pesky planet has tried to buzz the Earth according to those who believe in it.
I think it is sad that so many people are so upset about something like this. When there are many real things that are worth worrying about. Such as climate change, extinction of species, and indeed for that matter asteroid impacts, by the very real asteroids. Most of these are very small, we are far more likely to predict a 100 meter or smaller one - but that's still large enough to be very bad news for a country. The difference is we know what these are and can do something about them.
So, I'll also talk a little about the very real asteroid threats that we should be concerned about, and the amazing progress that astronomers have made already detecting them, and what they could do with enough funding.
Amateur astronomers can spot Pluto, with a ten inch telescope. That's not a particularly big one.
This telescope is large enough to spot Pluto, at a distance of 7.5 billion kilometers. That's nearly forty times the distance from Earth to the sun. Pluto's is smaller than our moon, diameter only 2,372 km. How to Scope Out Pluto in the Night Sky Friday
There may be undiscovered large planets in our solar system, maybe as large as Mars, even Earth. But to remain hidden, even from a ten inch amateur scope, they would have to be many times the distance to Pluto away, in the very distant Oort cloud - where it's thought there's a vast population of icy bodies of many sizes stretching much of the way to the nearest stars.
Asteroids are detected nowadays by medium sized professional telescope, with by far the most capable currently, Pan-STARRS. Here is a photo with some people beside it to show the scale.
Here it is with one of its images photoshopped into the sky
It takes two 1.4 gigapixel images every minute, all night, every night, looking for asteroids. It is optimized for this hunt, with a high sensitivity very wide field, and with a Schmidt Cassegrain construction which means that the images are crisp and clear, without any distortion, right to the edges of its field of view.
And - it is not operated by NASA. It is true that it is under the auspices of the Hawaii university, and that Hawaii became the fiftieth state of the USA in 1959. But it is managed by the PS1 Science Consortium consisting of ten institutions from four countries.
So if you think there is a conspiracy hiding Nibiru - then all of those institutions would have to be in on it.
But not only that, also all amateur astronomers world wide with telescopes of ten inches or more would have to be in on it also. It's just totally silly and absurd.
Pan-STARRS is doing a great job of finding asteroids. We have already found ALL THE ASTEROIDS OF TEN KILOMETERS IN DIAMETER OR LARGER right out to Jupiter. So not even a New York sized asteroid could be hiding there, never mind a planet. Also, we've found 90% of the next size down, the one kilometer asteroids, and Pan-STARRS finds a new one of those on average, every month. They expect to reach 99% coverage of Near Earth Object (NEO) one kilometer asteroids by the 2020s.
Nowadays amateurs don't have a chance of finding a new asteroid, and they have given up trying. Never mind spotting a new planet or star by photographing the sun :). Instead they do the follow up observations, where they are very much needed. With thousands of asteroids to follow, the professional telescopes can't keep up.
With the ten kilometers search already complete out to Jupiter, that only leaves comets, and Jupiter orbit crossing asteroids, which makes it an estimated perhaps less than one in ten million chance that we get hit by one of those in the next century. I.e. 99.99999% certain that we don't get hit by anything as big as ten kilometers in the next century. Many blockbuster movie goers would guess it is perhaps a 50% chance, I'd imagine :).
Also if one of those big ones was headed our way, as big as the asteroid that ended the dinosaur era, we'd have at least some years of warning before it got close to Earth, because it would have to be out beyond Jupiter to still be hidden from view and Jupiter's "year" is six Earth years.
Now the asteroid threat is significant. But with all the largest ones found and most of the next size down going to be found in the next decade, the ones we need to worry about now are the smaller ones. A 100 meter asteroid hitting Earth in the wrong place could be very bad news indeed for an entire small country. Here is Brian May, astrophysicist, and also guitarist and founding member of Queen talking about the effect of a 100 meter asteroid if it hit London.
All this doom saying Nibiru and other similar Armageddon nonsense is distracting people from a real threat, which we can actually do something about what's more. We can predict, evacuate if necessary - but if we discover them a couple of decades in advance, we can deflect them also, relatively easily. So detection is the priority at present.
Astronomers know how to detect them also; that's not the problem. The issue is funding.
Our super sensitive Earth based optical telescopes can't look in the direction of the sun - as they can't operate in daylight. So, if a small meteorite approaches Earth pretty much directly from the direction of the sun, we can't see it until it hits, or a little before, as it enters the atmosphere.
That's why nobody spotted the Russian Chelyabinsk meteor. If it had come from any other direction, they'd have had at least quite a few hours of warning, maybe as much as a day or two. But it came almost directly from the direction of the sun.
We can fix this with a space telescope. The B612 foundation has one designed, which they could launch by 2019 if they had the funding. It would find nearly every NEO of 20 meters diameter upwards quickly, within six and a half years. That means nearly all the significant threats as smaller asteroids than that break up in the atmosphere as shooting stars and bright fireballs.
It would orbit close to Venus, looking outwards towards Earth's orbit, in the infrared, which makes it very easy to spot tiny asteroids, and also those hard to detect asteroids that spend most of their time in our daytime sky between Venus and Earth.
And the total cost is $450 million Asteroid Hunt: Private Groups Join Search for Dangerous Space Rocks. Governments often sign off checks far larger than that.
But they are struggling to raise enough funding, as they get no government funding at all, just partnership support from NASA and rely on private donations. They got less than a tenth of what they needed from donations.
NASA was never going to fund it, just provide support. But it has dropped this support now because of the funding gap. NASA drops partnership with private asteroid hunt.
NASA might possibly fund the less capable and lower cost Near-Earth Object Camera which, as the plans go, will be positioned at the L1 position between Earth and sun instead of an orbit close to Venus. This will help with asteroids of 140 meters diameter or larger. It is competing with other non asteroid related projects, so I wouldn't pin our hopes on it quite yet. And though certainly a major step forward, it won't find the more numerous, and still very dangerous, 100 meter diameter or smaller asteroids.
Sentinel is still continuing as a project without NASA support. By comparison to this $450 million figure for Sentinel, the NASA budget for the ISS in 2015 was three billion dollars. And that's every year while the B612 project is a one off cost spread over several years.
And a new destroyer costs getting on for $2 billion Arleigh Burke-class destroyer
And the totally useless (in my view) nuclear weapon carrying Trident submarines, will cost the UK government £167 billion (about $252 billion) .
(That £100 billion includes future operating costs, see Reality Check: How much would Trident replacement cost? - the government estimate is currently £31 billion or about $47 billion when you leave those out, with £10 billion, or $15 billion contingency). This is a weapon which can only ever be used to kill millions of innocent civilians.
For that, we could fund Sentinel 300 times over, and still have some change (or 96 times over ignoring operating costs). We could not only build Sentinel but also fund missions to deflect the asteroids it finds headed for Earth with that figure, and probably also detect the ten kilometer asteroids right out to Pluto or some such, goodness knows what you could do with that much funding for asteroid detection and deflection.
Even the contingency figure for Trident could pay for 30 Sentinel missions.
I'm not sure we have our priorities right here.
The price is also low enough so that a private investor, if some multi-billionaire took an interest in the project, could fund the whole thing. Or for that matter, the likes of a public spirited company like Google (which has shown interest in space with its Lunar X prizes etc).
But anyway to summarize: Nibiru is just silly.
For more on asteroid detection see Is it true that an asteroid will strike earth on [Insert Date Here]?
I've also written up some of these posts as a kindle book:
Giant Asteroid Is Headed Your Way? - How We Can Detect and Deflect Them (Amazon kindle) which is also available to read online for free at Giant Asteroid Headed Your Way? - How We Can Detect And Deflect Them
That was as far as I got with my original post about Nibiru (updated a bit here), but many people still needed a lot of reassuring and they had many questions about it.
So let's look more closely at some of these questions. I'll start with the hoaxes and fakes, and then go onto the more genuine "observations"
I haven't used their original questions as stated - you can read them in the comment thread to the previous article. Rather, this is in the form of an FAQ, loosely based on the actual questions people have already asked, with a few extra questions added to help with the flow.
If you are well versed in astronomy, some of these questions may seem a bit obvious or repetitive, but bear in mind I'm doing this for readers who have no astronomical background. And hopefully there are lots of fun details to make it interesting to others as well.,
WHY DO SO MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE THIS IF IT ISN'T TRUE?
It's a hoax or a misunderstanding. Often lots of people do believe hoaxes. One of the most famous is the Spaghetti harvest April Fool in 1957.
Back then we didn't have the internet and many people believed this hoax, especially as it was narrated by a very respected presenter in the UK, Richard Dimbleby, as respected in the UK as, say, David Attenborough is today. Also spaghetti wasn't nearly as common or as easy to get hold of in Britain as it is today, and back in the 1950s many people in Britain simply weren't aware that spaghetti is made from pasta. It was so convincing, some people phoned in asking where they could buy spaghetti bushes to grow this exotic delicacy in greenhouses, and eat it fresh themselves, as in the video. For more on it see 1957: BBC fools the nation.
So, it wouldn't be surprising at all if some at least of the "Nibiru videos" are fake, or enhanced, because with modern technology such fakery is very easy to do. There are many internet hoaxers out there, who do this sort of thing either for fun, or to advertise a product or a movie, or just for the ad revenue on the video. They may get a significant income from ads if they can make a video that gets shown to millions of people.
This is an example of a well known recent internet hoax which fooled a lot of people.
The person in the video has never even flown in a wingsuit, as he later admitted.
This is about how it was faked
And the whole thing was done just for the product placement in the shower scene part of the way through.
HOAX IMAGES AND VIDEOS OF NIBIRU DONE AS A PRANK
With all this nonsense about Nibiru, some people have done what they intended to be harmless pranks, just to have their videos and images propagated all over the internet as real.
Dramatic Chipmunk :)
PROFESSOR KAPLAN - ABDUCTED UNDER MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES WHILE OBSERVING NIBIRU
If you read the conspiracy stories about Nibiru, you've probably heard of the mysterious kidnapped and murdered Professor Kaplan, and the chip with a recording of his observations of Nibiru which was found by someone and uploaded to YouTube.
Here "Professor Kaplan" talks about why he did this hoax video originally as a silly prank for his pals, and his attempts to get it taken down - which only fueled more conspiracy theories about the video.
As he says, he isn't actually a professor, he's an astrophysics student doing a doctorate and has to wait for fifteen minutes for long exposures at his observatory. He did it as a joke during one of those long waits twiddling his thumbs with nothing to do. So he wasn't wasting precious observatory time or his own time when he did it. It looks very authentic because it is not a set, it is recorded at an actual observatory. But he didn't do it for YouTube or for public viewing.
He left two clues that it is a joke in the video including an email allegedly from someone else shown as addressed from "Me" to "Me" in a close up shot, and a quiet chuckle at the end of the video as he gets "abducted". Plus of course him being still alive and giving a skype interview after the joke "abduction" at the end shows it is a joke :)
This is an early hoax image from 2003, very rudimentary. The tiny white dot is supposed to be Nibiru.
The author of it - or at least someone claiming to be the author - posted to forums soon after saying it was a hoax. But many didn't believe him and it is still available online as an alleged photo of Nibiru.
I'm not sure which of the more recent photos and videos are fake, but surely some of them must be. Or digitally enhanced to make it look more like a second sun or planet.
ARTIST'S IMPRESSION USED AS A PHOTOGRAPH.
This rather dramatic image has gone the rounds a bit and been posted as a photograph of a double sunset in China. There was indeed a double sunset in China as we'll see, but this is not it. It's actually an artist's impression from NASA of a double sunset over an alien planet.
DEBUNKING SOME POPULAR ARTICLES AND VIDEOS
In the comments to my last article I was asked to debunk a popular article and a video, about Nibiru. Obviously I can't debunk them all, that would take for ever and make this article unbearably long. But perhaps a couple of debunks will help.
Do bear in mind, that I'm sure if I were, say, to write an article about football or rugby, I'd make at least as many mistakes as these authors do, when writing about astronomy. It would probably be a silly article indeed, full of misunderstandings - I'm just not very into those sports and haven't got a grasp of the rules of the game and don't know the names of he teams or players. So it's like that the other way around, when these people talk about astronomy.
DEBUNKING "Planet X - Nibiru Discovered Orbiting A Brown Dwarf Star 2015- Binary Solar System"
This video is about Tyche. Notice that the news casts are all a bit old fashioned in style? Tyche was proposed in 1999 to explain certain patterns in the orbits of comets - but was proved not to exist in 2014 using results from an ultrasensitive infrared telescope called WISE.
Artist's impression of the NASA Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. Researchers proved that Nemesis and Tyche can't exist in results published in 2014, using data that it collected in 2010 to 2011.
