Monday, February 23, 2015

Total Eclipse of the Heart and Mind By John Patrick Lestrade, Ph.D.

During our January meeting for NOSHA,  member John Patrick Lestrade, Ph.D., did a reading that we'd like to share for everyone who couldn't attend that day.

Please enjoy!

We all know that there are basically two types of eclipses: The lunar eclipse, when the Moon is behind the Earth and slips into the Earth’s dark shadow, and the better known solar eclipse, when the Moon blocks the Sun from our view. I thought that you might enjoy an intellectual gem for each of these celestial events.

Lunar Eclipses and the Heart. (We’re talking about real romance here, so you will want to take notes.)
Some of you may have never experienced a lunar eclipse. During this event, when the Moon finds itself in presumably total blackness behind the Earth, the Moon can still be visible to us. It shines with a deep red color. The first question is “Why is there light shining on it?”


This is the Earth (holding up a grapefruit), I am the Sun, and the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow. This side of the Earth is in daylight. This side is experiencing night. Everyone along this boundary is seeing sunrise while those on the opposite boundary experience sunset. If the Earth had no atmosphere, there would be a sharply delineated column of darkness forming the Earth’s shadow. But our atmosphere along these two boundaries bends the light so that some of it strikes the Moon and bounces back to us. Now why is the light reddened? Our skies are blue, which means that as light passes through our atmosphere the short, bluish, wavelengths are removed from the beam and scattered in all directions. The light rays that remain in the beam are made up of longer wavelengths and look reddish. So, when you are with someone you love, watching a dark, red lunar eclipse, impress them by saying that the light you are seeing is the light from ALL the sunrises and ALL the sunsets happening on Earth at that very moment.

Solar Eclipses and the Mind
You may have noticed that the Sun and the Moon appear to be the same size in the sky. Of course, the Sun is much larger than the Moon - almost a million miles wide for the Sun versus only 2,000+ miles across for the Moon. But the Sun doesn’t appear larger because it is much farther away. What’s interesting is that although the Sun is about 400 times wider than the Moon, it is also 400 times farther away. Thus both appear to be the same size!

So, during a Solar eclipse, when the Moon blocks out the Sun for the lucky few in the path of totality, the lunar and solar disks match up almost exactly. This leads to especially beautiful solar eclipses, where the Moon blocks the bright disk of the Sun but leaves the outer, very hot corona visible. Sometimes there are beads of sunlight that filter through the mountains on the lunar perimeter.

So think about this: Is the fact that our Moon is just the right size and distance from us a coincidence or can it have a deeper meaning for us? Remember that the Moon causes tides on the Earth. Evolutionary biologists will tell you the importance of tides and tidal pools in our evolution. So perhaps it is not just a coincidence that we have a Moon of the right size and distance relative to our star. Perhaps without it we wouldn't be here to enjoy these celestial displays.

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