Halley’s Comet and a Dark Day o’ Doom: A couple of doomsday panics

On this day in 1910, the world had one of its regular doomsday panics. This time catatrophe was thought to be coming from space.

Wired has a nice article on Earth’s encounter with Halley’s Comet; we passed through its tail for six hours and, picking up on reports that this would expose the population to deadly levels of cyanogen, the press went crazy. Vigils were held, churches put on prayer meetings. And, of course, nothing happened.

Interestingly, in 1780, residents of New England also thought May 19 was bringing the end of the world in its wake. A mysterious darkness fell in the daytime and obviously people feared the worst, expecting the Second Coming at any minute. It wasn’t until 2007 that the link was Made between the Dark Day of 1780 and the smoke from forest fires in Canada.

Still, at least it’s not as though anyone’s predicted the end of the world for this weekend, is it?

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