It was an all sky survey and has ruled out the possibility of a Saturn sized object out to 10,000 times the Earth - Sun distance, and a Jupiter size or larger object out to 26,000 times that distance. (I.e. 26,000 AU.)
In this video, they seem to confuse this with Nemesis - a hypothesized second star which could have lead to excess comets every 26 million years or so if it existed. The hypothesized Tyche was actually given a new name in order to try to avoid exactly this confusion, since it would be incapable of causing these comet "storms".
"Such an object would be incapable of creating comet “storms”. To help mitigate popular confusion with the Nemesis model (Whitmire and Jackson ( 1984), Davis et al. ( 1984)) we use the name recently suggested by Kirkpatrick and Wright (2010), Tyche, (the good sister of Nemesis) for the putative companion."
Persistent Evidence of a Jovian Mass Solar Companion in the Oort Cloud, page 4 (introduction)
Anyway, for Nemesis, the idea was an excess of comets, not now, but millions of years in the past and future. The last extinction in their list is eleven million years ago, so the next one would be about fifteen million years into the future if they were right. See Periodicity of extinctions in the geologic past.
There have been many searches for Nemesis which have never turned up anything. It was finally conclusively proved not to exist by that same WISE survey that disproved Tyche. This survey turned up new brown dwarf stars many light years from Earth, and as a result of this ultra sensitive search, it doesn't seem that our sun can have a companion star or brown dwarf at all, though until around 2014 or so you could still suppose that it did.
There was no way that there could be a new red dwarf star 15 au from the sun as they say in the video, even before this search. That's closer than both Uranus and Neptune (19.2 and 30.1 au respectively).
And you do see red dwarfs through an ordinary telescope. They are indeed fainter than most stars. None are easily visible to the naked eye, but that is because they are so far away. The brightest red dwarf is Lacaille 8760 which is magnitude 6.67. I don't know if anyone has done it - but at that brightness it might just be visible to a keen eyed observer from a very dark site. The closest red dwarf is Proxima Centauri. which is also the closest star known to Earth. It is visible through small telescopes.
But that's just because they are so very far away. Red dwarf stars are just stars, at fairly hot temperature what's more of a few thousand degrees - 3,800 K for instance for Lacaille 8760. Hotter than a potter's kiln. They are brighter than our sun if you orbit close enough to them, and since they are the most common type of star in our galaxy as well, they are one of the key targets in the search for habitable worlds. See Planets Orbiting Red Dwarfs May Stay Wet Enough for Life. And Habitability of Red Dwarf Systems.
He was probably thinking about brown dwarfs. Those are on the borderline between planets like Jupiter and red dwarfs. They don't shine by their own light like a star but are large enough to have a tiny bit of nuclear fusion at some point at least in the early stages of their formation.
They are not at all invisible, but when they are far away from any other star, then they don't emit any light themselves so are black in visible light. They are however warm-ish (-100 °C or so, not what we'd call warm, but far warmer than than the background night sky). That's because they still retain the heat of formation and early fusion. So, even a brown dwarf in total darkness, far from any sun, is bright in infrared and they search for them with infrared telescopes.
Bring a brown dwarf close to a star and it will shine by reflected light in the same way Jupiter does, depending on its albedo. Some may be very dark in the visible wavelengths, but they'd still be easy enough to see by reflected light. For instance the Moon is actually as dark as asphalt but looks bright because we see it illuminated by full sunlight against a dark night sky.
All brown dwarfs are about the same size as Jupiter, incidentally, however heavy they are - a remarkable property. As they get heavier they also collapse in on themselves a bit so don't get much larger.
Anyway WISE has already ruled those out also. It can detect them out to around 10 light years away, and did indeed find brown dwarfs, but none close to our sun. Incidentally it has now been re-activated as NEOWISE and is searching for Near Earth Objects, where it is especially useful for finding dark ones that are harder to spot from the ground but just as visible in infrared as the bright ones.
The name Planet X was not invented by NASA, as they say in the video. Instead, it goes back to Percival Lowell in 1905 and the phrase is used nowadays as a general term to describe a planet you are searching for which you haven't yet proved exists. So if an astronomer, or NASA talks about a Planet X, then that is a short hand to say that they don't know if it exists yet. The very fact that they called it Planet X means they didn't have evidence yet that it existed.
That's all in the first five minutes of the video. I am only an eighth of the way through it and if I debunk everything he says this will surely take very long. I haven't yet come across a single correct statement in it I think. Well about astronomy anyway :).
DEBUNKING "THE SCIENTIFIC CASE FOR NIBIRU"
This is an article I was asked to debunk this time rather than a video. It is here: Is life as we know it going to end? The scientific case for Nibiru/Planet X that will not go away
There are loads of elementary mistakes in astronomy on that page. And biology too.
INTERBREEDING WITH HUMANS
What's the chance that some independently evolved species of aliens living on an extrasolar planet could interbreed with humans? This is a common theme of science fiction movies but it makes no scientific sense. Just a fun movie trope.
Do you know of any other species on the Earth that can interbreed with humans? Would you expect a lemur from Madagascar to interbreed with a Koala bear from Australia and have viable children? Or an Orang Utan from Indonesia to interbreed with a mountain Gorilla from Africa?
Why would creatures evolved around another planet, which probably don't even have DNA as we do, be able to interbreed with us?
It is a very common movie trope, which is probably where they got the idea. See Half-Human Hybrid Movie Trope. As soon as you see something like this, you think "this is someone who gets their ideas of science from the movies".
ANOMALIES IN NEPTUNE'S ORBIT
Picking out a few more points from this page. Yes the search for Pluto was indeed done by looking at perturbations of Neptune's orbit. And yes scientists for a long time wondered if there are more planets out there to explain these perturbations, as Pluto is not big enough. This speculation ended in 1993 when E Myles Standish used data from Voyager 2's 1989 flyby of Neptune to revise its mass. With this new revised mass, then the discrepancies disappeared.
Nowadays all our spacecraft are able to navigate through the solar system very precisely using models which only need to include the known planets, with no need for a hypothesis of a planet X. And our asteroid predictions and everything work just fine without it.
So this is no longer an anomaly, and no longer thought to be evidence for planet X. So what they say there is 23 years out of date.
There is still interest in the idea of a planet X. Nowadays the main evidence is
- Many dwarf planets similar in size to Pluto are now known. And one of them, Eris (originally called Xena), is nearly as big as Pluto, and 27% more massive, though further away.
So - when you have a large population of small objects like this way out there in the solar system, it seems likely that there are some larger objects as well. That's just because the search is incomplete, and there are no physical reasons for a fixed upper bound on their size. So statistically you'd expect to have some even larger not yet discovered objects further away so harder to spot.
I think most would expect to find some at least larger than Pluto - as it is very unlikely we have already found the largest of them all as they get much harder to spot the further you go from the sun. The main question is just, how large do they get?
- The Kuiper cliff. There's a sudden drop in numbers of dwarf planets when you'd expect the numbers to increase. That lead to various ideas but one suggestion is that this could be due to the effect of a larger planet X further out. It might be a similar phenomenon to Saturn's rings, where many of the rings have sharp edges due to "shepherd moonlets" just outside of the rings that keep them in place.
But if this planet does exist, and creates this "cliff", the idea is that it orbits permanently well beyond Pluto as a "shepherd planet" - so far away it's hard to detect. It's nothing like the ideas of Nibiru as it would never come into the inner solar system.
MANY STARS ARE BINARY SYSTEMS
Going back to the page I'm debunking - yes many stars are binary systems. Perhaps as many as 80%. But with 80% of stars binary, that still leaves 20% not binary. And many binary stars would be very difficult places for an Earth like habitable planet to form. Systems with a star orbiting another with a highly elliptical orbit like the ideas for Nemesis would be amongst the most unstable, with very few stable planets. It's much less likely that a planet like Earth would form in such a system.
Add Nibiru - or even more so, Nibiru orbiting Nemesis - to our system and make it swing through the inner solar system every 3,600 years and our planets would not remain stable for long. We just wouldn't be here.
DEBRIS FROM THE ASTEROID BELT - MORE AT SOME TIMES THAN OTHERS
Then, yes we do get lots of debris from the asteroid belt pass close by to Earth. But that's nothing new. The only new thing is we've got better at detecting it.
Yes they are right that some astronomers do think that sometimes there is more than at other times. But that's over periods of many thousands, or millions of years. It could happen for instance after a close flyby of another star - passing us way out beyond Pluto. This happens from time to time though there is no such star near us right now. For instance, Sholtz's star passed at a distance of around 52,000 au, or about 1300 times the distance to Pluto, around 70,000 years ago. Sometimes stars pass rather closer than that, and may send comets towards the inner solar system.
Or it could be that some large comet or small dwarf planet, comes into the inner solar system just through interactions with other comets and planets. That's likely to happen from time to time. If this happens, it's not at all likely to hit Earth or any of the other tiny terrestrial planets,. But Jupiter is a big target and it could get disrupted by Jupiter, break into lots of pieces, and could lead to more comets than usual in the vicinity of Earth and hitting it.
APPROACH OVER THOUSANDS OF YEARS
All of that is true, except - that an approaching star, even a brown dwarf, would approach us slowly for many thousands of years. We'd spot it in our telescopes and predict it many millennia in advance.
Indeed we already have predictions like that. We know of an orange dwarf star HIP 85605 due to pass somewhere between 200 and 1,000 times the distance to Pluto, at some time between 240,000 years to 470,000 years in the future. If this prediction is correct, then it will indeed disrupt comets in the Oort cloud and send rather more than usual towards the inner solar system, some time between a quarter and half a million years from now.
It's the same also for the idea of a large object coming into the inner solar system and interacting with Jupiter, breaking up, and sending more comets towards Earth. This is something that would gradually unfold over thousands and tens of thousands of years. Not just in a month or a decade.
At present there are no stars due to approach Earth that close in the near future.
SEARCHES FOR NEMESIS - WHAT THEY LEFT OUT
Yes again it is true that there have been many searches for Nemesis - a hypothetical red dwarf or brown dwarf in the outer solar system. What they leave out there is that
- None of these searches have turned up anything, as we've already seen.
They link to a story written before the WISE search started but don't mention the conclusions of the search. This is very selective reporting - or else, perhaps quite likely given the rest of the article, they just don't know about what happened next.
- The original Nemesis searches were motivated by the idea of a star that sends more comets to hit Earth over a 26 million year cycle. There is no way that it could have a 3,600 year orbit.
SO WHAT ABOUT ALL THE "OBSERVATIONS"?
Let's start with this video.
Whatever this is, it can't be a planet, or a second sun, as, to travel so quickly across the sky, it would need to travel faster than light (light takes eight minutes to get from the sun to Earth) and also it needs to be seen in different places in the solar system depending on where you are on Earth.
With photos of wildlife, if you spot a rare animal or bird in Peru, say, the only way to check it is for someone else to go out to Peru to look for it.
But here, sunrise and sunset of course happens at different times in different parts of the world. How could a planet be visible next to the sun in China, say, at the rising or setting sun, and yet not be visible in the US, say, at the same time.
So, if it's not a star or planet, what is it that all these people video, and photograph?
Many of those who say they've seen Nibiru for themselves have probably taken photographs. By "seeing it" they mean they've seen it in a photograph they took, say on their smart phone etc. Perhaps they pointed it at the sun and then looked at the screen to see the sun.
That is by far the best way to do it as it is dangerous to stare at the sun (it can damage your eyes). If you do that, you often see lens flares like this
Here is a video showing a lens flare - and an easy way to check to see if that's what you have - just block the sun with your finger. If it is a lens flare, the "second sun" will disappear at that point.
Images like these all look like lens flares:
So many of these may be lens flares or other effects that happen inside of the optics of the camera itself.
The other main suggestion (apart from hoaxes) is that some of the photos show rare sun mirage effects, due to refraction of light, like the mirages you get in deserts, or the appearance of wetness on a dry road.
There are probably many more people right now looking for Nibiru than there are scientists doing research into atmospheric phenomena, so it's not too surprising if they turn up some phenomena that are not yet well studied by scientists.
Any year if thousands of people were to look out for strange lights near the sun, they'd probably turn up just as many videos like this as they did this year, and in 2012. But usually nobody does this.
This is one of the more interesting recent "Nibiru" video observations.
So, what can it be? She zooms right into it, and it just magnifies in place like a real object. And it is very bright for a lens flare. If anyone expert here knows if internal reflections etc in a camera optics can behave like this, do say in the comments.
Sun mirages are usually above or below the sun like this, rarely at an angle:
Or you get sun dogs - they are always at the same altitude as the sun.
But rarely you get apparitions of the sun in other positions. They are very rare. But there are many people out photographing what they think is Nibiru.
