The Far Right Is Crawling With Eclipse Conspiracy Theories

Solar eclipses, like the upcoming one on April 8, are a well-documented scientific phenomenon. As early as 763 BCE, ancient Assyrians were charting the process by which the path of the moon temporarily obstructs the sun, and astronomers have continued to do so for thousands of years since. Our knowledge of eclipses predates our knowledge of gravity, algebra, and toilet paper. We are well aware of their existence, and we are well aware of what causes them. (I mean, I personally am not, but other people ostensibly are.)

What the ancient Assyrians could not have possibly predicted, however, was the singular stupidity of the current incarnation of the American right. Unconvinced by thousands of years of scientific inquiry, as well as driven by a general sense of apocalyptic bloodlust, many on the right are trading conspiracy theories about the upcoming eclipse, ranging from the belief that it signals the End Times to the idea that the Biden administration is using it as an opportunity to shut down cellphone service or bring in the National Guard in an effort to make beautiful blond children who play sports transgender.

This latest onslaught of misinformation began, as it often does, with InfoWars host Alex Jones, who has spent the past few weeks ranting on X about the upcoming eclipse. Last week, he posted a clip with the caption: “Major Events Surrounding The April 8th Solar Eclipse[.] Masonic rituals planned worldwide to usher in New World Order.”

The post, which has more than 3,000 retweets and 1 million views, illustrates how the trajectory of the most recent solar eclipse viewable in the United States, as well as the trajectory of the upcoming eclipse, form an “Aleph” and “Tav,” which (as anyone who was forced to go to Hebrew school instead of staying home and using cheat codes to make your Sims woo-hoo naked knows) are the first and last letters in the Hebrew language, signaling the beginning and end times.

In another eclipse tweet posted on March 26, which has 3.8 million views, Jones included a video of a man speculating that various Texas and Oklahoma counties had declared a state of emergency in order to usher in a billionaire-led new world order.

It is, indeed, true that a number of counties, including Texas’ Travis County and Oklahoma’s McCurtain County, have issued disaster warnings prior to the eclipse. But it does not appear to be for the nefarious reasons suggested by Jones. Rather, it appears to be for the intended purpose of the government: to adopt public safety initiatives that protect people from harm. For instance, according to the Travis County declaration of local disaster, the county anticipates an influx of thousands of tourists to watch the eclipse, thereby leading to “extreme traffic congestion” and potential “telephone service disruptions.” Such conditions necessitate a declaration of a state of emergency to ensure “critical infrastructure protection” and “facilitating access to food, water, and shelter” in case the roads become overwhelmed, per the language of the declaration.

While this explanation sounds both highly rational and surprisingly efficient by county bureaucracy standards, it is not one that has been accepted by the slew of mini-Alex Joneses on TikTok, Instagram, and X.

Many of them have also focused on a NASA project based in Wallops Island, Virginia, near Chincoteague Island, to shoot rockets at the moon during the eclipse. Project APEP is shorthand for Atmospheric Perturbations Around the Eclipse Path, but it’s also a reference to the snake god of darkness — supposedly, the nemesis of the sun god Ra. Ostensibly, the title of the project, which is intended to measure changes in electric and magnetic fields, is a clever (albeit nerdy) reference to ancient Egyptian mythology.

This is not, however, how it has been interpreted by influencers like Dom Lucre, a far-right conspiracy theorist with more than 1.2 million followers on X. In an April 2 post about APEP, Lucre writes that during NASA’s project, “there will be rituals performed during the April 8th Eclipse,” during which “Masonic, Satanic, Esoteric, Gnostic, Brotherhood of the Snake and other occult-like groups will be performing.” Which is an interesting way of saying that nerds are going to be spending their Monday shooting a bunch of rockets from that little island horse girls are obsessed with, but OK.

It’s not all that surprising or unusual that brainrotted, terminally online people are obsessed with the eclipse. “It all feels very similar to the same run of conspiracy theories we had with stuff like the four blood moons and the Sept. 23rd apocalypse and other pseudoscience nonsense,” says Mike Rothschild, author of The Storm Is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything, referencing a series of doomsday prophecies peddled by evangelicals in 2014 and 2017, respectively. “Basically, a common event is imbued with cosmic significance, then totally forgotten when nothing happens.”

It’s far from unusual, Rothschild says, for there to be “weird theories and superstitions around cosmic events like eclipses, because people don’t understand science and how anything works.”

“I haven’t seen anyone encouraging people to look at the sun, so it’s probably not inherently dangerous,” he adds. “But it adds to the noise and churn that makes people distrust science and scientists.”


So coming from the perspective of someone who very much understands science and how eclipses work: On Monday, if you’re standing in the right place at the right time and wearing stupid-looking glasses, you may or may not see the sun go black for a moment, as has periodically happened since the recording of human history. It’s (probably) not going to lead to the apocalypse, and you’re (probably) not going to witness any world leaders participating in satanic rituals, and you (probably) won’t fall into a coma and wake up in a hospital six months later to find the world has been overtaken by flesh-eating zombies. But honestly, so what if you do? At least you won’t have to do your taxes this month. At least you don’t have to pretend to care about the Gladiator sequel. There’s plenty of upside here. Everything has been hard and boring lately. Bring on the new world order.