Friday, February 27, 2009


We all experience coincidences almost every day, some small and insignificant, some large and thought provoking. However, there can't be many which can compare, either because of the infinitesimaly small probablity of occurrence or awe-inspiring wonder, with the Solar Eclipse.

Consider this:

Earth's Moon has a diameter of roughly 3500km

The Sun has a diameter of roughly 1,400,000km

1400000 divided by 3500 = 400

So the Sun has a diameter 400 times larger than that of the Moon.

The distance of the Moon from the Earth is roughly 375,000km

The distance of the Sun from the Earth is roughly 150,000,000km

150 million divided by 375,000 = 400

So the Sun is 400 times further away than the Moon
(I have rounded the exact scales for the sake of simplicity)

To reiterate that:

The Sun is 400 times bigger than the Moon but also 400 times further away.

As you can see this amazing set of circumstances concerning the relative sizes and distances between the Earth, Moon and Sun give rise to the incredible phenomena of Solar Eclipses.

The Moon and the Sun both appear to be THE SAME SIZE from our perspective here on Earth even though the Sun is vastly bigger. In fact, during an eclipse, the Moon blocks out the Sun so perfectly that only sunlight travelling through valleys on the moons surface can be seen!

This is what enables what's known as the diamond ring effect seen in the photo above.

What a coincidence. The chances of the situation WE have actually arising on a planet have got to be sooooooo tiny as to be virtually incalculable. In other
words, How lucky are we?!?

And as if that wasn't enough, this hasn't been the case throughout all of Earth's history. The Moon is actually steadily moving away from Earth at about 3.8cm a year so 200 million years ago for example, the Moon would have been too close and too big, more than blocking out the Sun entirely. Conversely, in a few hundred million years the Moon will be too far away and too small to cover the whole Sun during an eclispe.

So, not only have we got the relative distances/sizes to perplex us, but also the fact that intelligent life (us) just happened to evolve within this comparably small period of Earth's history when the Moon appears just right to enable the amazing curiosity of a Solar eclipse to be possible!

Another point of interest is the fact that we have an abnormally large Moon and how this may go some way as to explain why life even evolved here in the first place. The stabalizing effect the Moon's gravity has on the Earth's wobble may well have played a part in the creating the stable environment life requires to evolve, or at least increased the chances of it happening.

phew! Its a lot to take in I know and boggles my mind thinking about it but believe it or not, it gets weirder!

During Solar eclipses, it has been recorded that a pendulum's motion will be perturbed pretty drastically in a way which is not explainable using standard
gravitational models. Known as the 'Allais effect', the phenomenon is controversial and widely disputed amoungst the astrophysical community.

Throughout Human history Solar eclipses have been a source of wonder and amazement. Linked with prophecy, divine activity and a vast array of spiritual events, signs and miracles. Personally, I can think of no other coincidence that even comes close to matching this in scope (unless you get started on Anthropic principle), and it's no wonder the event has always been revered.

It all seems a little bit too much doesn't it? Maybe TOO MUCH of a coincidence for there not to be somthing profound or supernatural behind it...

Imagine some time in the future, if and when we finally become part of 'the Galactic community' if there is such a thing, Alien races will travel to Earth to witness the amazingly unlikely spectacle known as an eclipse. They will gaze in wonder and admiration, all the while envious of our tiny blue dot and how incredibly lucky we are to be on it.


Let the wild speculation commence!


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