So - well this is just a guess for her video, it would need experts to look at it - but perhaps it is this rare and not very well studied or understood atmospheric phenomenon , causing a mirage of the sun at an angle from it.
Could it be a Fata Morgana?
Well this is a normal Fata Morgana:
And a more dramatic one:
- the author of the video explains that the giant apple is a prop they were using that day for a commercial. (See also the Daily Mirror article on mirages which features this video and explains how the fata morgana works - though a tabloid they often have pretty good science articles for some reason).
The images are sometimes inverted also as in this Fata Morgana on Lake Superior.
This was circulated as a similar mirage:
So it must be a hoax of some sort that somehow was able to fool the Chinese media and then spread virally. See Mick West's detailed discussion of it. The Fata Morgana is always close to the horizon.
He also looks at the possibility of cities that seem to float because they are on mountains etc hidden by clouds, but that also doesn't seem to be possible in this case, the buildings would be impossibly high and any mountain too high and close to the camera to be believable.
This is an earlier double sun image - from China again.
“The double sun image is an effect of optical refraction, but it’s a pretty darn rare one, and one not fully explained by science… I doubt it’s been computer modeled. There must have been some blob of atmosphere somewhere that caused this truly spectacular phenomenon, which in a sense is a mirage,”quote from Jim Kaler, University of Illinois astronomer.
Perhaps this could be a sun mirage?
It turns out, similar things have been seen before.
"Double and multiple images of the sun and the moon
"Earlier editions of this book mentioned observations of multiple crescents of the moon that were remarkably clear and undisturbed. See Fig 62.
The distance between these was so great that I did not dare to think of a mirage, but rather of a distortion in the eye of the observer. But I was wrong! Nature continually proves to be richer in possibilities than we imagine. A similar phenomenon was seen: beside and above the sun appeared no fewer than seven images of the sun, clear and undistorted. And this time they were photographed, clearly and unambiguously. The sun was about 2 degrees above the horizon at sea and the phenomenon lasted about three minutes. The images were bluish while the real sun was bright orange.
"Furthermore so many other instances have been reported that there is no longer any doubt about:
"(c) multiple suns shifted randomly with respect to each other...
Page 60, Light and Color in the Outdoors, by Marcel Minnaert, 1995
But whatever it was she saw, it was local to where she was, as nothing turned up in the SOHO images of the sun. And these extra suns in these examples are much closer to the original than in her video. At most they are a sun diameter or so away, from the example photos.
Turns out though, there's a rather simpler explanation.
EXPLANATION OF MELISSA HUFFMAN'S VIDEO BY MICK WEST
Mick West has looked at her video carefully, recently, and come up with an explanation.
First, he stabilized her video, as you can see here:
If you look at it carefully you can see that her sun sized "planet" is actually moving slightly relative to the clouds. Not nearly as much as the obvious lens flare, but in the same direction. So it can't be a sun mirage but has to be something much closer to the camera.
He then showed that you can get the same effect by putting a sheet of glass in front of a camera at an angle. So it would be easy to hoax a video like this.
This doesn't mean her video is a hoax - it could easily be that it's a result of misthreading a filter on the camera.
If you engage the threads incorrectly, at an angle, then the glass of the filter will be at an angle to the lens, and then you'll get this effect. He shows that with a cross thread on his own camera which causes a similar double sun, complete with photo of the effect.
Cross threaded filter - easy to do when you put it on in a hurry - causes a similar double sun effect. Photo by Mick West
Just as with her video, when you zoom in on the image, it expands. And is sharp and clear like hers.
It is easy to check something like this if it happens to you. You can do the same test as for lens flare, put your finger in front of the sun and it will disappear. Also if you rotate the camera then it will move. It only stays in the same place in the sky if you keep the camera reasonably vertical all the time.
He goes into details here: Explained: Two "Suns" Sanibel Causeway, Florida [Offset Lens Reflection]
If you spot something interesting and rule out these effects - put your finger in front of the sun and it is still there - then I'm sure it would help atmospheric scientists / astronomers figure out what it is if they take more images showing how it forms, and how it disappears.
After all - if you do spot something like this - later in the day or on other days presumably it wasn't there - so what happened in between? Did it just fade away - or what happened? And how long did this phenomenon last?
CHECKING FOR YOURSELF WITH A LIVE VIEW OF THE SUN FROM SPACE
You can keep an eye on the sun 24/7 yourself if you like. Just visit the SOHO site, here, and you can watch a large area around the sun.
LASCO image, SOHO. View extends outwards to about 32 solar (or lunar) radii so that's about 8 degrees of the sky, total field of view about 16 degrees. By comparison the moon spans about half a degree in the sky.
The sun itself is blocked out, because direct light from the sun would damage the instrument. Where you see that white circle, that's the outline of the sun.
True the center area around the disk is blocked out, but as you watch comets pass it by you'll soon realize that an incoming object never stays close to the sun for long before it heads out again. And that works in reverse also - an object that comes out from near the sun - unless it formed there (e.g. giant solar flare) must have come in first.
It's actually not just a tool for professionals. There is so much data streaming in from our satellites in space, that professionals can't keep up with it all. With SOHO especially, amateur astronomers play an important role. For instance in 2005, Toni Scarmato, a high school teacher from San Costantino di Briatico, Calabria, Italy, discovered SOHO's 999th and 1000th comet
As you can see - it looks constantly at a huge area of the sky around the sun. There are no unknown planets there, or unknown second suns.
Right now, as of writing this, you may spot a bright white dot to the right with a line through it in this image. I think this is Mercury because it is close to the sun right now and heading towards superior conjunction on 17th November - when it passes the other side of the sun, and fully illuminated. See The Planets this month.
The horizontal white line through it is a diffraction spike - an artifact in the optics because it is so bright.
This is their example image to show what planets look like.
The other main thing you can see are cosmic rays. These just flash across the image for a single frame.
For details, see What the images are showing (and what NOT to report)
You can watch an animation of it here, from the real time gif movie page. It shows you the last 48 hours worth of data as an animated gif. If you watch it just now (I'm writing this on 6th November), you'll see Venus very slowly edging into the image from the right hand side.
Often you see comets. Though they seem bright in the SOHO images, that's because the sun is blocked out, after all you can see the stars behind the sun as well. Usually they are far to faint to be visible in the daytime sky to naked eye. These are the "sun grazers", and are rather common.
Sometimes they look like bright stars like the one in this video . You may miss it at first - it starts off quite faint coming in from about the one o'clock position then brightens as it passes the sun, as they often do, then exits just above the nine o'clock position.
And sometimes you see big comets pass by - this is Comet Hyakukte in 1996
The nucleus of a comet is icy and small, just a few kilometers in diameter, 4.8 km in the case of this one. Yet they develop big tails of thin gas and dust, because the sun vaporizes part of their surface. With their huge tails they can become far larger than the sun at times. Their tails are harmless to us, the nucleus would have to do a direct hit on Earth - and most are not even in the plane of Earth's orbit.
Sometimes the comets are almost invisible on their approach to the sun and most noticeable on the way out - but that's because they are so very tiny. Without their clouds of dust and gas, you wouldn't see them at all at that distance.
So, whatever it was in that video, it can't possibly be a second sun physically in the sky, as that would make it hundreds of thousands of kilometers in diameter (the sun is around 1.4 million kilometers in diameter). How could it be invisible to everyone else including our best solar telescope in space, which looks at a large area around the sun 24/7.
This image from wikipedia by lmspascal shows Jupiter and the other planets compared to the sun, so you can see how big it would have to be, to be a second sun.
And if it was a planet rather than a sun, then to be visible like that by reflected light, it needs to be behind the sun, otherwise it would show a thin crescent phase, as Venus does when it is in between us and the sun
Phases of Venus, Statis Kalyvas - VT-2004 programme
With its angular diameter roughly the same as the sun, that makes it if anything, larger than the sun. Or if it was even further away, even larger. That's not credible.
So whatever it is, we need some more local explanation.
If anyone spots something like this again, then as well as just blocking out the sun with your finger to show that it is not a lens flare, I'm sure it would help atmospheric scientists / astronomers figure out what it is if they take more images showing how it forms, and how it disappears. After all - later in the day or on other days presumably it wasn't there - so what happened in between? Did it just fade away - or what happened? And how long did this phenomenon last?
Assuming this is a real video, not faked, and I have no reason to suppose it is a hoax - then this Nibiru thing is at least getting people interested in solar phenomena and with so many eyes looking at the sun that wouldn't normally, it's turning up some interesting solar phenomena.
SAFETY WARNING FOR SUN OBSERVATION
If anyone tries to watch the sun as a result of reading this - please follow basic sun safety.
Your eyes are easily damaged. Many people including some astronomers have had their eyes permanently damaged as a result of looking at the sun - especially through telescopes.
We have no way to sense the effect of the solar radiation on our retina, and the central part of your retina can be damaged beyond recovery, and you won't feel anything. And you don't lose your vision immediately. This happens gradually over the next day or two. And then it sometimes recovers in some people but often it doesn't.
It's the UV light more than the infra red apparently, and it can go through clouds too. So even when it is quite dim it may not be safe to stare at the sun. And light reflected off water or mirrors can also damage your eyes.
Use eclipse glasses. Or photograph it or film it. Or use indirect projection.
There are also filters you can put on telescopes - but you need to get the right ones, put them at the objective end, not the eyepiece end, and discard them if there is a single hole develops in them.
Sir Isaac Newton damaged his eyes by deliberately looking at the sun to create an afterimage. This eventually recovered after some months. But when there's a solar eclipse, then you often get eye injuries.
And if you were to look at the sun through a telescope or binoculars, even for a second or two, this could happen.
It is safe to watch the sun even through telescopes at totality (though not at all during partial phases). Indeed you won't be able to see the corona unless you remove the sun filter from the objective end of your telescope. But you need to keep an eye on the time and replace the filter or look away before the diamond ring effect.
Also of course many people look at the sun during a sunrise or sunset without any damage to their eyes. That's because it is low and the light passing through much of the Earth's atmosphere and often behind clouds. Even so, it's probably best never to stare at the sun for a long period of time even at sunrise and sunset, and certainly you shouldn't look at the sun through a telescope at any time, except during a total eclipse.
TRY PHOTOGRAPHING THE SUN YOURSELF - OR CHECK THE PHOTOS TAKEN BY OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS
If this Nibiru did exist and was easy to spot as a bright light next to the sun, you should be able to photograph it yourself. So try that out. But be sure to test for lens flares by putting your finger in between the sun and the camera and see if your "Nibiru" vanishes - and in between your "Nibiru" and the lens to see if it appears in front of your finger.
You can also check the photos taken by other photographers. Try searching Flickr for the photos taken in the last year. I suggest Flickr instead of Google because the google images might be old ones re-uploaded for use in new articles. But the Flickr ones are usually genuinely photos taken in the last year.
Here is the result of a search of Flickr for images of the sun released as suitable for commercial use, taken in the last year
I think the main difference is that these are usually photographs taken by people with decent quality cameras - most photographers probably wouldn't upload a photograph from a mobile phone onto Flickr unless it is something very special - and they use lens hoods and so on to minimize lens flare.
WHY IS THERE NO HARD PROOF THAT NIBIRU IS NOT REAL?
Well it's the other way around. There is no hard proof that Nibiru exists. You can't disprove something that is not described in detail, and with a story that keeps changing. There is nothing there that astronomers can get their teeth into to examine to see if there is something real.
If they had decent observations - if anyone could say where to look in the sky - say where it is relative to the Sun and how far from it, they could look. A planet stays in the same place in the sky for weeks on end, so unless it was so close it is between the Moon and the Earth, it would be in the same place relative to the sun every time anyone looked at it. Amateurs would see it easily with a solar scope or filters, etc.
But sometimes they see it, sometimes they don't. Sometimes it is as large as the sun, sometimes a tiny white dot not much larger than Jupiter. Someone else says they saw six giant planets or suns in a hexagonal pattern around the sun. There's no consistency at all.
WHAT ARE ASTRONOMERS DOING ABOUT THESE NIBIRU OBSERVATIONS?
Astronomers keep an eye on the sky all the time anyway, taking many photographs of the entire sky to high resolution every night, and photographs of the sun in daytime. They have found many thousands of asteroids to track. Amateur astronomers follow up observations to track all the objects found.
They don't need to do special searches for Nibiru, because there is just no way at all that they could miss a planet larger than the Earth, thousands of kilometers in diameter.
We'd see something like that, way way out far beyond Pluto in an amateur astronomer's ten inch telescope. World wide. Never mind a second solar system with a planet orbiting another star.
If anyone had an observation of such a thing that pasts muster as a report to the International Astronomy Union, then amateur astronomers world wide would be tracking it and reporting where it is every clear night, or throughout the day also if visible near to the sun.
