Wednesday, October 05, 2005


To me, very few things can surpass the sheer awe-inspiring nature of a total solar eclipse (TSE). Well, maybe I should say very few non-astronomical things. But then, most of those awesome things aren't as accessible and in-your-face as a TSE is - assuming that you have been at the right place at the right time.

I am sure there are things like watching a tornado pass by, or if you are lucky enough to be close to the eye of an enormous hurricane and survive. Things like this are awesome too but probably not as benign as a solar eclipse. There are superstitions which tend to make people feel a little discomfort when there's an eclipse, but if you get over that discomfort you can't help but be fascinated by the sheer beauty of it. AND feel extremely lucky to be given this opportunity to see a simple heavenly play of light and shadows. Lucky, because it is so incredibly unlikely to have a moon that is almost exactly the same apparent size as the sun. somewhat bigger (or somewhat closer) and the moon would've covered the corona to a much larger extent making the picture much less beautiful. A little smaller (or a little further away) and we would never have seen total solar eclipse, and even the best technology would probably never have made anyone realize just how beautiful a dark sun in a dark sky looks with only the stars and the sun's corona shining overhead. Not to forget the amazing "diamond ring" that we are treated to, which wouldn't be possible with a smaller/further moon.

An annular eclipse occured two days ago which inspired me to post this. APOD has an amazing high-resolution pic of this eclipse. See it here. But, again, TSE is TSE.. no annular eclipse can match it. sample the following pics... courtesy NASA and Luc Viatour via wikipedia.

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