May 21, 2012


We had a total eclipse this morning in Japan.  The kind with a full round ring is said to be very rare, only happens in Japan every 300 years or so.
I didn't really prepare anything, but just got up 20 minutes earlier, took a quick shower and went out to my balcony with a cereal bowl and looked up the sky.
It was my first time seeing an eclipse, and I could not waste the chance.

The reason I wanted to see the eclipse was not because it was the once-in-a-few-hundred-years opportunity, but because I wanted to know why people in ancient times were scared of eclipses.  When you read history books, you often come across expressions like "people thought it was a bad omen".  I wanted to see how ominous an eclipse might look like.  How mysterious it might be.



Well, for one thing, the sun was smaller and further away than I had thought :)  We don't really look at the sun that often and I don't really think about its size, but in my mental image, the sun is like a huge  When you actually see the sun directly, the ring was pretty small.  And it's pretty obvious but it doesn't get dark all of a sudden.
It's hard to miss the evidence that something is gradually covering the sun, and logically speaking, that "something" has to be the moon.  Even though people believed that the earth was the center of the universe, they had to know there are the sun and the moon in the sky.  They could've done the math, right?
I really couldn't get why those people used to be scared of the eclipses...

That's what I found out this morning.  Pretty interesting.

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