And as it got closer, by now it would be a bright star that everyone has been gradually following through the night sky, as it approaches the sun. It would be like the news stories about comets but more so.
It would be a very spectacular astronomical phenomenon that nobody could possibly miss and everybody would know about it and all the amateur astronomers world wide would be talking about it.
Indeed, with any plausible orbit for something like that, they would have been tracking it since well before I was born, indeed well before anyone now alive was born. Most likely since the invention of the telescope at least.
HOW WOULD YOU REPORT A NEW PLANET OR SECOND SUN IN OUR SOLAR SYSTEM?
There aren't any instructions for reporting a new major planet or second sun. But suppose you wanted to report existence of a suspected new dwarf planet or asteroid in our solar system, there are instructions for this, as it happens quite often in astronomy nowadays.
What you have to do is to go to the International Astronomy Union website and look at their page "How to report a discovery".
For planets they say
1. HAVE YOU FOUND SOMETHING AND IS IT NEW?
Please check the following to verify that you have made a discovery:
- Is it an image artifact? Can you confirm that what you have seen is real and not an instrumental artifact? "Ghost images" caused by nearby bright objects can be deceptive. Have you confirmed your observation on a second night and obtained multiple CCD or photographic exposures?
- What type of object is it?
- Motion: How much does the object move?
- Definitely detectable movement — it could be a comet or minor planet.
- other possibilities
As we saw before, there's a very simple test you can do to spot the "lens flare Nibirus" which would probably filter out many of the so called "observations" on the internet (warning, strong language if you are sensitive to colourful use of swear words).
They also haven't confirmed their observation on a second day - since it's close to the sun then obviously you'd do it in daytime rather than at night, but is the same.
They don't even confirm that it is in the same place relative to the sun earlier in the day or later in the day. And the ones that show Nibiru as moving around in the sky visibly during the video would be dismissed immediately as something local that couldn't possibly be a planet - a planet that did that would be moving faster than the speed of light.
So you'd have to check all that first. Then after doing that, you are directed to
3. WHERE TO REPORT YOUR OBJECT
- Minor planets/asteroids:
The details for minor planets are here
It's quite technical. But basically what you need is the exact time you did the observation and your best possible estimate of where it is in the sky.
But if you did spot a new planet or sun close to our sun, well I'm sure you would just need to have your photographs of it, which you could take all through the day as long as the sun is visible in the sky. A few photos taken every half hour during the day, say, plus testing for lens flares. A genuine planet wouldn't move noticeably in that time.
WOULD HAVE THOUSANDS OF REPORTS ANYWAY
But a new planet bright enough to be visible in the daytime would have thousands of reports from amateurs all around the world and would be headline news, and you'd get instructions on the news about how to observe it safely etc etc.
This has happened in the past, not with planets, but with bright daytime comets. Including a comet in 1965 that was so bright you could see it in daylight just by blocking out the sun with your hands.
Comet Ikeya–Seki which was easily visible in the daytime sky close to the sun in 1965. I can't find daytime photos, so this is a photo of it in the night sky. Back then in 1965 many astronomical observations were done by drawing the objects, and cameras were much less commonly used in astronomy than they are today.
But here is a painting of what it looked like in daylight. See also List of the nine most brilliant great comets.
It's also possible to see the brightest planets in the daytime sky in the same way - by blocking out the sun.
On a clear day, with a clear blue sky, if the conditions are very good, and when Venus is at its brightest and furthest from the sun, you can see it rather easily with your naked eye.The main challenge is to find it, easiest if the moon is close to Venus as a guide. Here are instructions for last June when the Moon was close to Venus making it easier to spot.
Be sure not to stare at the sun itself with your unaided eye if you try this.
You can also see Jupiter in the daytime sky, but that's much more of a challenge. Even Mars is possible in optimal conditions. See ten surprising things you can see in the daytime sky. (I've only seen Venus myself).
Actually Venus is probably visible to naked eye right now in daylight, throughout the day, on a clear day - as it is very bright in the early morning sky before dawn. The only problem is it, is far from the sun, and you'd need to know where to look as it is not that brighter than the sky itself. It is a case of a tiny bright white dot against a bright blue background, only the colour is different. You can't mistake it when you see it but you have to look in just the right place. It helps if you have an astronomer friend to tell you where to look.
If this Nibiru was real, whatever it was - then it would be easily visible all day, close to the sun, not just at sunrise and sunset. You'd just block the sun out in the same way with your hands or behind a building and you'd see it.
Same for black holes also. Even a black hole wouldn't be invisible - you'd see it by the heated up disk of matter spiraling into it, of asteroids, gas dust, everything would spiral into it.
This is a simulation of the accretion disk of a black hole - the matter spiraling into it. Looks distorted because of the gravitational lensing effect of the black hole itself.
When you take account of red and blue shifts due to the rapid motion of the matter around the black hole, it would look like this.
Pretty dramatic eh? See The Truth Behind Interstellar's "Scientifically Accurate" Black Hole
I think we might, somehow notice if there was something like this in our interstellar neighbourhood :).
FIRST GUESS WOULD BE COMET
If we did see a bright object close to the sun, then with no gravitational effect disturbing the planets, the assumption would be that it is probably a very bright comet without a tail. And then you'd have a lot of research into how it managed to be circular and not have a tail. Comets can look circular when they first appear but not usually when close to the sun.
So, it's not impossible at all to find new bright objects that pass close to the sun, even ones that are bright enough to be visible in the daytime sky.
That's not why the observations are treated with skepticism.
If there were any decent observations at all, any hint of something that seems like it could possibly be a new bright celestial object in the sky - well - amateur and professional astronomers world wide would be all over it, trying to find out more.
Their first guess wouldn't be "planet" however, it would be "comet".
WAS NIBIRU "OBSERVED" IN PREVIOUS YEARS?
If you search for Nibiru videos and photos online it may seem that all the videos and photos were taken this year. Seems like nobody saw it until this year.
But that's just because of the way search results work. Usually when you search for something you will be interested in the latest news about it, at least for topics like this. Google learns from the way people search, and the algorithms will serve up the results that people are most interested in. Which for Nibiru means the most recent results.
So all the videos and photos for earlier years sink way down in the search results. But they are easy to find if you do a search filtered by year.
- YouTube "sightings" of Nibiru up to 2013. The search terms are Nibiru + sun.
- YouTube search listing up to 2010 with some videos from 2008 and 2009. That seems to be when this idea of videoing the sun to look for Nibiru first began. On YouTube anyway - same search for 2007 or earlier turns up no double sun videos as far as I can see.
- the first fake photos of Nibiru next to the sun go back as far as 2003
Early fake alleged photo of Nibiru from 2003. Apparently someone admitted to faking it to expose the Nibiru hoaxers.
As you see, there are few "nibiru observation" videos early on, the earliest I found so far was in 2008.
But that's probably because video cameras have got much better. Back in 2003, very few people would be able to do a video of the sun, although nowadays it is so commonplace you might be surprised to realise that it was so hard just twelve years ago.
Even today, not so many people have dedicated video cameras and even fewer carry them around with them wherever they go. But most now have a mobile phone or a camera capable of taking videos with them, and can just whip it out and video anything wherever they are.
WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO SCARE PEOPLE LIKE THIS IF IT IS NOT REAL? WOULD EVERYONE PLEASE STOP SCARING US
I don't think this is going to stop unfortunately. Based on past history, perhaps it's a reasonable guess that people will probably forget Nibiru for a few years. Scares in 2003, 2008, 2012, 2015 now - seems that it's every three to five years. Takes about three years to forget it enough so that a new scare can come along.
But it's about the fifth or sixth "Armageddon" so far this year. And more general Armageddon scares have been doing the rounds, every few years, and recently often many dates per year, for over 2000 years. So they don't seem likely to stop.
These things once started tend to come around and around.
As an example, every year since 2002 the same hoax has gone around the internet saying that Mars will appear in the sky as large as the Moon on August 27th. It is based on a misunderstanding someone made of a sentence in an astronomical email message back in 2002. Which actually said that Mars, magnified 75 times would look as large as the Moon looks to the naked eye.
It doesn't seem likely that this hoax - or misunderstanding or whatever you call it - will stop. See the Mars Hoax.
I think it is a case that if enough people repeat something enough times, they come to believe it, share it, and get others to believe it. And hardly anyone checks up to see if these hoaxes are true or not before sharing. So they go viral and circulate around over and over again.
And the thing is that few people - except the enthusiasts know much about astronomy or have had any education in it. Even if you did physics at school, you might not have covered astronomy in great depth.
And many things in astronomy go against the intuitions we have from life on a terrestrial planet. See for instance my Why A Ball Thrown To Earth From Orbit "Boomerangs". Can Astronauts Hit Earth With A Ball, Arrow Or Bullet?
So it is just a matter of what you know. Similarly, I could easily be hoaxed by a fake story about football :).
BUT WHAT IF IT IS REAL ANYWAY?
If it was real, then Earth wouldn't be orbiting the Sun in a steady orbit as it is. It would have been flung away from the solar system, hit Jupiter or the sun, hit Venus or Mars, billions of years ago - since the Nibiru people say it's been doing these quick pass bys of the inner solar system every few thousand years.
Simulations show that our planets are packed together about as closely as they can be in a stable solar system. Add another planet as large as Earth doing flybys of the inner solar system close to Earth, and something would have to give.
Also many of our spacecraft that we send to Mars or to Pluto or whatever wouldn't end up in the places we expect them to go because they would be deflected away by its gravity.
If it's a second sun, sunlight would be twice as bright as it usually is and we'd all be suffering from heat waves.
Also if it was real, and you think that these photos and videos are observations of "Nibiru" then it means that planets can suddenly jump around in our solar system at speeds faster than the speed of light, so if Nibiru can do that, Earth can too.
So when you wake up the next day you'd never know whether you'd find yourself orbiting here, or way out beyond Pluto in the Oort cloud, or careening past the sun or whatever.
You'd get lots of absurd consequences if it was real.
WOULD WE BE ABLE TO FEEL ITS GRAVITY?
A planet the other side of the sun would have no measurable gravity effects - we don't get tides from Venus. A second sun would create tides, as the sun creates the difference between the neap and spring tides - the spring tides would be more extreme, or we might have multiple spring tides every month
We wouldn't feel the effects here of a planet the other side of the sun, but it would push and pull our spacecraft out of their carefully planned trajectories when they go to other planets in a way that would be very noticeable - they just wouldn't get to where we wanted them to go.
And even more so - we monitor the movements of thousands of tiny asteroids in the asteroid belt.
This shows motions of some of the "Near Earth Objects" in the solar system.
And this is a video of the known asteroids and comets as they were discovered - highlighted white as they are discovered and added to the map. (Better viewed full screen so you can see the faint dots of the asteroids after they are added).
The colour coding here is red for Earth orbit crossers - and yellow for Earth orbit approachers - all the rest are green. See also the map here. Close up view of the ones near to Earth at present here.
If a big object was to pass through the asteroid belt or anywhere near it, we'd spot it immediately even if it was totally invisible, through the movements of the asteroids that would get pulled off course as it passed through this vast cloud.
Not only do we know where all the planets are in the solar system, of size of Earth and much smaller, way beyond Pluto. We can even track all the objects of diameter 10 kilometers or more all the way out to Jupiter.
If we can map out every asteroid down to sizes smaller than New York, do you think we can miss a planet the size of the Earth?
WHAT ABOUT EFFECTS OF ITS GRAVITY ON EARTH WEATHER?
Well as there are no unknown planets in our solar system, there's nothing to affect our weather. But anyway this idea that a distant planet could make a difference to our weather is based on a misunderstanding about how gravity works.
Gravity tugs at the whole Earth so can't tug at the atmosphere and pull it away from a planet. It would tug at the planet as well by the same amount. So gravity can only affect our weather via tidal effects.
The way tides work is that gravity tugs just a bit more strongly at the near side of the planet and a bit less strongly at the far side, and the middle of the planet it tugs by an in-between amount. This tends to "stretch out" the planet into an oval shape.
Water is able to move a bit more quickly than the planet itself which is the basic reason we have tides - the seas are just a tiny bit more oval than the planet. We also have tides in the atmosphere, analogous to the tides in the sea, and the Moon's gravitational effect is involved in those along with other causes. We have Earth tides also, but they are minute.
However, the amount of tidal effect drops off very quickly, faster than gravity, by an inverse cube law. If you double the distance of the Moon, the amount of the tidal effect is divided by 8. Make it ten times the distance and the tidal effect is a thousandth. The sun has tidal effects on the Earth even though it is a huge distance away because it is immensely heavy. It makes the difference between spring and neap tides (spring tides are far higher because the sun and Moon pull the Earth into an oval shape in the same direction).
