Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Great American Eclipse

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place.” Psalm 8:3

They are calling it “The Great American Eclipse.”  The people that count these things say there are approximately 12.25 million people that live in the path of the totality of the eclipse from Oregon to South Carolina.  An additional 220 million people live within about a one-day drive to an area in the path of the totality.  All 50 states, even Hawaii since it started out in the Pacific Ocean, and North America were able to see at least a partial eclipse.  They are estimating that upwards of 7 million people may have traveled to some point along the path of totality.  Based on what numbers I can find that does not include international travelers who visited the United States in order to watch the eclipse. 

In looking into it I found out that total solar eclipses happen about every one to three years.  Many of them happen in areas that are sparsely populated or there are no people around to watch like in the polar regions and the Pacific Ocean.  There is also a frequency in eclipses called Soros that allow scientists to predict eclipses with similar geometries.  I also found a number of scientific reasons dealing with orbital angles and irregularities as to why we don’t have an eclipse every month during the New Moon.

Between the people that just wanted to check out the eclipse and the scientists who want to study the eclipse, either total or partial, experts are saying this is the most observed eclipse in the history of civilization.  With potentially close to 20 million watching from the path of totality and over 500 million (based on the population of North America) being able to witness at least a partial eclipse, it would be hard to argue that point.

I did not make the trip to path of the totality but the area I live in Colorado reached about 90% coverage of the Sun.  The picture above is about what the eclipse looked like in my area at its maximum coverage.  My current job has me working outside so we had the chance to periodically check out the progress of the eclipse from start to finish.  This was not my first experience in a partial eclipse.  There was an eclipse in 1979 that I remember watching which only reached about 40% coverage of the Sun in the town where I grew up.  Ironically that town was in the path of the totality this time around. 

I don’t remember much about the eclipse when I was younger but watching the moon slowly pass in front of the Sun was truly amazing to watch.  It is hard to describe what I felt when I looked up at the sliver of the Sun at its maximum coverage for the area I am in but if I were to try and describe how I feel after watching it, I would have to say I find myself awe struck. 

It's incredible to think about how God set everything in motion at creation that allows us to witness events like this. And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.(Gen 1:14-19)
With all the people that were able to watch this eclipse, how many just saw a spectacular celestial event? And how many saw a something of the magnificence of God’s creation?  The next time you look up at the night sky what will you see?  I have always enjoyed looking at the night sky, I can honestly say I will not look at it the same way again.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Psalm 19:1

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