The Solar Eclipse: Science, Astrology, and Myths

graphic design of a solar eclipse and woman in solar glasses gazes up
Luz Media

A solar eclipse of the sun will occur on April 8th, 2024 where it will be visible across Mexico and the United States, from Northern Mexico to Maine. The further South you go, the more visible the solar eclipse will be. The Hill Country of Texas and the Mexican states of Sinaloa, Coahuila, and Durango are the areas that offer the most visibility, but you can still catch the solar eclipse from cities in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Indianapolis, Ohio, and New York.

Cities in areas outside of the solar eclipse’s path of totality will still be able to see a percentage of it, from 17 to 63 percent. For example, Southern Californians will see a partial solar eclipse of up to 57% the farther south they are. You can check how much of the solar eclipse you’ll be able to witness on the National Eclipse website.

Whether you catch a total or partial solar eclipse, always ensure safety first - never look directly at the sun! Make sure to follow established guidance for the safest and best eclipse watching. Alternatively, you can tune into live coverage of the solar eclipse on platforms like Hulu and Disney+, or cable channels like ABC, NBC, and CNN.

Solar eclipses are among the most fascinating celestial events surrounded by enormous mystique. For thousands of years, civilizations across the world have interpreted solar eclipses in their own unique ways and integrated them into their religions, culture, and agricultural practices, so it’s no wonder they’re surrounded by myths and mystique. Not to mention solar eclipses also inspire scientific wonder and spirituality.

So what makes solar eclipses so fascinating? We explore.

Total solar eclipses have inspired fear

Eclipse photographyPhoto by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash

In ancient times, a total solar eclipse was quite a scary thing to witness and there were many superstitions around it. Many cultures interpreted total solar eclipses as a sign of doom. Some even believed that they represented battles between celestial beings. From the Chippewa tribes shooting flaming arrows to the heavens to ward off disaster to Norse myths about Loki's antics causing eclipses, fear was the most common reaction to total solar eclipses.

Solar eclipses also had romantic interpretations

man and woman kissing under the sunPhoto by Alejandra Quiroz on Unsplash

At the other end of the spectrum, some cultures weren’t afraid of solar eclipses but actually had romantic interpretations of them. For example, in Australian Aboriginal mythology, the Sun and Moon represented lovers, so a solar eclipse meant that they were coming together. German and Tahitian myths also interpreted solar eclipses as moments of intimacy between celestial partners. That’s much better than the doom and gloom take, in our humble opinion.

Solar eclipses follow predictable cycles

solar eclipse photographyPhoto by Andrew Preble on Unsplash

As it turns out, eclipses can be quite predictable. Every 18 months or so, the Moon will get in the way of the Sun somewhere on Earth. Partial eclipses are the most common, where the Moon only covers a part of the Sun, and we get at least 2 of them per year. Total solar eclipses are the most rare, but they still happen every 2 or 3 years somewhere on Earth. Whether we can observe them or not depends on the location, and most of them happen in remote areas, often over the ocean.

There are different types of solar eclipses

Photo by Fahd Hasis on Wikimedia Commons

Yes, that’s right! There are four types of solar eclipses: total, partial, annular, and hybrid. What makes each of them different is the way the Sun, Moon, and Earth align, though it also depends on the location from where you’re watching. Whatever type of solar eclipse you happen to witness, it will be a unique experience that doesn’t happen very often.

The duration of solar eclipses varies a lot

May 20 2012 Solar Eclipse near Sunset Beach / Huntington Beach, CA - timelapse / composition of "phases" of the eclipse during the approximate 2 hour duration.

Photo by jimnista on Flickr

Solar eclipses may be predictable, but it’s very difficult to tell how long they will last. A total solar eclipse usually lasts a few minutes, but in some rare cases, they’ve lasted 7 minutes or more. What’s certain is that even if a solar eclipse only lasts a few seconds, watching its effect and the kind of eerie spectacle that it offers is unforgettable and awe-inspiring.

Solar eclipses have been important throughout history

silhouette of rock formationPhoto by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

A surprising thing about solar eclipses is that they’ve left quite a mark on history. Why? Because they’ve altered certain events in unexpected ways. For example, the ancient Battle of Halys, which is known as the Battle of the Eclipse, was actually interrupted by a sudden solar eclipse in 585 BCE. Eclipses have been shaping history in very interesting ways, so it’s fun to look back and see how they’ve led to certain outcomes.

Solar eclipses offer valuable scientific insights

telescope pointed at the skyPhoto by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

Solar eclipses not only have cultural significance, they’re also invaluable in the scientific community. For example, solar eclipses have helped researchers observe the outer atmosphere of the Sun, which has helped to expand our understanding of solar physics. Solar eclipses offer amazing opportunities to uncover more knowledge, so they’re exciting events for scientists studying the nature of space.

Solar eclipses offer moments for introspection

woman sitting on brown wooden dock during sunsetPhoto by freestocks on Unsplash

If you’re into astrology and spiritual wellness, solar eclipses are important moments to look out for. They’re considered to be times of intense energy, making them great moments for introspection and release. They’re also interpreted as times of profound change and transformation, so if you’ve been carrying something for a while, solar eclipses are an invitation to relax, let go, and embrace the new.

They’re ripe for personal reflection

woman sitting on bench over viewing mountain at sunsetPhoto by Sage Friedman on Unsplash

Whether you go all out and watch solar eclipses through a telescope or just watch from your balcony, the moment is perfect for personal reflection and meditation. Solar eclipses can have quite a contemplative effect, so they can be deeply spiritual experiences. They invite us to pause and reflect on our place in the universe, and we can find a lot of meaning in that. Especially in times when we feel disconnected from everything.

Solar eclipses can affect animals

silhouette photo of flying birdsPhoto by Lindz Marsh on Unsplash

If you have pets, you should keep an eye on them during a solar eclipse because it can cause some animals to be confused. This effect can be easily observed in birds. They will stop singing or tuck themselves away to sleep because they think it’s nighttime, and this can also happen with certain mammals! It’s nothing to worry about, just don’t be surprised if your pets start acting like it’s bedtime during a solar eclipse.

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