Here is an animation of the spring and neap tides
- the spring tides happen when the solar and lunar bulges are in the same position.
The situation is a bit more complicated than that because of the effect of coastlines etc - some places have only one tide a day and the tide is often six hours out of sync. with the Moon - but that's the basic engine behind it. For more on it see my answer to Why are tides caused by the Moon rather than the Sun?
Jupiter though has no noticeable tidal effects, because of this very rapid fall away of the amount of the tides. A distant planet, even if it is heavier than Jupiter, would have no tidal effects on Earth that you could measure. While it would tug at the orbits of all the planets in a very noticeable way.
A "second sun" as heavy as a star would have tidal effects. But given that they could find Neptune using just the nineteenth century observations - and now we are tracking numerous asteroids and spacecraft and measuring distances with astonishing sensitivity - it's just impossible that there is a major unaccounted for source of gravity in our solar system. Except way out beyond Pluto - many times the distance to Pluto. But there is no way that even a star, never mind a planet way beyond Pluto could raise noticeable tides here on Earth.
So this is total nonsense.
There are of course many things that affect our weather. Global warming surely. News story today - that the UK met office has predicted that 2015 is going to be the first year to be one degree C warmer than the historical climate figures before CO2 emissions by industry and cars.
Weather is also very variable depending on season, and things like the El Nino, etc etc. The climate has many cycles and effects on different timescales which is one of the reasons why global warming doesn't mean that the whole Earth just steadily warms up by the same amount each year. And also lots of local variation. Our recent warm and wet winters in the UK are probably caused by global warming, is connected to increased evaporation of the sea in the Indian ocean - and the same weather pattern that leads to that effect also creates very cold dry conditions in the States so the cold winters you've been having are thought to be due to global warming, very probably. So the whole world is connected like that and some of the effects would seem surprising results of global warming if you don't have the whole picture.
Just about all scientists now accept that the warming is caused by the CO2 emissions from human activities which is why we now have these world wide conferences and summits to reduce CO2 emissions. I know there are still a few, especially in the States who are climate skeptics. Typically around 97% of published papers on climate change that present any position on the subject endorse the consensus that humans cause global warming. That's up to 2013. Probably a higher percentage now.
WHAT IF IT IS HIDDEN BEHIND THE SUN?
Yes it is possible for a planet or a star to hide behind the sun briefly.
But unless its year is exactly the same as Earth's year, then at some point it will no longer be behind the sun. For instance if its year is 300 days, then by a year later it is 65 days behind it's original position behind the sun. And it would keep moving to different positions. Like Venus.
By Kepler's laws then the length of the year depends only on the longest diameter of its elliptical orbit. So to have the same year as Earth, it's orbit has to have the same longest diameter.
And - it's possible to be hidden behind the sun for a short while from the point of view of Earth. But we have spacecraft all over the solar system, that occasionally take photographs of the sun. They never see any unknown planets or stars in the photos.
Here for instance is a photograph of the night sky with sun just below the horizon, from the surface of Mars. You can see Earth, Mars' moon Deimos, and Mercury. These photographs never show Nibiru.
It's just not at all possible that a planet has been hiding the other side of the sun for thousands of years, and then suddenly comes around to our side and comes towards the Earth.
DEMENTED GAZELLES, LEOPARDS AND SQUIRRELS
Planets follow Kepler's laws and they simply can't run around the solar system like a demented gazelle :). Or hide behind the sun and then suddenly jump out at us like a leopard. That's just fantasy. As Neil De Grasse Tyson said, it's a fun work of fiction. It might do quite well as a children's story. Also movie plot scenario are sometimes as silly as this too.
As we go through the year we see the sun from all directions. It's a bit like a squirrel hiding behind a tree. If you keep circling the tree, the only way the squirrel can keep hidden is to circle around it at the same speed you do.
That's all very well for a squirrel, it can monitor what I'm doing and move at just the right speed in response to me to stay hidden.
But a planet has no independent power of movement, it just moves in response to gravity. It can't monitor what the Earth is doing and stay hidden.
The only way it could hide behind the sun for any length of time is if its "year" is exactly the same as ours. But it is easy to show that that is an unstable solution so that can't happen for a planet in a stable orbit.
So to get behind the sun, first it has to be somewhere else first. You can go back through the SOHO images and check that no big star or planet has ever passed behind the sun. Lots of comets have. But they always follow steady orbits and come out again quickly as we saw with SOHO.
WHAT IF IT IS REALLY CLOSE TO THE SUN?
All the planets, even Mercury, are sometimes visible to the eye in the night sky, though Mercury is so close to the sun that you can't see it against a really black dark sky, always early evening after sunset or in the early morning before sunrise. You also need an unobstructed view as it's never very far above the horizon either. Still it is easy enough to see in good conditions with a clear horizon.
There was an idea once for a planet closer to the sun than Mercury called Vulcan in the nineteenth century. Mercury's orbit didn't quite fit Newton's theory exactly, and so the mathematicians of the time, especially Le Verrier - one of the astronomers whose calculations were used to find Neptune thought there must be another planet still to be found.
He worked out where it should be - just as he did for Neptune, and he worked out that it must be between Mercury and the sun, and smaller than Mercury. So close to the sun, it would be very hot, like this
Vulcan - Le Verrier's hypothesized planet between Mercury and the sun and smaller than Mercury - would have been a hot object something like this artist’s impression of exoplanet Kepler 10b (Image credit: NASA)
Something as close as that to the sun would never be visible in the night sky because it never gets far enough away. So instead, they tried to see it cross in front of the sun, as a dark spot - a transit.
It would also orbit the sun many times each Earth year - it's "year" would be shorter than Mercury's "year" of 88 days.
But nobody ever found it. There were several observers of the sun who reported dark spots that they thought could be it - but none of them panned out.
Later on Einstein proved that Mercury's orbit can be explained using General Relativity - which leads to almost the same predictions as Newton's theory but with small changes for objects like Mercury orbiting very close to a very massive body like the sun.
So - that then meant that Vulcan wasn't needed any more and indeed couldn't exist, not something that big. So by studying Mercury's orbit now we know about General Relativity - we know that there is nothing orbiting between Mercury and the sun of any size.
That still leaves the possibility of really tiny asteroids, the vulcanoids as they are called. There may be a few rocks there between Mercury and the sun. But SOHO which looks at the sun 24/7 hasn't seen anything. That means that there aren't any vulcanoids larger than about 60 km assuming they are similar in darkness to Mercury.
Other searches with NASA's two STEREO spacecraft suggests there are probably no vulcanoids larger than 5.7 km in diameter, and no more than 76 of them larger than 1 km in diameter.
Orbit of NASA's two STEREO spacecraft which photograph the sun to give a stereo view of it so that we can see the direction solar eruptions are moving. One orbits the sun faster than Earth and one slower. Observations from Stereo show that there are no objects in between Mercury and the sun larger than six kilometers in diameter - assuming similar surface properties to Mercury. Possibly a bit larger than 6 km if they were very dark.
Here are a few more techy details about the vulcanoids search for anyone interested - I've indented it so is easy to skip:
The region just inside of Mercury is not stable because of Mercury's gravitational influence. But there is a dynamically stable zone from 0.07 AU to 0.21 AU - about 15 - 45 solar radii. Mercury's orbit is at 0.387 AU. That's where they look for them.
The inside edge is set by the position where they would evaporate from the heat from the sun - varies depending on constitution. Obviously an icy body can't reside there at all, would evaporate very quickly on solar system timescales. Constitution would be rocks and metals like Mercury. But how easily it evaporates depends on what exactly it is made of as different rocks and metals evaporate at different temperatures.
The outer edge of the region is due to Mercury perturbation. It's ability to clear it's orbit only extends in to 0.21 AU. Inward of that, it can't perturb the asteroids into a Mercury crossing orbit. This makes their orbital period 39 days.
They are looking either for primordial vulcanoids or for interlopers that end up there as a result of scattering by the other planets.
Broken up sungrazing comets wouldn't work because they would still be in the same orbit and any relative velocities due to them breaking up wouldn't be enough to insert them into a close orbit around the sun. However, NEOs can end up in vulcanoid orbits. About 0.006% of the population could end up there.
The way they get there is by a close encounter with Mercury which turns their orbit into one with its aphelion inside of Mercury. Then resonances with Mercury and perhaps Venus or Earth reduce its eccentricity.
Once a small NEO gets diverted into an orbit inside of Mercury, then it's lifetime there is fairly short. It would be hit by other asteroids and broken up, or be pushed out through the effects of the heat of the sun leading it to radiate heat inwards, driving it outwards (Yarkovsky drift). But a 100 meter object moved inside of Mercury by this process could survive inside of Mercury for hundreds of millions of years (that's from page 33 of this paper). So with a constant supply of them, there could be objects like that there right now.
So - it's either those - or perhaps larger primordial vulcanoids could be up to a few kilometers in diameter, which could have been there since the early days of the solar system.
Anyway even if these vulcanoids do exist - well they always orbit close to the sun (or we'd see them in the night sky sometimes). So that means they never move as far away from the sun as Mercury, so can't come out to the Earth's orbit.
And one that comes from the outer solar system will whip around the sun smartly and be on its way out again in no time (with a timescale of weeks for its close flyby of the sun).
HOW CAN WE BE SO SURE OF THESE ORBITS?
This is because of our observations of other planets. We know how planets orbit the sun very well. We've been tracing the paths of those bright lights for thousands of years, and they follow predictable patterns.
There's a nice animation of the planets here, which can give a good idea of how they move around following complex patterns in the sky which the ancient astronomers puzzled over.
( You can get this banner animation of the motions of the planets from 2000 to 2015 from David Colarusso's page)
Modern astronomy goes back to Kepler who formulated his three laws.
This is back in the eighteenth century. He compiled many observations of the planets by his mentor Tycho Brahe, a great observational naked eye astronomer. He deduced his three laws.
Kepler's laws diagram from wikipedia.
His first law is that the orbits are all ellipses. Ellipses are constructed using two centers or foci, unlike circles that have just one center. He showed that planets follow elliptical orbits with the sun at one of the foci of each ellipse.
His second law is that the planets trace out equal areas in equal times. So when the planet is closer to the sun, it moves around the sun more quickly.
His third law is that the length of the planet's "year" depends on the longest diameter of the orbit according to a simple mathematical formula (it's "year" squared is proportional to half of its longest diameter cubed).
See Kepler's laws.
That is pretty much how it is still understood today.
So, the main reason astronomers are totally skeptical of Nibiru is that it would have to follow an orbit that doesn't follow Kepler's laws. That's rather like saying it can levitate. That gravity has no effect on it.
WHAT ABOUT A BLACK HOLE OR A BROWN DWARF - DO THEY ALL FOLLOW KEPLER'S LAWS - HOW CAN WE BE SO SURE?
Good question. When Kepler formulated his laws, he had no explanation for them. They were just empirical laws.
The big breakthrough came rather later with Newton, who in his Principia - first he developed the basics of calculus for the first time ever (simultaneously with Leibnitz in France with a somewhat different approach).
Then using this new mathematical tool he is able to derive Kepler's laws from his new law of universal gravitation.
This is the law that as you double the distance between objects, the gravitational attraction between them drops to a quarter - and at three times the distance, the gravitational attraction drops to a ninth and so on. It gets weaker according to the square of the distance.
All our experiments to date have confirmed this law which is indeed universal. And Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, though based on very different premises, predicts the same motions, except for tiny corrections for Mercury.
So it's because they are underpinned by the inverse square law of gravity- that we think there are no exceptions to Kepler's laws. As an approximation that is.
Kepler's laws describe the orbit a planet would have if there was only the planet, the sun, and nothing else in the universe. But the sun is so large that it is usually the dominant effect for any planet or asteroid unless they do close flybys.
The other planets also do tug of course, and these can cause the orbits of asteroids and even planets to change shape - get more elliptical or less elliptical. They can also sometimes change the length of the year. But all this is well understood.
If there were any errors in our understanding of this law, our spacecraft would keep getting lost or crashing.
The laws apply to anything that is mainly influenced by gravity. They don't apply to lightweight charged particles that are influenced by the magnetic fields of planets and stars, such as protons or electrons. There are other exceptions also but those are all well understood. Some people think our understanding of gravity is incomplete - but they are talking about effects noticeable, for instance, when you measure the orbits of stars orbiting a galaxy.
Everyone agrees that this law is very accurate for the solar system.
Black holes are massive objects, so their orbits are the same as for planets.
We have only had this theory for a few hundred years, true. But we can then use it retrospectively to explain earlier observations. And use it to study the evolution of our solar system - and of other stars. If our planets weren't following the inverse square law in the past, to a high degree of precision, they couldn't have the same orbits, so we wouldn't be here.
