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Oct. 17 the Sun Will Rise Continuously for 36 Hours

Netlore Archive: Baseless online rumor claims 'the sun will rise continuously for 36 hours' on October 17, transforming three normal days into two 'big days' - an event that supposedly happens only once every 2,400 years.

Description: Internet rumor
Circulating since: Aug. 2008 (repeats annually)
Status: False (see details below)

Example #1:
Email contributed by Swapnil D., Aug. 27, 2008:

FW: Sun will rise continuously for 36hrs (1.5 days)

Coming October 17, 2008 the sun will rise continuously for 36 hrs (1.5 days). During this time the US countries will be dark for 1.5 days. It will convert 3 days into 2 big days. It will happen once in 2400 yrs. We're very lucky to see this. Forward it to all ur frenz

Example #2:
As posted online, Aug. 17, 2008:

Coming October 17, the sun will rise continuously for 36hours (1.5 Days) In this time the US countries will be dark for 1.5 Days. It will convert 3 Days to 2 Big Days. It will happen once in 2400 years. We are very lucky to see it. Don’t miss it!

Analysis: Poppycock. Let's begin by applying some grade-school science to dispel the ridiculous notion that the sun even could "rise continuously for 36 hours."

The reason we perceive the sun as "rising" or "setting" every 24 hours is because the earth rotates on its axis while revolving around the sun. It does not — and cannot — stop rotating, nor does its speed appreciably fluctuate (various factors such as climate and seismic events can cause miniscule changes in the earth's rotation speed, but according to scientists all of these combined add up to a differential of no more than one second per year).

In order for a day to last 36 hours, the earth's rotation would either have to cease altogether or slow down dramatically — neither of which ever happens, let alone once every 2,400 years. It's physically impossible.

But you knew that, right? What you're really wondering is where this strange idea came from.

Obscure origins of an absurd prediction

Based on the available info (of which there is very little, admittedly), my best guess is that it began as a prank, pure and simple; that it originated in India; and that the perpetrator(s) of the hoax put a great deal of effort into disseminating it.

Here's what I've been able to establish:

  • During a one-month period from mid-August to mid-September 2008, over 15,000 postings containing the phrase "the sun will rise continuously for 36 hours" appeared on the Internet.
  • Nearly all of these postings contained precisely the same wording.
  • Nearly all of these postings originated in India.
  • As far as I can tell, not a single word about a October 17 being a 36-hour day appeared in any source, online or off, prior to August 2008.

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Sources and further reading:

Speed of the Earth
About.com: Geography

Bad Weather Makes for a Long Day
Scientific American, 22 April 2008

Can NASA Confirm the Missing Day Referred to in the Bible?
NASA: Ask an Astrophysicist, 25 March 1997

NASA and the Missing Day in Time
Urban Legends, 5 October 2006

Last updated: 08/23/12

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