On April 8, all eyes will be on the sky as the upcoming total solar eclipse makes its way across the United States on a diagonal route from Texas to Maine. People in the twelve states through which the path of totality will cross are bracing for an influx of visitors wearing those weird eclipse glasses.

The town of Carbondale, Illinois, is one of the communities on the path of totality. In fact, it was also on the path of totality for the last total solar eclipse that occurred on August 21, 2017. The fact has led some doomsday theorists to suggest that the eclipse will kickstart a disaster for Carbondale. Let’s dive into this.

X Marks the Spot

The upcoming solar eclipse follows a southwest to northeast path from Texas to Maine. The eclipse that occurred in 2017 followed a northwest to southeast path from Oregon to South Carolina.

Source: Science.nasa.gov

If you were to draw two lines on a map of the United States that precisely follow the paths of these two astronomical events, the two lines will intersect to form an X. At the center of that X sits the town of Carbondale, Illinois.

Witnesses to Two Solar Eclipses in Seven Years

The residents of Carbondale will be treated to a second total solar eclipse in the span of seven years. How unusual is that? Well, according to Professor of Physics, Frank Close, of Oxford University, it is extremely unusual.

Source: BBC

As Professor Close explained, “If you lived forever, and you never moved from where you are today, on average, you would have to wait 400 years for a total eclipse to come across where you are.”

Is This a Random Occurrence Or Is Something Else Going On?

The chances of the same place experiencing two total eclipses in such a brief time frame is so minuscule that some people believe it is not a random occurrence. Instead, they believe the upcoming eclipse will be a harbinger of doom.

Source: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

According to these doomsday theorists, the April 8th eclipse will trigger a catastrophic seismic event that will wipe the town of Carbondale off the map. A seismic event, of course, means an earthquake. But do earthquakes even strike Illinois? The answer may surprise you.

The New Madrid Fault

Although we often associate devastating earthquakes with California and the San Andreas Fault, in reality, the New Madrid Fault is just as likely to slip, unleashing a catastrophic earthquake. It has happened before.

Source: Owlcation

In 1811 and 1812, a series of major quakes rocked the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Seismologists estimate these earthquakes to have had magnitudes of between 7.5 and 7.0. This makes them some of the largest and most devastating seismic events in the continental U.S. Carbondale, Illinois, sits on the northern end of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, so a catastrophic earthquake is not out of the realm of possibility.

The Ancient Greeks Also Believed There Was a Connection Between Eclipses and Earthquakes

Greek historian Thucydides wrote in the 4th century BC that earthquakes and tremors could be caused by astronomical events. He may have been onto something. A scientific study conducted in 2016 concluded that there was a slight increase in seismic activity during full moons.

Source: Ancient Origins

The full moon caused the greatest amount of tidal pull, thus increasing seismic activity ever so slightly. The 2016 study, however, didn’t mention eclipses. Close noted, “Earthquakes happen a lot, and many other disasters. If you lumped all disasters and things together, one or two are bound to overlap with an eclipse.”

More Doomsday Scenarios

Not all the doomsday scenarios regarding the upcoming eclipse and Carbondale, Illinois, have to do with earthquake activity. Some are far more chilling.

Source: Skillcast

According to some doomsday theorists, the eclipse will trigger a mass human sacrifice event that will begin in Carbondale and spread to other areas. Others have speculated that a comet will strike Carbondale or that America’s enemies will launch a cyber attack starting in Carbondale.

Fear of Upcoming Eclipses Is Nothing New

Ahead of the 2017 solar eclipse David Meade, a popular Christian eschatologist – a theologist who specializes in scriptures that deal with death, apocalypse, and final judgment – predicted that a small planet called Nibiru would crash into our planet. Of course, that didn’t happen … probably because Nibiru doesn’t exist.

Source: Lynette Cook

Outlandish and wacky doomsday theories about eclipses, however, are not a new phenomenon. History is filled with stories linking solar and lunar eclipses with death and destruction.