Also we can observe other stars and other galaxies, and the galaxies also move under attraction to each other. When we observe other galaxies, we are looking back billions of years.
There is indeed an idea that laws of physics can change. But those who think this are talking about a gradual subtle effect. To first approximation at least, they can't have changed for billions of years, or the universe wouldn't look the same as it does. It might be possible for the laws of gravity, or other laws of physics to vary by tiny amounts over long periods of time. Some scientists think this is an interesting enough possibility to study further.
Also there's an idea that in the very early universe, there was no distinction between many of the forces, and they broke apart through "symmetry breaking". In unified field theories, even gravity could have been different in the past. But if so, that was all finished many billions of years ago and gravity hasn't changed since - or has changed only minutely for those who think that minute changes are still possible.
WHAT ABOUT REVELATIONS - DOESN'T THAT MEAN THE WORLD HAS TO END SOON?
We get predictions from Revelations over and over E.g. back in 2012, the world was predicted to end on the 21st May, and big crowd gathered in Times Square. One person there had spent $140,000 on telling people about it - his life savings. And of course nothing happened. The prophet who predicted that immediately said it's going to happen in October instead. Of course nothing happened in October either, we are still here.
I've never known anyone to predict anything astronomical using scriptures. Have you?
While astronomers frequently predict all sorts of things using Newton's laws, Kepler's laws etc. I don't think this is a strong point of the scriptures. They don't seem to be especially good at predicting astronomical events.
If the Bible is so great on astronomy - why does it say nothing about the larger asteroids Ceres and Vesta, or about Uranus or Neptune, or Pluto?
Why is there nothing in the Bible about the rings of Saturn?
Uranus and Neptune, these are about four times the diameter of the Earth. Yet no mention of them at all in the Bible. You can see Uranus with the naked eye sometimes though it is very faint.
Saturn, with three of its moons, Tethys, Dione and Rhea from top to bottom.
Nobody knew these rings existed until Galileo pointed a telescope at the night sky. And he had no idea that they were rings, he was baffled about them. His telescope wasn't very good and he saw these strange shapes to either side of Saturn and couldn't make out what they were.
Galileo's drawings of Saturn - he was first to see Saturn's rings, but he had no idea what they were
Huyguens who drew Saturn through all its phases - as you can see he also had no idea what they were. The Bible was no help to him here.
Nor does it say anything about the moons of Mars or the craters on the Moon - you can't see craters on the Moon with the naked eye though easy to see even with binoculars and Galileo was first to spot these also.
When Galileo turned his telescope to the moon he expected to see a perfectly smooth sphere, the craters were a great surprise to him.
And the Bible doesn't say anything about asteroids either. Back then they thought that meteorites came from volcanoes. Right up to the nineteenth century everybody thought they came from volcanoes or from storms, right up to the late eighteenth century when he German physicist, Ernst Florens Chladni, published "On the Origin of the Iron Masses Found by Pallas and Others Similar to it, and on Some Associated Natural Phenomena", in 1794 with the at the time audacious theory that meteorites came from outer space.
I think we have to conclude that astronomy is not a strong point of the scriptures. No reason why it should be.
They do seem to have value in helping people to find a direction in their life, and hope and happiness. If they are making you scared, then something is going wrong. The original author of Revelations probably wrote the book in order to reassure Christians who were facing persecution in the early days of Christianity.
It might perhaps be reassuring to look at. this list of predictions of the end of the world. Also this list of 242 predictions of the end of the world.
As you can see, people have been predicting Armageddon every century since the first century, and recently, often several times in a year. It must be one of the least successful predictions ever.
Bear in mind, many religions don't have any notion of Armageddon at all. For instance, for many traditions of Buddhists, Shakyamuni Buddha is traditionally thought of as the fourth of a thousand Buddhas, so his teachings have to fade away for thousands of years, then another Buddha arise after a gap, and that has to happen another 996 times before the Earth can be destroyed, in this mythology. In this way of thinking, the world eventually gets destroyed or falls apart, just because nothing is permanent, not because there is any wrathful deity who will destroy it. And then when that happens, new world systems then form again, and so it goes on.
And amongst Christians, then many of them interpret the teachings in the book of Revelations in a variety of ways.
Summarized in "From Adam to Armageddon: A Survey of the Bible", page 178 as
"1. A view that Revelation must be understood in the context of its own time and the events symbolized in its pages as having already taken place.
"2. A view that only a portion of the revelations have occurred and that the work offers clues to the remaining portion of human history.
"3. A view that the book is best understood spiritually, and no attempt should be made to interpret it in the context of history.
"4. A view that the book is prophetic and its prophecies are yet to be completely fulfilled."
The idea of a literal Armageddon is the fourth of those common ways of interpreting the Bible.
Revelations was added to the Bible at quite a late date. It was originally regarded as heretical by some of the early Christians.
It originates as a message of hope to first century Christians who were being persecuted and many of them dying for their faith. As the author of "From Adam to Armageddon" says
"Regardless of whether Revelation holds the secret of the time and place that history as we know it will end, it holds the view that how one lives matters greatly. That alone makes it of value for those who use it as an authority for their lives. Its vision may have been intended primarily to support Christians facing death for their first century faith, but it has served a much broader purpose for continuing Christianity. A book of comfort and devotion, it has called people to faithfulness over the years, while assuring them of the faithfulness of the God it proclaims."
(From Adam to Armageddon: A Survey of the Bible - page 180 )
That's why the view 1, that the events described in Revelations have already taken place is also a reasonable view to take, or the view 3, that it is best understood spiritually. In both cases it has no future predictive power, since it either describes events of the first century AD, or it is meant to be taken spiritually, as a message of hope with no intention of prophecy of actual events in the world. And many Christians do take it in those ways.
I'm sure that whoever wrote the Revelations did not write it in order to scare people living twenty one centuries later. And why on Earth would someone writing in the first century AD want to encode hidden messages for the twenty first century into their work?
For more about this see my answer to Why did God create the world if he was just going to destroy it in Armageddon? on Quora.
According to scientific understanding the Earth will probably eventually become uninhabitable, but not for an almost unimaginably long timescale, long enough for humans to evolve a second time from the tiniest multi-cellular lifeforms. See my End Of All Life On Earth - A Billion Years From Now - Can It Be Avoided - And Who Will Be Here Then?
MANY PLANETS ARE FOUND EVERY YEAR AROUND OTHER STARS AND DWARF PLANETS BEYOND PLUTO - BUT NOBODY EVER FINDS THEM USING SCRIPTURES
As Neil de Grasse Tyson said, these are people who surely must have flunked physics at school, who know nothing about astronomy or physics, who for some reason think they can use the scriptures to predict astronomical events. Nobody would employ them if they applied for a job searching for planets.
There are people who search for planets around other stars, and also distant dwarf planets around our star. And they are very successful at it too. They found numerous extra "dwarf planets" beyond Pluto and many planets around other stars. But they don't use scriptures to find these planets. As far as I know, nobody has ever found a planet using scriptures.
HARMLESS ECCENTRICITY - EXCEPT - IT NEVER STOPS AND IT SCARES MANY PEOPLE
It would just be a harmless eccentricity like the flat Earth society. I have no quarrel with the flat Earth society if people want to believe that. But this belief is making many people scared, to no purpose at all as far as I can see. And it never stops.
This by the way is about the fifth prediction of an end of the world so far this year. It seems to come in clusters, every few years you get lots of predictions, until everyone gets totally fed up with all the failed predictions. Then they seem to forget about it for a year or two, then you get lots of predictions again. At least, I remember a big fuss in 2012, and previously in 2010. Now it's 2015. Maybe three years is long enough for people to forget about the last failed prediction enough for it to have impact again?
Remember none of this would mean anything if you were brought up in another religion, say Hindu, or Shinto, Jains, Ancestor worship, Confucian, Taoist or Buddhist. They don't have this same idea of Armageddon. And as we just saw, many Christians also don't take it literally, and think the events described either have already happened, or are not rooted in time at all.
The main positive message from it is that how one leads one's life matters greatly. Which I think most can agree on in all religions or none. But you don't have to think in terms of the world being destroyed in two months time to get that message.
And being scared can have the opposite effect of thinking that everything you do is futile. If anyone takes Revelations that way, it is surely not what the author had in mind.
SCIENCE POETRY - AND FAIRIES AND LEPRECHAUNS
I'd like to make it clear - in none of this am I saying that science has the answers to everything. Many scientists at least are very aware of the limitations of what they do.
I think the scientific method is great, but our actual science research is so young. What will we discover in the next million years of scientific research? I think there may well be concepts we just haven't got yet, as revolutionary as electromagnetism, radio, lasers etc. Seems no sign the pace of scientific research is slowing down.
And who knows, we might find other things that we wouldn't classify as science quite, that can be discovered and investigated in a similar way. For instance to do with how the mind works. This is an idea explored a fair bit in science fiction, for instance Arthur C. Clarke, in some ways towards the hard end of science fiction, explores the idea that in future, through what we'd still call science, but for us now would seem like magic, we may be able to transform the matter around us and our bodies with our minds. (See the last chapter of his Fountains of Paradise).
It is just that these people who write about Nibiru write using the terms of astronomy. I see it as a kind of "science poetry" where they use terms from science, but only to evoke certain emotional responses, and don't use them as scientists do.
They claim to be doing astronomy. But as astronomy their ideas make no sense at all. They misrepresent the scientific literature.
IMAGINATIVE CREATIVE REWRITING OF ASTRONOMY
The astronomical papers about Nemesis talks about a search for a star in an elliptical orbit that is always orbiting beyond Pluto called Nemesis that diverts comets into the inner solar system every 26 million years - and the last time it happened was 15 million years ago so the next "comet storm" would be 11 million years from now.
This has somehow got converted, without any observational or scientific reason, just through imaginative writing, into a star that orbits the sun every 3600 years, sending comets towards Earth each time, and that comes right into the inner solar system closer than Earth. The advocates for Nemesis quote from the newspaper articles about the search for Nemesis but don't quote the results of that search, some years later, when they completed the search and proved that it can't exist.
They mix this up with the search for Tyche which was given that name because the hypothesis was a planet in a circular orbit that would not have periodic effects on comets at all. Then ignore the results of the search for Tyche which proved it also can't exist.
And mix up red dwarfs with brown dwarfs and claim that brown dwarfs are invisible - a ridiculous idea. Just a misunderstanding of what brown dwarfs are - basically extra large Jupiter planets that have nuclear fusion in their early stages. No more invisible than Jupiter, may be a bit darker is all. The Moon is as dark as worn asphalt, yet, because it is lit up by the sun in our night sky, is bright and easy to see. Similarly even a very dark brown dwarf would be easy to spot if it is as big as Jupiter, so the idea that it is invisible because it is dark in colour is absurd.
And they say things about planets that make no sense at all astronomically, like it hiding behind the sun for years on end then suddenly zooming out and hitting Earth within a month or two.
It's fine as imaginative writing, and "science poetry" and might perhaps be used to create an engrossing movie which some people would find believable if they don't have a lot of astronomical education. But this is not astronomy.
WHY BELIEVE THEM AS AUTHORITIES ON ASTRONOMY?
It is because they claim to be doing astronomy that I write this to debunk their astronomy.
If someone says that fairies exist, or leprechauns say, I wouldn't debunk that. There may be things beyond our scientific understanding at present. Who knows? I keep an open mind on such things.
CENTRAL THING IN SCIENCE - THAT YOU DON'T HAVE TO RELY ON STORIES AND IMAGINATION
One of the central things in science is the idea that there are some things you can discover through empirical methods. We no longer have to rely only on stories by witch doctors and such like, or old wives tales or remedies passed on from our ancestors. Which is not at all to say that those stories or tales or ancient lore are unimportant or should be ignored.
But we have found out that there is also the possibility of finding out truths in this open fashion where anyone can examine the methods used and come to the same conclusion.
If you learn a bit of astronomy yourself, you can find out for yourself, read about how the discoveries are made and so on. You can try observing the planets for yourselves and discover that they do indeed slowly drift through the sky, as astronomers predict, and don't suddenly jump around from one spot to another in minutes. You can check up the predictions for where the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury or Saturn will be in the sky - then look out on the day predicted and see them exactly where the astronomers say they will be.
You can follow eclipses, and they always happen on exactly the day predicted, at the time predicted, exact to minutes and seconds even.
And read the history and learn how they discovered Neptune through small perturbations in the orbit of Uranus and realize for yourself that it would be impossible for a massive planet to come into the inner solar system without perturbing the orbits of numerous asteroids and of the planets.
