Anniversary Post: the First Eclipse

Solar EclipseOn this day in 3340 BCE, the first solar eclipse was noted. And it was in Ireland of all places. There is much dispute about this. But what the hell: it’s a good excuse to talk a bit of eclipses. When I was younger, I always wondered why it was we didn’t have solar eclipses on every new moon and lunar eclipses on every full moon.

The reason is because the solar system is really a mess — everything is tilted this way and that. So things have to line up just so in order to get an eclipse. It just so happens that we have very special solar eclipses here on earth because the apparent sizes of the moon and the sun are almost exactly the same. If you were on the moon, you would experience a whole lot more solar eclipses — they would last longer than our eclipses, but they would also not be so stunning in their near perfection.

Regardless, it isn’t surprising that we humans would would have been making notes about eclipses for thousands of years. If this Irish notation of a solar eclipse is right, it is around the time that humans first developed written language. In other words: as soon as humans started writing things down, they were writing about eclipses. Because they are amazing.

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