The Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017
Please forgive the title. It is a bit misleading, but this particular eclipse is going to put much of the good ole USA in premium seating for one of the Creator’s most spectacular heavenly displays.
A total solar eclipse is an event that occurs when the orbit of the moon places itself directly between the Earth and the Sun. When they line up perfectly, the surface of the Sun is covered. This is known as a “total” eclipse. This allows the Sun’s corona to be visible from our earthly vantage point. The Sun’s plasma can be seen emanating off its surface making it visible at the periphery of the moon.
The reason for it being called the Great American Solar Eclipse has to do with the vantage point from where the “total” aspects of this heavenly dance can be seen.
As this map indicates, this eclipse cuts a path directly across the heartland of America. Those of us in South Florida will be able to see a partial eclipse. Not as spectacular as the total variety, but nonetheless impressive.
An eclipse is a relatively short event lasting 7 minutes, 31 seconds. The total eclipse can be viewed from an area that is 250 km (155.3 miles) wide. The partial eclipse can be observed from a much wider vantage point.
This astronomical phenomenon has been recorded from acient times. These occurances were often interpreted by pagan groups as being a bad omen. Many times historical events are linked to eclipse dates. A Syrian clay tablet, in the Ugaritic language, records a solar eclipse which occurred on March 5, 1223 B.C. Chinese historical records of solar eclipses date back over 4,000 years and have been used to measure changes in the Earth’s rate of spin. By the 1600s, European astronomers were publishing books with diagrams explaining how lunar and solar eclipses occurred.
The Bible has several verses that are interpreted as referring to solar and lunar eclipses. Whether or not they will find their fulfillment in a natural phenomenon like the eclipse or some supernatural fulfillment, that cannot be known for certain. What is known is that many of them are related to eschatology (the study of end times), Eze. 32:7; Joel 2:31; Matt. 24:29; Rev. 6:12. 8:12.
Whatever you decide to do with regard to observing this event, you should be very careful about the method you choose to see an eclipse. Looking at a total or partial solar eclipse without the proper eye protection can cause permanent retinal damage. There are special glasses being sold that you can us, but I caution everyone that sometimes manufacturers lie or exaggerate the efficacy of their products. Make sure you are purchasing International Organization for Standardization (IOS) “certified solar filter glasses.” There are safe ways to observe the eclipse by making a safe DYI (do it yourself) pinhole projector. Instructions for this are available online.
Whatever method you choose, remember that NASA and other organizations will produce top quality films and pictures of this event. That is the safest way to observe what can only be described as another example of:
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork, Psalm 19:1
Submitting by Steve Rowitt, Ph.D.