Parts of Siberia experienced a bit of a bizarre phenomenon last week, when the Sun completely disappeared for several hours.
The incident took place in the Russian republic of Yakutia (also called Sakha), home to some of the coldest cities in the world, notes Live Science, with less than two hours of sunlight in the winter. In early July, they get up to 24 hours of sunlight, down to about 20 hours by mid-July.
So locals in the districts of Eveno-Bytantaisky and Zhigansky were reportedly a bit dismayed when the Sun disappeared for about three hours in the middle of the day on Friday, July 20.
“The sun went out around 11am, and didn’t come back until about 2pm,” one resident said, reported The Siberian Times. “I couldn’t see a thing without switching lights on. We took torches to walk outside, but actually no-one wanted to be on the street because the feeling was as if something heavy in the air was pressing on your chest.”
When the Sun eventually returned, everything had been covered in a thick layer of dust. The obvious culprit appears to be the wildfires raging elsewhere in Siberia. These have been burning across a huge area about twice the size of Houston. Some of the smoke from these fires even reached Canada.
While that explanation might seem pretty obvious, that didn’t stop some rather bizarre conspiracy theories from sprouting up. In another story on The Siberian Times, locals thought the dark sky might have been caused by everything from a US satellite to, yes, UFOs. Some people apparently even thought it was an unreported solar eclipse, which is literally impossible, while others blamed “devilry”.
We hate to rain on the conspiracy parade, but this was almost definitely the result of wildfires and not some unknown phenomenon. It’s currently wildfire season in Siberia, with hundreds of fires having burned thousands of acres of forest since May, watched by NASA satellites.
Still, it did make for some rather impressive photos. And when you’ve been waiting all year for prolonged sunshine and temperatures to rise, it’s probably a bit annoying when it suddenly disappears for a few hours. You pesky star, you.