By News Online's Stuart O'Brien
BBC News Thursday, July 29, 1999

The eclipse has become another date of doom for the prophets of armageddon and the world's obstinate refusal to end according to their predictions is doing little to dent their ardour.

Lumping together the ancient - quotations from the Bible, or Nostradamus - with the new, such as astronomical star charts and the "Millennium Bug", the disaster-mongers appear desperate for something to trigger the Apocalypse. The coincidental cosmic event on 11 August seems to fit the bill nicely.

Books related to the, at best vague, prophecies of Nostradamus are still selling well, with their authors now pencilling in September as the likely date for global destruction. That should do it

Nostradamus, having predicted the end of the world for July, apparently decided to add a meteorite strike in September for good measure. This will cause "tidal waves, clouds of dust, earthquakes, hurricanes and political upheaval".

Add this to the fact that 9 September, or 9/9/99 is used as a termination signal in some computer programs and you have an even more compelling case for disaster, claim the seers.

Paco Rabanne is one celebrity who is taking such warnings seriously. He has decided to get out of Paris, as he believes the Russian Mir space station is going to fall there during the eclipse. Are we there yet?

Previous end of the world predictions

999 - Pope Sylvester announces the second coming of Christ. Christians give their possessions to the Church, travel to holy places and burn people who might be witches.

1534 - Anabaptists in Münster, Germany declare the second coming is at hand and barricade themselves in. They fall from puritanism to sexual permissiveness and are eventually starved out. Their leaders are killed.

1736 - Followers of a man called Whiston rush to Hampstead to watch the destruction of London as a curtain raiser before the world ends.

1843 - American farmer William Miller predicts the end of the world will fall on 21 March. So-called 'Millerites' gather on hilltops to greet Christ and the angels. Needless to say, it does not happen. He checks his figures and announces that it is still on, this time for 22 October 1844. This becomes known as "the Great Disappointment" when the apocalypse fails to materialise.

1914 - One of the years chosen for Armageddon by the Jehovah's Witnesses. When that passed they tried 1918, 1925....then 1975. Then they gave up the end-of-the-world prediction business.

1919 - Albert Porta, a weatherman in the US, predicts that the Sun will explode and take the Earth with it.

1955 - Prophet Marian Keetch warns of massive floods - a revelation allowed to her by her contact with aliens. When it does not happen she claims they were averted by the power of prayer.

1967 - The Six Day War in the Middle East is expected by some fundamentalist Christians to trigger the "Rapture", when the just are supposed the be raised to Heaven before the world ends.

1969 - According to Charles Manson, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, otherwise known as the Beatles, were supposed to bring about Armageddon with their song "Helter Skelter".

1987 - Dr Jose Arguelles predicts the end is nigh on August 16, due to the alignment of the planets. This was supposed to cause a galactic beam to hit the Earth, with the usual consequences.

1988 - Nasa scientist Edgar Whisenaut predicts the Rapture will take place in 1988 and makes a lot of money selling books about it.

Meanwhile, Charles Taylor, a "prophecy teacher" in the US who also predicted the end for that year, arranged tours of the Holy Land, including "return if necessary".

1992 - Korea. Pastor Lee Jang Rim predicts the Rapture for October. When it fails to take place, some of his followers kill themselves.

1993 - Marie Devi Khristo of the White Brotherhood in the Ukraine predicts the world will end at midday on the 14 November....then tries again nine days later.

1995 - The Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh predicted the end of the world would happen in 1995. In the event, he and many other followers died following the siege at Waco, Texas in 1993.

1997 - Self-professed Son of God and TV sports presenter David Icke decides the world will end in 1997, following the usual earthquakes and floods.

This was also the year that many members of the Heaven's Gate cult committed suicide. They believed that the Hale-Bopp comet heralded the apocalypse and they thought that this was the only way they could join an alien spacecraft which they thought was travelling in the comet's wake.

Magician Aleister Crowley also decided that "a devastating world war" would finish us off that year.

1999 - Nostradamus predicted the end for July. Maybe he meant September...