On the off chance you're given to believing every sky-is-falling theory you run across on Facebook, the one about a planetary alignment triggering a massive earthquake this week is absolute nonsense. Gizmodo traces the latest to a video from a guy named Frank in the Netherlands—under the name of Ditrianum Media—who claims a 9.8 magnitude earthquake will occur on North America’s West Coast tomorrow because he “received an important message” to that effect “directly from Spirit” in August 2013. The man says recent earthquakes in Tonga and the Soloman Islands are proof of an imminent “Big One” that will be caused by the alignment of the sun, Mercury, and Saturn between Earth and the moon. For one thing, earthquakes happen all the time, Gizmodo notes. But more importantly, it’s impossible for a planetary alignment to cause an earthquake.
The idea is that the combined gravity of the planets could influence earthquakes, but even under ideal conditions, the planets would have less gravitational pull on the Earth than the moon, which “at very best has an extremely weak influence on earthquakes,” writes Phil Plait at Slate. And even the alignment is bogus. The software used to display the alignment in the video was adjusted to show exaggerated planet sizes. When the same software is switched to a “realistic” view, the alignment disappears, at least as far as its relation to Earth and the moon, reports Weather Network. What of claims an asteroid will smash into Earth on Sept. 24? A single asteroid is known to be flying by Earth on that date; it will be 5 million miles away. (CNN has a clip to air at the world's end.)