Historical accounts suggest that the Moon disappeared completely in 1110. Here are the new theories. Credit: Sean Ryan/Republic

1110, The Year When the Moon Disappeared From the Sky

Scientists have found clues on what caused the Moon to disappear.


In 1110, it was almost impossible to see the Moon in the sky of the Northern Hemisphere. According to historical evidence that has survived our times, our natural satellite was hidden behind an impenetrable cloud of volcanic ash.

Until recently, it was believed that the moon disappeared as a result of the eruption of the Hekla volcano, but now scientists have found out that the matter is in another volcano.


There is a hypothesis that the eruption of the volcano Hekla in 1104 led to the appearance of a colossal amount of volcanic substances in the atmosphere, which literally made the moon disappear from the night sky.

New studies, however, have shown that the Hekla volcano simply could not throw out enough ash to hide the moon. This was indicated, in particular, by the analysis of ice cores from layers from 900 years ago.


How did the Moon disappear?

Paleoclimatologist Sebastien Guillet from the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and scientists under his leadership studied all the available materials and decided that the disappearance of the Moon in Europe, observed from 1110 to 1120, was due to the eruption of the Mount Asama volcano in Japan.

Asama was the culprit behind the severe cold snap that began in Europe in 1109 and lasted for several years. However,  scientists do not exclude that there could be other volcanic eruptions that contributed to the cooling and disappearance of the Moon.

After all, can you imagine a single volcano eruption of this magnitude that would make the whole Moon disappear for a prolonged period of time? Perhaps, this eruption was part of a long series from around the world that has not been mentioned in the historical records.

There have been numerous massive volcanic eruptions in the time since 1110 but few had a similar effect on life on Earth as the one evidenced by the words of witnesses from 900 years ago.


This seems to be the case as the actual scientific report has been named “Climatic and societal impacts of a “forgotten” cluster of volcanic eruptions in 1108-1110 CE”. Even to this point, finding evidence was extremely difficult and as you can tell, the most important details and information have apparently disappeared.

The scientific team had to follow several different approaches to finding the most promising evidence that would link the disappearance of the Moon in 1110 with volcanoes.

In their research of Medieval records, they found 13 mentions of the terrible conditions in Europe around 1110 that included crop failure and famine.


These factors suggest that the cause could have been a series of volcanic eruptions. However, the only eruption they were able to connect to the case was that of Mount Asama in Japan. And still, Japan is more than simply far away from Europe in order to cause such climatic changes for years to come.

Additional research was conducted on similar cases from the centuries after the 1110 Moon disappearance. Scientists suggest that this has happened on other occasions after major volcanic eruptions like the 1600 Huaynaputina or the 1883 Krakatau.

In the end, the most constructive evidence came from ice cores and tree rings from that same period. For now, scientists will stick to the theory that Mount Asama caused the disappearance of the Moon in 1110 or at least it could have given the beginning of a series of eruptions. However, if these occurred, why were they never mentioned in historical accounts.

Practically everything was being documented in the Middle Ages but why is there no mention of such a devastating series of events apart from the aftereffects that include failed crops and long-lasting famine.


The capabilities of modern science are outstanding when you consider that all this we now know was deducted mainly from the ice core layers from 900 years ago. It is absolutely unimaginable what scientists nowadays do to fill all the small knowledge gaps in history piece by piece and who knows what curious events will be uncovered in the future.

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Dockrill, P. (n.d.). In 1110, The Moon Vanished From The Sky. We May Finally Know Why.
Guillet, S., Corona, C., Ludlow, F., Oppenheimer, C., & Stoffel, M. (2020, April 21). Climatic and societal impacts of a “forgotten” cluster of volcanic eruptions in 1108-1110 CE.
Specktor, B. (2020, May 15). Moon’s mysterious disappearance 900 years ago finally gets an explanation.


Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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