Time for Spaced-Out (real) science at Western on Saturday

Planet Nibiru doesn’t exist — and there is zero scientific basis to support a viral “prophecy” that a secret planet will somehow appear on Saturday to mark the start of the end of life on Earth.

“This apocalyptic claim, based on ‘numeracy research’ that has gained traction online, is so bizarre that it’s almost laughable. It’s a virtual case study in why we need to encourage science literacy,” said Parshati Patel, outreach co-ordinator for the Centre for Space and Planetary Exploration (CPSX) at Western.

Ironically, the timing of Earth’s supposed imminent destruction — part of a prediction put forward by a self-proclaimed US researcher who “discovered” and interpreted a secret numbers code in the Bible — comes on Saturday at the same time as Western is host to a public astronomy event in celebration of Science Literacy Week.

There, budding astronomers and other scientists can do some hands-on research to learn about real planets, real rocks and real stars, and to understand how to separate fact from fantasy, science from speculation.

They may even learn that, while there is no evidence for an imaginary planet hurtling towards Earth, there are emerging mathematical and astronomical theories that suggest a ninth planet could be orbiting the Sun in a wide elliptical circuit far beyond Pluto.

Meanwhile, Patel and other scientists are adamant that Sept. 23 marks an opportunity to learn and have fun, not to prepare for the end. “This ‘Nibiru’ story isn’t research and it isn’t science. It’s just plain wrong,” Patel said.
WHAT: Space Out at Cronyn Observatory as part of Science Literacy Week
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 23, 5  – 9 p.m.
WHERE: Cronyn Observatory, Western University, with free parking in Springett Lot
WHO: Hosted by Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – London Chapter, and The Planetary Society – London Chapter
WHAT ELSE: Space Science Challenge for students and adults, historical displays and artifacts, spectroscopy demonstration, crafts, edible-rock analysis, raffle and prizes, star- and planet-gazing through a variety of telescopes on site. Check out Science Literacy Week online.
MEDIA CONTACT: Debora Van Brenk, Media Relations Officer, Western University, 519-661-2111 x85165, or on mobile at 519-318-0657 and deb.vanbrenk@uwo.ca 
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