So then you don't have to trust me or anyone else. You can engage in this open process of scientific discovery yourself, learn about it, and see these things for yourself, that it does work.
SO DOES THAT MEAN THERE IS NOTHING THAT COULD KILL US IN DECEMBER 2015 OR MARCH 2016 (THE TWO MOST RECENT DATES FOR "NIBIRU")?
First of course neither I nor anyone else can say anything about car accidents, medical issues, hurricanes, twisters, volcanoes etc. If you are concerned about your own safety, probably the best thing you can do is to be more careful while driving, avoid drink and drive, avoid talking on your mobile phone while driving, and so on. And eat well, exercise at least a bit, and generally look after your health.
Doing things like that can actually help. While getting more and more anxious about cosmic disaster isn't going to help you in any way at all.
But having said that, of course this question is about Nibiru.
So, certainly this Nibiru can't because it is nonsense. Also we can confidently say, that no other asteroid of any size can hit us by then, down to 10 kilometers in diameter at least. Because those are already all mapped out by the asteroid surveys right out to beyond the outer edge of the asteroid belt, and anything with a longer orbit than that would take much longer than two months to get here.
For smaller ones though, the survey is not yet complete. We know 90% of the nearby one kilometer diameter ones - which leaves 10% yet to find, most of which they expect to find by the 2020s.
A recent one kilometer diameter asteroid, the Halloween asteroid, was discovered only 21 days before its flyby of Earth. This one, you may remember it, came so close we got excellent radio sightings of it from the Aceribo telescope.
This is very rare nowadays, to have a close flyby of such a large asteroid unexpectedly. It was in an unusual orbit and came at us directly from the sun. But that shows that it is still in principle possible for quite a large meteorite - one kilometer across - to hit us with only three weeks of warning. Though - it would be far more likely to do a flyby as this one did, because the Earth is a tiny target compared to vastness of space.
So - nobody at present can give a guarantees about these somewhat smaller meteorites.
And can't say much at all about even smaller meteorites. Especially the 100 meter diameter ones. These could arrive with a lot less than three weeks warning. And we don't have anything like a complete survey of them yet.
And something as small as that wouldn't yet be visible if it was coming from the direction of the sun, had never done a recent flyby of Earth since we started searching for them thoroughly, and was due to hit us in December, or any other time more than a few days away. Something like that could destroy a city and devastate much of a small country.Until we send very sensitive space telescopes into orbit, or continue the survey from Earth for quite a few decades, we can still get surprises by tiny ones like that at any time.
Even those though, the 100 meter asteroids - although far more common than the larger ones, are so rare that there are no accounts of them hitting a populated area through the whole of recorded history.
And of course we can't say about those other things such as car accidents etc :). Or medical conditions or Earth based natural disasters and so on
But definitely - do stop worrying about hidden suns or planets or such like. It's just nonsense.
- We don't expect planet sized ones at all.
- Ones of size a few hundred kilometers diameter - the "Texas sized asteroids" get caught by Jupiter, torn to pieces, or deflected to hit the sun or Jupiter itself. The cratering record of Mars, Moon Mercury, and what there is of craters on Venus show that Jupiter has never dropped its guard for three billion years, since the £late heavy bombardment" in the early solar system which formed the biggest craters on the Moon.
An asteroid like this can come into the inner solar system with warning times of order centuries (similar to the orbital period of Pluto since we'd spot it right out to around Pluto or beyond).
Then if it got broken up by Jupiter (rather than deflected to hit the sun or Jupiter, or out of the solar system), there'd be an increased hazard of the 10 km meteorites for perhaps 20,000 years or so. Anyway - this is extraordinarily unlikely, and it is something that would play out over a very long timescale. By then, it's sure to be centuries into our future, and we can probably do something about it also, deflect even an asteroid or comet this large.
- Ones of size around ten kilometers or a bit more - they can hit the Earth but we have mapped all the ones that can get here quickly, so would have loads of warning, years at least, probably decades. These are extremely unlikely, and you can be 99.99999% certain that it won't happen in the next century.
- Smaller ones of around 100 meters or so are seriously bad news for a city or a small country and could hit us with only weeks or days of warning depending how small they are and how they approach Earth. But even these are so rare they haven't hit a populated area in recorded history.
- Really tiny ones like the Russian meteorite, which could harm or even kill some people, have a reasonable probability of happening again this century.
The Spaceguard meteorite search is now turning its attention to the smaller ones. If you want to use your anxiety constructively, you could raise awareness of these smaller asteroids and the possibility of mapping them all out if we had sufficient funding. Half a billion dollars could fund the B612 space telescope and get most of them mapped out in six and a half years.
Though you can't hope to see Nibiru in the sky, as it isn't real, you can certainly see shooting stars, they are very common. If you are lucky you might see a big bright fireball. At their brightest they can be brighter than the Moon.
Here is a list of the best meteor showers of the year. Some have very narrow windows to see them - the Leonids are best seen after midnight and you need to look for them on the 17th and 18th November, possibly some a day or two before or after. Others are much broader for instance, many days or a month in the case of the Orionids.
The are the debris from a broken up asteroid or comet, and these differences depend on how much the debris has spread out.
They seem to come from different directions in the sky - the Orionids come from the direction of Orion and the Leonids from the direction of Leo etc When the radiant is a long way below the horizon you are much less likely to see them
To summarize what I've been saying here:
- It couldn't be covered up. Any amateur astronomer could check.
- If it was on an orbit that takes it into the inner solar system every 3600 years - that means it takes many centuries to approach the sun each time. It would have been an easy naked eye object for many centuries like the other planets. Brown dwarfs are like planets, heavier and slightly larger versions of Jupiter, would be easy to see. And a black hole would be even easier to see with its accretion disk. And it would change the orbits of the planets in a way that would be easy to detect - after all that's how Neptune was discovered. Indeed, if something heavy passed through the inner solar system like this every 3600 years, the planetary orbits couldn't be stable - so that Earth is here in a nice circular orbit, by itself proves that no such planet could exist.
- The very fact it is called planet X means it hasn't been discovered yet - that was a name coined by Percival Lowell in 1905 for a planet you are searching for which you haven't proved exists. There have been many different hypothesized planet Xs, with different orbits and masses, each in turn ruled out.
- Nemesis is the name of a star that was hypothesized to bring more comets than usual into the inner solar system every 26 million years. Searches showed that it doesn't exist.
- Then Tyche was a new name for "Nemesis's good sister" - no longer hypothesized to bring comets into the inner solar system because it would be in a near circular orbit. It too was shown not to exist.
- Astronomers now think there might be a planet about the size of Mars or Earth orbiting around 50 au or so away from Earth to explain the Kuiper Cliff drop off of numbers of dwarf planets when you'd expect an increase. A bit like Saturn's rings shepherding moons. This is still on the cards as a possible extra planet - but would orbit permanently in a circular orbit again well beyond Pluto, and would never even come closer to Pluto.
- They've mixed these ideas up, reduced the length of the 26 million years of Nemesis to 3600 years, ignored the searches that proved it doesn't exist, turned it into a planet, and changed it from a star that always orbits well beyond Pluto into one that comes into the inner solar system inside of Earth's orbit. And then added absurd details such as that it's orbited by a planet Nibiru inhabited by extra terrestrials that can interbreed with us (as absurd as a koala bear interbreeding with a gorilla).
- Then they also add the absurd idea that it can hide behind the sun, to explain why astronomers haven't found it yet, not realizing that even Mercury is visible in the dawn and dusk sky so anything close enough to not be visible in the night sky has to orbit the sun in much less than 88 days.
- They think it can hide behind the sun for years on end, and then suddenly come out and hit Earth within a month or two. And that it is a heavy object that somehow got behind the sun without disturbing the orbits of any of the other planets or asteroids in any way at all. And that it doesn't disturb the orbit of Mercury either.
- For anyone with even a little astronomical background, this whole thing is all LOL silly.
- It only goes viral because, of course, many people don't have even a little background in astronomy. And no reason why they should!
- If it bothers you, perhaps the best way to deal with it is probably to learn a bit of astronomy. Then you won't need people like me to reassure you, you'll see it as LOL silly yourself. And astronomy is a wonderful relaxing hobby for many people. And if you get into it, you'll almost certainly find an amateur astronomy club somewhere close to you unless you live somewhere very remote. They will help put you straight about planets, and stars and orbits and such like. Or try reading the astronomy magazines
AM I PAID TO WRITE THIS TO COVER UP NIBIRU?
This is something I was asked with the earlier article.
So, I am not paid to write my science blog here at all. Some of the science bloggers get a small income from showing ads on their posts, I don't think it is much, but you will notice that my posts here don't have any - except a few at the bottom. That's because I asked to opt out to remove the ads. I would opt out of the ones at the bottom as well, if I could, but it's not an option. You don't see them if you are signed into an account here.
I'm just a mathematician in the UK, living on one of the Scottish islands, with a long term interest in astronomy, grew up in the 1960s during the Apollo landings. If you look at my other blog posts, many are about space exploration, planetary protection and the search for extra terrestrial life in our solar system (if present) and beyond.
It may be reassuring to hear a bit more about me and who I am. As my "day job" I'm a programmer who writes music software. My most popular program is Bounce Metronome.
Check out the Astonishing Bounce Metronome Pro.
I've written a few blog posts about my software here too, see
- Pure Tones For Healing - Harmonious Lissajous Knots - Pendulum Waves - Sloth Canon Music From Numbers
- Music And Mathematics Of Fractal-Like Sloth Canon Number Sequences
- Rhythms In Maths - Most Out Of Time Perfect Drummers Can Be - Penrose Tiling Rhythm - Cantor's Set Rhythm,...
- Metronomes - Do You Need Them? And A Metronome Using Conducting Techniques For Visual Precision
- and also related to my "day job" though not directly about my software: How Easy Would It Be to Communicate with Musical ETs - as in "Close Encounters Of A Third Kind"?
I've also tried my hand at inventing board games and at maths research, but ended up spending most of my time programming.
Hopefully that's enough, so you get an idea of who I am :).
SO HOW DO YOU KNOW ALL THIS STUFF?
I've been keen on astronomy since the 1960s. Apollo landed on the Moon a month before my 15th birthday. And used to watch Sky at Night so in the early days learnt a lot from Patrick Moore's talks about astronomy on the television.
He was an enthusiastic amateur astronomer who specialized in the Moon. This was before the modern CCD chips back when the human eye could see details in the telescope that weren't visible in photographs. He did careful drawings of the Moon which he then combined together to make the best map of the Moon available at that time. His drawings were used by both the USA and Russia for their Moon missions.
He presented the Sky at Night program once a month, year in, year out, from 24th April 1957 to 7th January 2013 (he died 9th December 2012 but had recorded some material used in the last episode to feature him) in the longest running television show by a single presenter.
Many present day UK astronomers owe their interest and love of the subject to his inspiration.
He was also an eccentric and a much loved figure on television. This is a tribute to him made after he died by some of the many UK astronomers who were inspired by him.
Then as a mathematician then the maths is easy for me, which helps in theoretical astronomy :). Just keep up with the astronomy news. Basically I'm a keen amateur "armchair astronomer" - go out and look at lunar eclipses and the easiest to watch sky events, meteor showers. I enjoy that. But wouldn't call myself an observational amateur astronomer. Mainly I'm into the theoretical side of astronomy + following space exploration missions and the results from our great telescopes etc.
ASSESS IT FOR YOURSELF
But to assess this for yourself, you can try learning some astronomy. Meet up with some amateur astronomers - they will soon put you right Just ordinary folk like yourself who happen to have a strong interest and passion for astronomy as a hobby. Once you have a better understanding of what a planet is, and orbits and other basic ideas in astronomy, you'll see for yourself that it is all nonsense.
Not much by way of astronomical education is needed in this case. The only reason this one spreads so much is that few people have much astronomical background at all. As a result, they are easily fooled by things that wouldn't fool you for a moment if you knew just a little bit more.
That way you won't need to ask people like me. You will just be able to see for yourself that this is all nonsense.
HAVE YOU WRITTEN ANYTHING ELSE ON NIBIRU?
No, only the earlier version of this article. But I have done a few on asteroid impacts, also on apocalypse scenarios.
- Is It True That An Asteroid Will Strike Earth On [Insert Date Here]? - Truth Behind Asteroid Scare Stories
- September 24th, 2015 - Just Another Day In Space - Asteroid Flybys, "Blood Moons" And Armageddon Demystified
- Giant Asteroid Headed Your Way? - How We Can Detect And Deflect Them
And lots of answers on Quora. Here are some which they've categorized as answers for Apocalyptic and Post Apocalyptic Hypothetical Scenarios.
KEEPING UP TO DATE WITH ASTRONOMY NEWS
First you have to watch out for the unreliable sites and joke stories.
