Eclipse Facts and Fancies

By Harley White posted 04-05-2024 16:42

Eclipse Facts and Fancies
When the Moon moves between the Earth and Sun
then comes a rare happening that can stun,
above all a syzygy alliance,
the term from the Greek in astro-science.
Once solar eclipses in history
were viewed as a frightening mystery.
Cultural superstitions abounded
as rumors spread far and wide unfounded.
Many imagined the light was devoured
by dragons or beasts super empowered.
Herodotus wrote of one that brought peace
and made warring factions their battle cease.
The Chinese of old took drastic measures
against stargazers for drunken pleasures
that altered their senses though being skilled;
hence they failed in prediction and were killed.
A poem was penned to commemorate 
the court officials’ miserable fate,
which stated, ‘though sad, it was risible
that they could not spy the invisible’.
The death of England’s King Henry the first
prompted the notion of omens accursed
for rulers; ‘twas just after one had passed 
described as that “hideous darkness” vast.
There are tales and legends to tell galore.
But later on, researchers learned much more.
Curiously, helium was revealed
because of our star’s disk being concealed.
Yet the one that is “most important” called,
made Einstein famous, and left him enthralled,
was the shadowing of nineteen nineteen
when theory entered the proven scene.
Eddington relativity tested—
which to this day has never been bested
as general cosmic model supreme—
showing warped spacetime through bent starlight scheme.
In the total umbra it’s black as night
till the exiting shroud sets the Sol right.
At starting and finish as it proceeds
occurs the spectacle of Baily’s beads
with a ‘diamond ring’ that’s an extra boon
resulting from the terrain of the moon;
thereupon that stellar phenomenon
is gone, though its memory lingers on.
Thus, solar eclipses provide a chance
to astronomical knowledge advance
as well as to witness a great event,
one that is literally heaven-sent!
Then it’s back to our grinds and muddled minds
wherever our personal path unwinds…

 ~ Harley White

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Painting ~ “Astronomers Studying an Eclipse” ~ by Antoine Caron ~ 1571