Debunked: An Astronomer at the McDonald Observatory Leaks the Location of Nibiru


Senior Member
It all started with this video:

The original copy has since been removed by Mr. Kaplan, the above copy has been slightly truncated to make it look more credible - you could hear him chuckle as his friend pretends to "haul him away" in the last few seconds. Kyle Kaplan has since uploaded this video confessing to the hoax:

He also did an interview with Dazzathecameraman talking about the hoax:

Despite these videos some on youtube are continuing to push this hoax, claiming that the coordinates he provided are the location of "Nibiru." Here's a recent example:

This hoax appears to be headed for "recurring legend" status in the annals of youtube. It seems like some will continue to push the hoax by simply repeating the claim without even showing any of the original video, let alone the retraction.

The night after this hoax came out I photographed the coordinates given in the video and now repeated by channels like BPearthwatch. Here's the telescope I used:
And here is the astrometrically solved image:
The preview picture it shows is over-enhanced but the actual fits file download is just the raw image with no alterations and the coordinate data embedded (you can get that link here: ).
Here's a jpg version of the image:

The large object on the right side of the image is NGC 1501, a planetary nebula mentioned in Kyle's hoax video which is what he was really observing that night. You can see it labeled in the annotated astrometrically solved version in the first link. Here's an animation of the Palomar Sky Survey image of those coordinates (taken about 22 years ago) overlaid on top:

There's a small bit of debris or defect with the Palomar plate which is not present in my new image (a common occurrence with scanned film plates), but no sign of "Nibiru."

In the meantime I had also contacted the PI listed for the 2.7m telescope that night and asked if the person seen in the video was one of her students. I also asked if they had any information about the location the autoguide camera had been pointing since the star he points out in the video appeared to be a guide star. She forwarded my email to Kyle who replied the next day and sent me this finder chart for the autoguide camera. The dreaded "Nibiru" he points out in the video is located in the middle:

The good news about professional observatories like this is that they plan everything well in advance and document everything, so even the autoguider camera had a finder chart set up showing exactly where it had been pointed, making it easy for me to find the hoaxed "Nibiru" star in my own image as well as the Palomar sky survey image. With the autoguider's coordinates (which were not the same as the coordinates he gave in the original hoax video which are now being propagated by others) I was easily able to overlay it back onto my image (the exact area was tricky for me to find without the help of the finder chart since his view was mirrored horizontally from mine):

You can see this star in the Palomar Sky Survey comparison image above as well.

It has not moved, even over 22 years. A real planet approaching the inner solar system would move dramatically between those images, even if it were "coming right at us."

Some stars do show high amounts of proper motion, particularly if they are relatively "close" stars, but this is not one of them. Someone else pointed out to me that there is a star moving between the Palomar Sky Survey image and my image, labeled here:

This is one such high proper motion star, specifically USNO-B1.0 1508-0122038. It has a proper motion of 86 mas/yr in right ascension and -98 mas/yr in declination (mas/yr = milliarcsecond per year). So, in my image it should be slightly down and to the left of where it was in the Palomar image taken nearly 22 years ago. 22*86 = 1892 milliarcseconds, or about 1.9 arcseconds. 22*98 = 2156 milliarcseconds or about 2.2 arcseconds. Given that the resolution of my image was about 1.9 arcseconds per pixel ( ) I should be able to resolve this proper motion as a slight motion of the star between the two images. The whole star should appear to be shifted about one pixel down and to the left in my image, which it is. I can also trace this same proper motion back even farther with the original Palomar Sky Survey plates from the 1950's and it is consistent with the published proper motion figures in the USNO-B1.0 catalog.
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Thanks!!! Astro . . . your analysis is far beyond what most even interested participants could venture . . . :)
Awesome debunk... I think. Need to take an astronomy course to really understand it.

This hoax appears to be headed for "recurring legend" status in the annals of youtube.

Interviewer: "Why did you make this video?"

Kyle: "I made it as a joke"
It seems every hoax backfires to some extent and ends up reinforcing the conspiracy theory.
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I fondly remember when the folks at UCLA leaked Nibiru's location years ago. ;)


This was in response to Nancy Lieder's claim that "Nibiru" was visible in imagery from the towercam atop Mt. Wilson. Ah, those were the days...