A total eclipse of the sun is trending across the Continental United States, and millions of people are angling to witness this astronomical phenomenon. In fact, approximately 12 million Americans live in the direct path of totality and will experience 120 seconds of darkness during the daytime hours.
Fourteen states are in the path of totality, beginning in Oregon at 9:06 AM PDT and traversing Southeast, ending in South Carolina at 4:06 PM EDT.
I hope I do not have to advise readers to find the correct filter for viewing the eclipse, but if eclipse viewing 101 is required, let’s defer to NASA:
The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight.
An entire cheat sheet on viewing the eclipse is here.
The impact of solar eclipses across the globe have a rich and interesting history.
In ancient Babylonia, mathematicians and scientists accurately predicted these events. But as smart as they were, they still believed that the eclipse was a bad omen for royalty. Hence, they rounded up a commoner, sat him on the throne and waited for the sun to reappear. If nothing horrendous befell the faux king, the real king would reclaim the throne and order grapes peeled and wine to flow, and got back to the business of being a royal. The commoner was of course repaid in full, by instant death—just in case the bad juju was still attached.
China was also unforgiving back in the day, 2134 B.C. to be exact:
Court astronomers in ancient China met a similar fate when they failed to predict an eclipse, allegedly because they were drunk. The 4,000-year-old anecdote later inspired a poem that has been passed down for centuries:
“Here lie the bodies of Ho and Hi, Whose fate though sad was visible, Being hanged because they could not spy Th’eclipse which was invisible.”
Then there’s the unfortunate matter in Britain back in 1133. King Henry I went belly-up on the same day as a four-minute total eclipse, and chaos ensued (no big surprise in that century).
William of Malmesbury, in a document known as Historia Novella, describes the event thusly: “hideous darkness agitated the hearts of men. After the death, a struggle for the throne threw the kingdom into chaos and civil war.”
Hmm. I wonder if liberals will blame Trump for people driving into ditches or blinding themselves while staring into the sun?
There is also the story of the Turkey eclipse in 585 B.C. After fighting for a bloody 15 years, warring armies laid down their arms and called it quits, fearing the God’s had sent a message and they were about to feel his wrath. They agreed to sing songs and share mead (a drink of fermented honey and whatnot), and behave.
If only that could be the response after The Great American Total Eclipse (yes, it has its own name).
There have been dire warnings associated with this eclipse, and they are directed at Kim Jong Un as it coincides with the Jewish calendar month of Elul:
The eclipse will also be accompanied by other phenomena, Rabbi Berger noted. “There will be storms and animals will die.” But the prophecy’s most significant prediction carries a literal prophetic implication.
According to the rabbi, the suffering of the “kings of the East” clearly refers to “the despotic leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, and the loss he will suffer if he continues to taunt President [Donald] Trump.”
Well, that’s not creepy at all.
My fellow Americans, now is your chance to witness the best practical joke of trigonometry that Mother Nature has up her sleeve. And fear not as the darkness befalls the day, as George Harrison crooned, “here comes the sun, and I say It’s all right.” Doo doo doo doo doo do.