Eclipses reveal a comforting clockwork in our chaotic universe | Trending Viral hub

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Eclipses reveal a comforting clockwork in our chaotic universe

Eclipses bring the future into sharp focus, or at least a small portion of it.

A wide-angle spotlight focused on a clock leaning against a wall in a dark space, casting a sharp shadow on the wall and surface behind the clock.
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MirageC/Getty Images

How clearly can you imagine the year 2866? It is probably a dark vision at best; after all, it is eight and a half centuries away. It is as far in the future as the Crusades were in the past. This summer Paris will host the Olympic Games, something that in theory will be held every four years; Doing the math, we can predict that the games will also take place, or at least ought will take place in 2864 (“The Games of the CCXLIII Olympiad”). Dare we assume that there will also be a presidential election in the United States in 2864, and that a round of midterm elections will be held in 2866?

During such vast periods of time, our vision is inherently blurry. Will humans have colonized the solar system by then, or perhaps He even ventured to the stars? Or will climate change, or some other natural or man-made disaster, be our uninhabitable planet? Willpower Killer robots rule the Earth.—the “bad” timeline of the terminator Do movies come to life? Such reflections remind me the old saying (attributed to Yogi Berra or physicist Niels Bohr): “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

But here is something that can say about the year 2866:


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We know that a total solar eclipse will be visible from New York City on the morning of July 3 of that year. And we can be much more precise than that: we know that the dark part of the moon’s shadow, called the umbra, will begin to sweep over the city starting at 10:31:26 a.m., and that its totality will last exactly two minutes and 43 seconds (and if we specified a specific point in New York, we could be even more precise). While Manhattan lies entirely within the “path of totality,” the ribbon of land (or sea) where the moon completely covers the face of the sun during a total eclipse, Staten Island straddles the southern edge of the path, and many on the south coast of the island. They will drive (or fly in their hovercraft?) to the north coast, to experience a total eclipse instead of a partial one. (That means Rising sea levels of climate change have not flooded the region.) Meanwhile, those in other parts of the city may also strive to be a little further north, to be closer to the “center line” of the path of totality (where totality lasts longer). ). The center line will run through the small town of Newburgh, about 60 miles up the Hudson River.

Why get excited about solar eclipses? There’s the sheer spectacle, of course; Watching the sun disappear from the sky in broad daylight is an impressive sight, even if it is no longer accompanied by the fear that surely gripped our ancestors when such events occurred. in ancient times. For many, the total solar eclipse happening on Monday, April 8 of this year It will be a once-in-a-lifetime, or twice-in-a-lifetime, experience for those who witnessed the eclipse in 2017. In fact, some who watched that year’s event likely contracted eclipse fever, so to speak; Many likely began planning for the April event as soon as the sun reappeared behind the moon seven years ago. (I caught the error in my first total eclipse in 1991 and I feel privileged to have seen four more since then).

The April 8 eclipse may be one of the most viewed celestial events in history. This time, nearly 32 million people live within the path of totality, which will stretch from southwest to northeast, traversing Mexico, the United States and eastern Canada. The trail covers cities such as Mazatlán, Dallas, Little Rock, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Buffalo, with several major urban centers just along the way, including San Antonio, Austin, Cincinnati and Montreal.

This April’s event will surpass the 2017 eclipse not only in terms of potential observers but also in duration: Many people along the eclipse path will experience more than four minutes of totality, compared to a maximum of just two minutes and half in 2017. (Long enough, perhaps, to enjoy the show without equipment.) and take some photos.)

Beyond the spectacle, however, is what eclipses represent: a glimpse into the great celestial clockwork that ticks forward day by day, century by century, usually unnoticed. When we contemplate the future, we look through a dense fog. Nearby objects can be seen with rough outlines, while more distant landscapes are shrouded in fog. But with an eclipse, at least a small portion of the fog dissipates. Eclipses reveal the regularity at play in a universe that often appears chaotic.

While a bus or train schedule may disappoint you, an eclipse won’t. (The weather might, but that’s another matter.) If I lived in Indianapolis, for example, I would make sure that at 3 p.m. on April 8 I was sitting comfortably in a lawn chair facing southwest, knowing that the total The eclipse phase will begin at exactly 3:06:05 pm and will last three minutes and 50 seconds. Whatever happens, this we can be sure.

Hamlet lamented the “Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”—the numerous events that seem to confront us at random. We can’t predict them any better than we can guess next week’s lottery numbers. Eclipses fill a different psychological space. They show us that, even if our human future is impossible to clearly understand, the sun, moon and Earth follow a calendar. I think that one can find some comfort in that.

This is an article of opinion and analysis, and the opinions expressed by the author(s) are not necessarily those of American scientist.

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