I saw my first solar eclipse last Friday morning, albeit via the BBC’s live coverage. I didn’t have the special solar specs, which are essential I discovered after being blinded when I tried to stare at the sun (keep in mind I had just woken up, so my faculties weren’t so sharp). Yet I successfully managed the projection method, by holding a colander in front of the sun to create a myriad of crescent moon shadows.
My favourite part of the solar eclipse was seeing Bailey’s Beads, a line of jewel-like lights on the edge of the moon (seen in either second or third contact). This is when the sun shines through valleys in the moon, illustrating the rugged lunar landscape. I won’t lie, I think this is super cool – it makes the moon seem so much closer than it is, so much more real. Reflecting the cosmic order and the need for balance puts our recent fads and issues dramatically into perspective.
Before solar eclipses were scientifically understood, people created myths to justify the disappearance of the sun. Some involved angry gods, beheaded demons and even giant frogs, but most possessed a general apocalyptic sentiment. In contrast, I like the African myth from the Batammaliba people of Benin and Togo, who regarded a solar eclipse as the sun and moon fighting because of their disputes, and so the only way to stop them was to forgive and reconcile.
Space is a growing interest of mine, with most to all of my knowledge based on galactic fiction. In particular, Joss Whedon’s Firefly, the TV show which seamlessly merges witty cowboys with spaceships and interplanetary feuds. Japan also reminds me of space and futuristic affairs. From reading surreal literature to watching anime, I see traditions fusing with modernity with no loss of history, but a gain in new innovations, fashions and an exciting hope for the future.
The recent explorations on Mars is very exciting, as the more we know about the universe, the more our perspectives are cracked open just that little bit more. Space spares no room for prejudice as it binds us together as equal inhabitants of Earth.
The cover picture taken by the European Space Agency’s Proba-2 satellite.
Witness the full eclipse here, with commentary from the actual experts on the matter: www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-31965456