USM astronomer: No need to fear rare planetary alignment

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Some internet predictions that the world would end on September 23, 2017 because of a rare planetary alignment haven't come true...yet.

Some say the cosmic event, which places the sun, moon and Jupiter in the constellation Virgo, and the planets Venus, Mars and Mercury above Virgo in the constellation Leo, is the fulfillment of a sign from Revelation Chapter 12 in The Bible.

But, one Southern Miss professor says the alignment isn't all that spectacular and certainly is not as interesting as the recent solar eclipse.

"There's no physical thing happening that's going to affect any of us on Earth, except that we have some neat little dots to look at in the sky," said Chris Sirola, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Southern Mississippi. "So, if you remember we had an eclipse not that long ago. There were all sorts of prophets of doom about that. We're still here. There was a transit of Venus across the face of the Sun back in 2012, where Venus went across the Sun. Prophets of doom, we're still here. Mars was as big as it's ever been, I think it was in 2004 or thereabouts. We're still here."

Some reports say the last time a similar alignment occurred was 7,000 years ago.