What does the eclipse mean?

Over the past week, in the run-up to today’s celestial version of sitting behind the guy with the big hat at the theater, I’ve been seeing a lot of “think piece” articles asking the clickbait question:

“What meaning does the eclipse have for us?”

 

In most cases, these questions will invoke some version of: “God’s Message For Us.” Occasionally, these paens to half-baked prophecy and “We’re Number Oneism” will say things like “this only happens here … but why?”

This assumptive rhetorical exercise ignores a couple of inconvenient facts. One, eclipses do not “only happen here,” and, two, they happen other places on our globe too. Places where the facsimiles of our prophetic hucksters are busy telling their true believers that their God or gods have something Very Important to Say Only to Them through this eclipse.

Now, never mind the fact that God could easily communicate in a way that doesn’t involve placing the 8-ball in front of the cue-ball for a couple hours… Is it possible, maybe, that an eclipse is just one of a countless number of amazing things that happen in our universe? Some of these things make our lives possible. Some don’t matter to us at all.

 

There are many others things that have nothing to do with astrophysics that do matter … a lot.

 

And that’s what I’m really thinking about this morning. In the grand scheme of things, the eclipse is interesting water cooler or social media chatter. For the myriad astrophysicists chasing the eclipse like hurricane hunters, there are a great many things that can be learned from the movement of celestial bodies. They will learn these things and, hopefully, teach some of those things to the rest of us.

In the meantime, here are a few things any of us can do today that will have a lot more meaning than anything philosophical we can “learn” from the eclipse.

  • Hug the people you love a little tighter before they head out the door.
  • Compliment something about someone else other than appearance.
  • Find a way to tolerate kale.
  • Pay a bill early.
  • Do something you’ve been putting off.
  • Start a vacation fund.
  • Finish something that you “never have time for.”
  • Say “no” and mean it.
  • Share your eclipse glasses with that person you know who never has time to do stuff like find eclipse glasses.

I’m sure you can think of several things to add to this way-too-brief list. Any of those things will mean a lot more, both to you and that other person, than any celestial game of peek-a-boo ever will.

 

In the meantime, the eclipse really is pretty cool, so you might want to check some of this stuff out:

Here’s an interesting video about eclipses in our solar system, courtesy of PBS and Physics Girl

For some interesting reading on the eclipse, check out these articles:

Cornell University Are there eclipses on other planets?

Live Science: Do Other Planets Have Solar Eclipses?

Astronomy Magazine: Total eclipse of a planet

EarthSky: Earth’s eclipses are special

 

 

*Eclipse photo is from TimeandDate.com

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