If you've ever fallen down a Wikipedia clickhole while searching for creepy legends — ingesting page after page of ancient eeriness while hours slip away unnoticed — well, you've come to the right place. While many scary stories are nothing more than myth or folklore, there are some creepy legends that were proven true, thanks to the all-defining eye of science.
Throughout human history, science has been a useful tool for shedding light on previously misunderstood events and phenomena. Just because these myths from history are confirmed by science doesn't mean that they're any less shiver-inducing. On the contrary, many become eerier after one finds out that these hard-to-fathom stories are real.
With that in mind, let's explore these ancient myths based in fact, and celebrate the incredible, beautiful, and downright spooky world we live in.
Why Did The "Guest Star" Go Away?Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY
No, not "guest star" like Elizabeth Taylor on General Hospital or Brad Pitt on Friends. This guest star is a celestial body that was once a visitor in our skies, or at least that's how the astronomers and observers of the day described it.
In 1006, a moving object that changed color could be seen in the sky for several months. The Persian scholar Ibn Sina took particular note of the phenomenon, and his guess as to what it was proved stunningly spot-on. While his contemporaries searched for supernatural or spiritual meaning in the "guest star" Sina saw a supernova ablaze with color. Incidentally, the sparks of that supernova can still be seen today.31894Did this surprise you?
People Are Still Finding The Goddess Pele's Hair Around KilaueaPhoto: flickr / CC0
According to some Hawaiian legends, Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes, immersed herself inside the shield volcano Kilauea to get away from her crazy older sister. Soon after, Kilauea became a hotspot of volcanic activity, and people regularly find Pele's tears and hair littered about the area.
Today, science tells us that Kilauea's eruptions are not the ravings of a buried younger sister, but what about the tears and hair? Researchers have concluded that these relics are made of volcanic fiberglass. When lava drops are flung into the air during an eruption, the wind catches and stretches them until they are morphed into hair-like or tear-like strands.465174Did this surprise you?
What Caused A Mysterious Sign To Appear In The Sky?Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY
In 1437, Koreans witnessed a massive fireball hover in the sky for some two weeks before abruptly vanishing. Obviously, the event caught the attention of the nation, and it has been widely documented in philosophical and spiritual writings of the time.
Many thought the bright light could only be some sort of celestial sign, some harbinger of other worlds. The real story wasn't discovered until recently, when scientists confirmed that what Koreans saw in 1437 were two stars causing a thermonuclear explosion. The result was a pair of red and white dwarf stars that burned brightly for 14 days.24869Did this surprise you?
Hampton Court Palace Might Not Be Haunted, But It's Definitely AbnormalPhoto: flickr / CC0
For centuries, Hampton Court Palace in London has been the home of numerous legends, most involving hauntings and ghost sightings. From the spectres of Jane Seymour (the wife of Henry VIII) to the infamous Grey Lady, Hampton Court has been an epicenter of supposed paranormal activity.
Despite its ghoulish prestige, the supernatural sensitivity of Hampton Court could be attributed to the property's erratic electromagnetic field. Weird magnetic forces can trick the brain into experiencing unexplainable sensations and feeling the presence of unseen forces. The question of why places like Hampton Court have unpredictable energy fields remains a mystery.312104Did this surprise you?