An Eclipse Will Preclude Ragnarök

According to Norse mythology, two wolves, named Sköll and Hati, constantly chase after the sun and the moon. The sun goddess, Sol, is pursued by Sköll. If he were to catch her and eat her, it would kickstart Ragnarök, the end of days.

Source: Wikimedia/John Charles Dollman

During an eclipse, when the Sun and the Moon come together, Sol is more vulnerable to being caught by Sköll. In the past, people would bang on metal pots, ring bells, and create loud noises during a solar eclipse in hopes of scaring away Sköll, saving Sol, and avoiding the doomsday of Ragnarök.

The Spirits of the Dead Would Rise Up

Mayan cultures of Mesoamerica also believed that solar eclipses signified the impending end of the world. According to some Mayan myths, the spirits of the dead would rise up during a solar eclipse and devour the people of earth.

Source: Reddit/AskHistorians

Other Mayan myths stated that giant jaguars would appear during a solar eclipse. The jaguars would be the ones eating all the humans. They performed human sacrifices, chanted, and engaged in religious rituals in hopes of appeasing the gods and saving mankind from the power of the eclipse.

An Eclipse Ended the Battle of Halys

According to an account by the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, the Battle of Halys was cut short by a solar eclipse that frightened both sides so much that a peace treaty was drawn up. Astronomers have been able to determine the exact date of this battle – May 28, 585 BC.

Source: Wikimedia/Camille Flammarion

It took place in what is now Turkey and pitted the Medes against the Lydians. As Herodotus explains, the battle was going along nicely when suddenly “day turned into night.” Both Medes and Lydians leaders understood this as a sign from above. A treaty was quickly signed and a war that had been raging for six years ended.

The 1878 Eclipse Brought Fears of Armageddon

Devout Christians were certain that the 1878 solar eclipse that crossed the United States was a sign of the second coming of Jesus, Judgment Day, and Armageddon. Instead of watching the celestial event, many people hid in churches and prayed for salvation until the sunlight returned.

Source: Wikimedia/From public domain book

The eclipse caused one man to be so fearful of Armageddon that he killed his own family with an ax and then killed himself so none of them would have to experience the end of days.

Follow the Science

Physicist Bob Baer of Southern Illinois University Carbondale is well aware of the doomsday predictions regarding the upcoming solar eclipse in Carbondale, however he prefers to follow the science. Both the university and the town of Carbondale are hosting several public events to share the science of eclipses with the community.

Source: Russell Bailey

Baer instructs people on astronomy as part of the public astronomy observation program. He is also volunteering with the citizen-science project, Dynamic Eclipse Broadcast Initiative. Through this initiative, citizen scientists are trained to use telescopes to take photographs of the eclipse from the path of totality. The goal is to prepare as many people as possible to take high quality photographs of the eclipse that can be studied later.

Panic, Hype, and Anxiety

Baer explained that ahead of the 2017 eclipse, he witnessed people experiencing anxiety and panic. Those emotions, however, had nothing to do with concerns about an impending cataclysm. Instead, people worried how the small town of Carbondale would handle the influx of people.

Source: Shutterstock/Nikola Fific

He noted the residents of Carbondale were “panicked about the planning and how the infrastructure was going to hold up.” The community learned a lot from the 2017 eclipse and can apply those lessons to the upcoming eclipse.

A “Very Unifying Event”

Carbondale has taken the necessary steps to manage the crowds of people coming to see the eclipse. They are being proactive about traffic control, adding portable bathrooms, and opening parking areas.

Source: Shutterstock/IgorZh

There will be a live performance at the university stadium, as well as a live broadcast of the eclipse. An air force flyover is even planned. In all, Baer says, the 2024 eclipse will be a “positive, very unifying event” for the people of Carbondale and the visitors to the community. He refuses to put stock in the doomsday prophecies that are currently circulating.