WHEN THE MOON COVERS THE SUN
The Most Important Solar Eclipses in History
This August, the United States is the site of an incredible total solar eclipse. The Great American Eclipse will occur on August 21, 2017, and there’s a reason people are so excited. Solar eclipses have been occurring since the moon first began to orbit the Earth, but no matter how many times they happen, each one proves to be just as awesome as the last. There are many wild stories around these magnificent events, and some cite solar eclipses as evil omens or the result of angry gods. While these are all pure superstition, there have been times when a celestial event occurring hundreds of miles from Earth directly impacted our planet. Check out a few of history’s greatest solar eclipses. OffWithTheir Heads (2136 B.C.E.) One frightful day in the 22nd century, a dragon tried to eat the sun — at least, that’s how the Chinese legend of Hi and Ho starts out. Hi and Ho were royal astronomers who got drunk and failed to warn the emperor of a solar eclipse. As the moon began to block out the light, it looked to the people of ancient China like some massive beast was devouring the sun. They banged drums and made loud noises to scare away the dragon. After the sun returned, the emperor was furious and ordered Hi and Ho to be executed for not warning him of the dragon’s approach. This legend still delights modern astronomers as a cautionary tale to never drink and observe. Discovering an Element (August, 18, 1868)
high-pitched. It was first discovered by French astronomer Jules Janssen while he observed a solar eclipse through a prism in 1868. Janssen noted a bright yellow light emanating from the sun, which had never been recorded before. Though Janssen thought the light was caused by sodium, English astronomer Norman Lockyer realized it was, in fact, a new element, which he named helium, after the Greek sun god, Helios. It would be another 27 years before helium was discovered on Earth. Einstein’s Eclipse (May 29, 1919) In 1916, when physicist Albert Einstein published his theory of general relativity, he proposed the pull of gravity from any body of mass could curve space itself. Einstein predicted that, due to general relativity, light does not travel in a perfectly straight line, but instead curves ever so slightly. This theory seemed impossible to test with the current technology, until astronomers from Great Britain devised an experiment to measure light coming from the Hyades star cluster during a total solar eclipse in 1919. They were astounded to find Einstein’s predictions were correct, proving general relativity. Einstein appeared on the front page of newspapers around the world and became a celebrity of theoretical physics. Solar eclipses are incredible events that often inspire amazing stories. If possible, don’t miss out on the Great American eclipse this August. Witness the awesome sight for yourself.
Helium is one of the most abundant elements in the universe. This light gas causes balloons to float and makes your voice
Made with FlippingBook - Online magazine maker