The day the sun goes dark:
If the Moon were in a perfectly circular orbit, a little closer to the Earth, and in the same orbital plane, there would be total solar eclipses every month. However, since the Moon’s orbit is tilted at more than 5 degrees to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, its shadow usually misses Earth. The Moon’s orbit must cross Earth’s ecliptic plane in order for an eclipse (both solar as well as lunar) to occur. In addition, the Moon’s actual orbit is elliptical, often taking it far enough away from Earth that its apparent size is not large enough to block the Sun entirely. The orbital planes cross each other at a line of nodes resulting in at least two, and up to five, solar eclipses occurring each year; no more than two of which can be total eclipses. However, total solar eclipses are rare at any particular location because totality exists only along a narrow path on the Earth’s surface traced by the Moon’s shadow or umbra.
An eclipse is a natural phenomenon. However, in some ancient and modern cultures, solar eclipses were attributed to supernatural causes or regarded as bad omens. A total solar eclipse can be frightening to people who are unaware of its astronomical explanation, as the Sun seems to disappear during the day and the sky darkens in a matter of minutes.
Since looking directly at the Sun can lead to permanent eye damage or blindness, special eye protection or indirect viewing techniques are used when viewing a solar eclipse. It is technically safe to view only the total phase of a total solar eclipse with the unaided eye and without protection; however, this is a dangerous practice, as most people are not trained to recognize the phases of an eclipse, which can span over two hours while the total phase can only last a maximum of 7.5 minutes for any one location. People referred to as eclipse chasers or umbraphiles will travel to remote locations to observe or witness predicted central solar eclipses.
We can thank the dark side of the sun, as it were, for increasing our scientific understanding:
In ancient times, and even more recently, people associated eclipses with bad omens:
- As recently as 2010, during the near annular (very large partial eclipse), out of fear, people stayed home. Few were on the streets, restaurants and hotels saw a dip in business (many customers preferred not to eat during the event), and most schools closed when students did not show up.
- In Cambodia, in 1995, instead of screaming and banging during a solar eclipse, soldiers shot into the air to scare the mythic dragon from the sky. It was reported that the only scattered casualties were from the bullets.
- In Baja, California, in 1991, astronomers were surprised by the weeping and wailing of hotel staff, who were terrified by the onset of darkness.
Of course, we’re more enlightened-or are we?
Conspiracy theorists have been predicting for decades that Nibiru – also referred to as Planet X – is going to collide with Earth and destroy it. Fortunately for us, their doomsday predictions have never actually been right (so far).
An unseen planet debunked by NASA, Nibiru was first mentioned in 1976 by Zecharia Sitchin in his cult book ‘The 12th Planet’. The mystery planet is apparently home to a race of ancient aliens called the Annunaki, whom Sitchin credited with creating the human race.
Nigel Watson, author of the UFO Investigations Manual, supports Sitchin’s idea, explaining: “Nibiru collided with a planet called Tiamat that was situated between Mars and Jupiter. The result was the creation of the asteroid belt and planet Earth.
“Nibiru is populated by the Anunnaki, an advanced humanoid race, who visited Earth thousands of years to mine gold in Africa.
“As an outcome of needing workers to carry out these mining operations they used genetics to create Homo Sapiens”.
So if the aliens show up, be prepared. Otherwise, just enjoy the two minutes of darkness!