Eclipse of Reason

Yesterday's solar eclipse unfolded across a swath of Asia, triggering a spectrum of human emotion, from awe to fear. Providing a spectacular opportunity for scientists and photographers, the eclipse was likely a fascinating diversion for most of the population and, centuries after Galileo and Copernicus, a mystical event for others. While astronomers and mathematicians are able to accurately predict the time and location of their occurrence, solar eclipses are still accepted as omens by those who refuse to embrace science.

Due to a number of factors, including our distance from the sun, our moon's elliptical orbit (and its 5 degree variance from Earth's orbital plane), total solar eclipses occur somewhere on the globe every 1-2 years; however, for any given location, they are very rare, developing (on average) every 375 years. It is no wonder that, before the age of science, worldwide communication and global travel, a total solar eclipse might have instilled fear in the souls of humans who witnessed it.

Unfortunately, such provincial and mystical beliefs persist today, despite the remarkable advance of our scientific knowledge. Many choose to shun reason in favor of a personal, simplified view of the Universe. Wrapped in their cocoon of delusion, they protect themselves from the fickle world of nature.