JOKE STORIES ABOUT NIBIRU
Here is one from this very website, an April Fool's day story Right Under Our Eyes: Nibiru On Its Way?
It's so obviously a joke that I can't imagine many were fooled by it and took it literally - perhaps some would be fooled momentarily, but not after reading to the end of it :).
The Daily Telegraph one I quoted at the head of this article I am pretty sure was also meant as a joke, or at least quite a bit "tongue in cheek" The end of the world now predicted for December say doomsday groups. But that would be harder to detect for anyone who is genuinely scared about cosmic apocalypse scenarios.
Some entire websites are satirical, just meant as a joke. The Onion is a famous one of those. You are not expected to believe a word of anything posted there.
At first sight it may seem like a genuine news website, but as you read it, you find more and more over the top remarks and then it gradually dawns on you that the whole thing is just a huge joke. I can't find any stories about Nibiru on the Onion - maybe because they don't want to panic people - but it gives an idea of what this "joke news" genre is like and some of the motivation for these jokey stories that aren't meant to be taken seriously at all. It's mainly pure enjoyment, at the silliness of the stories, plus sometimes making telling points along the way.
UNRELIABLE PROFESSIONAL LOOKING WEBSITES
Other big "news" websites are not meant as a joke, but are well known for publishing a lot of unreliable news. There are many of these.
"Before it's news" is particularly famous as one of the sites that often publishes stories that are not very well researched or credible. Anyone can post articles there, with no peer review, no journalistic overview, or editor, and it is a noted hot spot on the internet for crackpot theories. See Before it's News (rational wiki).
NIBIRU DEBUNKING ARTICLES AND VIDEOS
Many of those who asked me about this said things such as "how come it is only you saying this". Why only you out of billions of people writing like this?
So it's clear that many of you are not aware of the many Nibiru debunking articles and videos. I don't think they get linked to much from the conspiracy websites.
Also, perhaps because they are less scary, and also again probably because they aren't linked to so much, they tend to drop way down in the YouTube and google search results and may be hard to find.
Here are a few.
DEBUNKING FROM NASA
That's David Morrison, senior scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute at NASA Ames Research Center in California, a distinguished astrophysicist best known for his work on risk assessment of asteroids and comets. Retired now, in the past he has been director of the Search for Extra Terrestrial Inteligences (SETI Institute) and director of space at NASA Ames, and also did an "Ask the astrobiologist" column for NASA for some years.
Here are some of his answers to questions from the public about Nibiru
If Nibiru is a hoax like you state consistently, then why did NASA admit to it on their own web page? Second off, Why did NASA build a Telescope on the southern pole of the earth to where supposively Nibiru will be heading from, if it actually exist.
I have combed through the evidence you have posted about Nibiru and there is still one thing you scientist have heavily avoided! What about the Sumerian Tablets and what they say about Nibiru, the Anunnaki, and our own history? When I read the translation of the tablets the earliest stories are the most believable. They talk of visiting planet after planet as they traveled until they reached earth, and they refer to refueling on Mars. How do you explain the Annunaki and the Sumerian tablets translations?
Question about Nibiru: I have made a lot of photos from digital web camera in Japan via Internet. What is the object near the sun as large as moon? Millions people around the world have seen this object. And the number of such people grows very quickly. It's often situated near the sun, and The NASA keeps dead silence in this case.
- etc etc. In total he has answered 193 questions from the general public about Nibiru.
For a short overview of this from NASA: Why the world didn't end in 2012.
On Nibiru they just say
"Q: What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end in 2012?
"A: The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 - hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012.
"Q: Is there a planet or brown dwarf called Nibiru or Planet X or Eris that is approaching the Earth and threatening our planet with widespread destruction?
"A: Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, 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. Eris is real, but it is a dwarf planet similar to Pluto that will remain in the outer solar system; the closest it can come to Earth is about 4 billion miles.
See Why the world didn't end in 2012.
David Morrison also coined a new word cosmophobia, meaning "an irrational fear of the cosmos". He became aware of it through the enormous number of emails he got at his job from people who were genuinely totally scared by these various doomsday scenarios. In some cases they were so scared they told him they were contemplating suicide out of fear of what would happen and asked for his advice on that.
His term is now used as the name for the website cosmophobia.org (with his permission - formally called 2012hoax.org) which is a site devoted to careful examination of claims that evoke cosmophobia:
"This site will deal with various claims that invoke 'cosmophobia', where the fear factor is pumped up in claims in order to make something fairly mundane sound sinister and threatening. In addition to claims made about astronomy, we will also look into claims touching on other fields of science such as geology and vulcanology. We will approach all claims from a perspective of skeptical inquiry. The claimant must provide evidence that supports their claims, and extraordinary claims will require extraordinary evidence."
See What the Heck is "Cosmophobia".
Here is his video talk about cosmophobia.
Here is his page about Nibiru which goes into a lot of detail about it, debunking it.
I don't have cosmophobia. But like nearly everyone, I do have some other phobias, including a mild fear of heights. Not huge, but I couldn't stand on top of a pinnacle like this
Mountain climber, the climber is Gaston Rebuffat, on an Aiguille ("needle" or rock pinnacle) in front of Mont Blanc, photo by George Tairraz , 1944, one of the photographs sent into interstellar space on the Voyager 1 golden disk. Also cover photo for his book:
He is author of many other books on mountaineering, including Starlight and Storm.
Or like this:
Technically it's not that hard a climb apparently. Just a US grade III which I think is the same as the UK diff or vdiff. Lots of "jugs" to hold onto. I could have probably climbed it easily back in the day when I was a twenty-some year old rock climbing every weekend. Except I could never have stood up on the summit even with a rope.
In this one, notice how the rope just hangs clear all the way down the pinnacle with no protection put in at all as far as I can see, not doing much to protect this climber:
But this is a dead easy route for any rock climber. And some types of rock are crumbly and dangerous - but this rock is firm - described as "Despite their rotten appearance, the Cutler Sandstone is probably the hardest sandstone in Utah and is pretty solid"
It's not going to break apart and fall down - well will do surely over geological timescales of thousands or millions of years but not right now. Being scared about standing on top of that is not that different from being scared about standing on the traffic side of a pavement just fraction of a meter away from passing traffic. In both cases if you fell over you've had it, but people don't suddenly fall over in situations like that unless you have a medical condition of some sort.
Two of my nephews used to climbing rocky peaks on the Isle of Skye don't feel it at all. I've seen them stand on top of rocks like this, without a rope, totally unscared, with a drop of hundreds of meters right next to them. Just as if they were standing on a pavement in a busy street. For them it is no different at all.
But I couldn't do it. I enjoyed rock climbing, back in my twenties when I did a lot of it. But even knowing that the rock is firm and that I'd be safe. I simply wouldn't have been able to stand up when I got there, as she does. I'd have had to sit on top instead. No rational reason at all. Lot's of room there, not hard to balance, at least, not unless you have a bit of a phobia for heights, in which case you might well fall.
So, from what he says, it seems that perhaps some people have a phobia like this about cosmic disasters. From watching movies, reading these scare stories etc.
At least that's what David Morrison thinks and he has had the experience of answering many emails of this sort, by people who are scared of Nibiru and other things like that which they think will destroy the world. He spent an hour every day for several years answering these emails. That's while holding down a job as a top NASA scientist who has lots of things he needed to do for his work for NASA.
Following his example, I'm happy to answer your comments also, if that's what it takes to help those who are scared of such things. You can comment on the blog post or start a discussion on the kindle book page.
DEBUNKING - EVERYONE ELSE
Some go into a lot of detail like The Planet X Saga: The Scientific Arguments in a Nutshell, others just say in a few words that it is totally silly. So here are some examples that I've gathered.
- Planet Nibiru is not real. by Earth and Sky chief editor Bruce McClure
- Phil Plait's debunking article: The Planet X Saga: The Scientific Arguments in a Nutshell. This goes into a lot of detail Phil Plait worked on the Hubble space telescope and is author of many books on astronomy and writes an entertaining accurate science blog on astronomical topics called "Bad Astronomy".
- Neil DeGrasse Tyson's video which I already gave above - he is a very popular TV astronomer in the US, also an astrophysicist and director of the planetarium in New York City.
- tweet by Brian Cox - he is a particle physicist associated with the Large Hadron Collider in Europe - and he is a very popular TV expert presenter on astronomy in the UK who has done many television programs and TV series on astronomy
- Colin Johnston's post for the Armagh planetarium in Ireland - he is its science education presenter.
The Nibiru videos and stories rarely link to these, and if they do it is to say that they are part of a world wide cover up conspiracy. Judge for yourself :). I'm sure there are many more.
WHY DON'T WE GET MORE NEWS STORIES DEBUNKING IT IN THE TOP ASTRONOMY JOURNALS AND WEBSITES
In particular those asking the questions pointed out that there seemed to be nothing in them debunking Nibiru this time around.
That's because it isn't news for most people. You aren't going to get articles debunking this in Sky and Telescope or Astronomy Magazine or Astronomy Now because it wouldn't be regarded as astronomy. Typical readers of those magazines would already know enough to judge for themselves that these stories are nonsense and they don't need to be told and wouldn't be interested in buying articles like this.
Incidentally if you want to get a better understanding of astronomy - as well as talking to amateur astronomers, you can also try reading a few astronomy magazines. There are many wonderful things in the sky you can read about, and maybe you can get someone to show you them through a telescope also. Or visit a planetarium to find out about astronomy.
But you won't find anything there about newly discovered planets in the inner solar system or new suns.
You will find lots of stories nowadays about discovery of planets around other stars. We are going through exciting times in this field right now, with new discoveries of planets around other stars every month. It's now thought that just about every star in the sky has planets orbiting it. These are many light years away - Pluto is only 5.5 light hours away - so there is no possibility at all of any of these planets approaching Earth.
Here for instance is a picture of Earth to the right and six of the most Earth like planets found orbiting other stars recently.
This is a more complete list of all the potentially habitable exoplanets found so far (as of November this year). The smallest one is only 1.1. times the diameter of Earth. But wide ranges of uncertainty of their mass etc. They all orbit at the right distance from their parent star to have liquid water, potentially.
They are artist's impressions - we can't photograph the planets themselves, because they are so far away, only detect them by their gravitational influence on their parent star.
If you include the non Earth like planets, then hundreds of them are known now. There's a great poster of all the exoplanets discovered to date here on Halcyon maps
WHERE TO GO FOR RELIABLE ASTRONOMY NEWS
To get an idea of what the Nibiru stories sound like to anyone with a basic background in astronomy, try replacing Nibiru by "giant pumpkin" - are you worried that the Earth will be eaten by a hungry giant pumpkin in December?
Would you have difficulty sleeping, contemplate suicide (as some have done for Nibiru), filled with anxiety, and scour the web for the latest stories about Hungry Pumpkin?
Or would you just LOL?
Have you ever heard of any successful prediction of anything in astronomy based on ancient scriptures? Have these people that write these Nibiru stories or present the Nibiru videos ever successfully predicted any astronomical event?
It's knowledge that can help you counter the fear of Nibiru. If you know a little bit about Astronomy then you will see for yourself that it is nonsense. You won't have to ask people like me to reassure you. You will just LOL yourself when you hear these things.
For a more reputable source of astronomy news, try astronomy magazines such as:
Also try browsing the astronomy magazines section in any large stationer (or news agent or whatever you call it).
For online reliable sources on astronomy, try these websites:
They are all reliable sources of information on astronomy. As well as many others, but if you monitor those three sites you'll be up to date on just about anything of significance in astronomy news.
Astronomy is a popular amateur hobby with many people world wide involved in it. It is also one of the few hobbies where the keenest amateurs are a vital part of modern science - there are many areas of research that simply couldn't be done without the support of the amateur astronomers, including asteroid tracking.
These magazines and news sites are how many of us keep in touch with the latest developments. If you are interested in the subject and want to take it up as a hobby yourself, you can also try joining your local amateur astronomy group. Unless you live in a remote location, there is probably one close by.
PLEASE SHARE THIS ARTICLE TO HELP COUNTERACT THIS NIBIRU NONSENSE
I wonder if there is any chance of making a debunking Nibiru post go viral? To counter the viral sharing of this Nibiru nonsense?
It's going to be a tough job because I think people are far more likely to share a post saying the world is going to end in December than they are to share a post saying the world is not going to end in December. I think that is pretty much the whole of the reason why you see so much about this on the internet.
Everyone - if you find this article helpful - do share it on Nibiru websites and video comments, and in social media such as facebook and twitter.
And ask your friends to share it as well if they find it helpful. Let's counteract this Nibiru Nonsense.
Perhaps we can do our little bit to help get the truth go viral as well?