Six Things to Know About Solar Eclipses
Beginning at 11:43 a.m. Aug. 21, the sun will leave us.
At 1:13 p.m., it will be 90.6 percent hidden by the shadow of the moon. At 2:41 p.m., things return to normal. We don’t get the best seat in the house here in Northwest Arkansas, but solar eclipses are still amazing. Here are six things to keep in mind while viewing what ancients thought was a harbinger of the end of the world.
1. E Does in Fact = MC²
Sir Arthur Eddington verified Einstein’s theory of relativity during an eclipse in 1919 by observing how starlight bent around the sun. Nowadays, scientists use more sophisticated methods to verify Einstein’s theory, including the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), which allowed them to see ripples in the fabric of spacetime. Source: NASA
3. People Stopped Fighting, and Science was Born
Thales of Miletus predicted a solar eclipse that occurred during a battle between the Lydians and the Medes on May 28, 585 BCE. Greek historian Herodotus wrote about it: “They ceased from fighting and both were the more zealous to make peace.” Science writer Isaac Asimov suggested the eclipse was the earliest event scientists can date to the day, making it the birth of science itself. Sources: Journal for the History of Astronomy, Isaac Asmiov’s Guide to Earth and Space.
4. Fayetteville Gets Totaled
Fayetteville has been in the path of one total solar eclipse in its history (as Fayetteville): Nov. 30, 1834, 37 years before the University of Arkansas was founded and 41 years before Old Main was built. It won’t happen again until Aug. 12, 2045, and then April 14, 2591. Source: NASA.
5. No More than Seven
The maximum number of eclipses (solar and lunar) possible in any given calendar year is seven. The last time that happened was 1982, the next time will be 2038. Source: EarthSky.org.
6. Your Next Chance
The last partial solar eclipse visible in Fayetteville was Oct. 23, 2014; the next will be Oct. 14, 2023.