As citizen scientists collectively nerd-out ahead of Monday's total solar eclipse, rogue observers of the spooky and weird are generating theories that the celestial event could usher in aliens, boost sightings of "interdimensional" creatures and perhaps even plunge us toward world destruction.
That's because paranormal researchers and conspiracy theorists figure the eclipse is ripe for otherworldly sightings like the Lizard Man, the Moss Man and Kentucky aliens — or the coming of the errant Nibiru planet that will collide with Earth.
It's likely all tied to old urban legends or exaggerated folklore to mark the once-in-a-lifetime event for many Americans. But tell that to Dennis Carroll, a paranormal investigative researcher who has studied various creature myths, including Lizard Man.
"This is a universe full of possibilities," said Carroll, who has been a paranormal researcher for 40 years. "To say anything's impossible rules out a lot."
As legend has it, the famous Lizard Man first appeared in the 1970s when a giant human-looking reptile tried to attack a stranded motorist somewhere in South Carolina. The beast jumped on the man's car as he barreled into town, where — frightened — he relayed the story to the local sheriff.
Carroll claims that a few times each year the veil separating realities becomes so thin that it opens up portals to other realms. Think Stranger Things. This allows for the appearance of "interdimensional" creatures such as Lizard Man and Moss Man, a 6-to-8-foot tall species with no neck and large, blazing-red eyes.
Those times when realities may mix, Carroll said, include Halloween, the April 30 German folklore holiday of Walpurgis Night (an evening when witches revel with the devil, notes Oxford Dictionaries) and on Monday during the total solar eclipse.
The theories have prompted some cheeky responses by authorities. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division put out a playful tweet detailing supposed Lizard Man sightings and instructing people to "see something, say something."
NASA, on the other hand, had to step in to dispel various conspiracy theories, including that the eclipse will emit radiation harming our food, foretell major life changes or cause poor health.
Re-emerging once again is the theory the planet Nibiru will collide with earth and destroy us all shortly after the eclipse. This belief, promoted by Christian numerologist and doomsayer David Meade, is based on numerology (the number 33) and biblical passages. Put simply, Meade believes Earth's destruction will occur on Sept. 23, 33 days after the eclipse.
The conspiracy theory gained such traction a few years ago that NASA senior scientist David Morrison actually had to officially denounce it as a hoax. "Please get over it," he said in a video dismissing the theory. "Nibiru isn't real ... We don't have to worry about this hoax."
Some in Kentucky, meanwhile, tie the eclipse to the extraterrestrial. Monday marks 62 years to the day when some say locals engaged in a Cowboys & Aliens-style battle with Galactic outsiders.
Early on the morning of Aug. 21, 1955, a man saw a bright object shoot across the Kentucky sky before the aliens crashed a party at a farmhouse. The aliens — with large heads and eyes, long arms and claw-like hands — caused partygoers to fire at the creatures with rifles and shotguns.
It's remembered as the Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter, which influenced the making of E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.
If you want to play along with the madness at home, there's always this "Sunsquatch" map created by data visualizer and cartographer Joshua Stephens. HuffPost reported Stephens mapped all Sasquatch sightings that fall in the eclipse's path.
"There are no more eclipse maps to make"— Joshua Stevens (@jscarto) August 3, 2017
Challenge accepted. pic.twitter.com/PnFJSXeSiY
Whether you're a skeptic or a believer, Carroll gives advice for warding off potentially evil forces.
"The best thing is to try to foster in yourself a positive mindset and positive attitude."
Jeffrey Lee Pucket of The (Louisville) Courier-Journal and Chuck Campbell of USA TODAY Network — Tennessee contributed to this article. Follow Sean Rossman on Twitter: @SeanRossman.