The anticipation builds the closer we get to the “Big event” or the “Eclipse of the Century”. Savvy business people are cashing in big, for sure. The solar eclipse gives one a glimpse of our beautiful planet’s position relative to the sun.
But consider this:
At this very moment our earth is orbiting the sun at a “substantial speed”. Yet, we do not feel this effect (Cosmic Perspective, 6e, p. 14). Thanks to Coppernicus’ heliocentric model of planets revolving around the sun (instead of the accepted geocentric view proposed by Aristotle) as well as further work by the likes of Keppler and Galileo, we now appreciate our unique position in the entire universe (Wikipedia: heliocentrism), Nicolaus Copernicus).
It takes Earth one year to complete one revolution (orbit) around the sun. The moon completes its revolution around Earth every 27 days (space.com). A total solar eclipse occurs because the moon is directly between the sun and our planet, casting a shadow onto Earth. Moreover, such an event is rare because our moon has a 5° tilt as it orbits our planet and is thus, rarely on it’s same plane with both Earth and the sun. Else, we’d experience a total solar eclipse once a month (National Geographic). According to astronomy.com “the sun and moon have virtually the same angular size in our sky because the sun is about 400 times wider than the moon, but it’s also about 400 times farther away.”
While the total solar eclipse is taking the world by storm, consider Isaac Newton’s groundbreaking work on the foundations of classical mechanics and gravity. Or, James Clerk Maxwell’s truth on electromagnetism.
Said Albert Eistein of Maxwell’s contribution: “This change in the conception of reality is the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.”
Einstein then went on to build on their work and revolutionized the way we view reality itself. Whereas Newton believed that space and time were separate (and time is absolute) systems, Einstein argued they were not absolute in his Theory of General Relativity (science20.com). The following is a fantastic lecture on the topic:
Theory of General Relativity (no animation here, actual concepts and brute calculations)
The Total Solar Eclipse is just but one spectacular event in our solar system. As mentioned earlier, we’re rotating right now at blazing speed around the sun. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about the different physical laws in action as all the heavenly bodies are continuously in motion. Now here are some things to ponder upon:
What unleashed the Big Bang (rapid expansion of space) 13.8 billion years ago?
What is gravity as it pertains to Einstein’s view of the cosmos?
What is the region in our solar system called the “Magnetic Highway”?
What is a black hole?
Are we alone in the entire universe?
Finally, consider that it takes sunlight 8 minutes (light minutes to be precise) or so to reach Earth. This means that we don’t see things as they happen. Now imagine that of starlight. When we look at starlight, “we’re actually looking into the past.” It gets more awe-inspiring, “most of the stars we see with the naked eye at night are within a few hundred light years (spacetoday.org).”
I shall leave you with this clip: