Why Total Solar Eclipses Are Total Coincidences

Jun 26, 2017

By Tom Metcalfe

Total solar eclipses, when the moon nearly perfectly covers the sun, have fascinated humans since at least the time of the earliest civilizations. Some of the very oldest historical records, written on clay tablets in Babylonia around 2,500 years ago, are devoted to observations of eclipses. Astronomers at the time interpreted the events as omens of disaster, while folktales around the world typically explained eclipses as a conflict between the sun and a devouring celestial dragon, wolf or rat.

A few solar eclipses have even changed human history — for instance, by affecting the outcome of a pivotal ancient battle, or by inspiring scientists as they unlocked the secrets of humanity’s place in the universe. That’s a lot of responsibility for a phenomenon that astronomers sometimes describe as “a celestial coincidence.” After all, that’s what a total solar eclipse really is: a total coincidence.

“The [diameter of the] moon is almost exactly 400 [times] smaller than the sun’s diameter, and the sun is almost exact 400 times further away than the moon,” said Mark Gallaway, an astronomer at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. “The consequence of this is that the angular diameter, or the size we see, of the sun and the moon in the sky are almost exactly the same.”

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4 comments on “Why Total Solar Eclipses Are Total Coincidences

  • The [diameter of the] moon is almost exactly 400 [times] smaller than
    the sun’s diameter, and the sun is almost exact 400 times further away
    than the moon… a phenomenon that astronomers sometimes describe as
    “a celestial coincidence”.

    Those are astronomers who are suppressing their innate knowledge of God.

    Coincidence? Damian Ziegler of the Discovery Institute for the Advancement of True Astronomical Science has calculated that there are some 10^57 possible sun/moon apparent diameter ratios, any one of which would negate this so-called coincidence. Obviously, the solar system is fine tuned for perfect solar eclipses.

    Such a fine tuned design requires a designer, proving God exists. QED.

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  • @OP – “The consequence of this is that the angular diameter, or the size we see, of the sun and the moon in the sky are almost exactly the same.”

    Actually, due to the slightly elliptical orbit of the Moon, there is a variation in the relative diameters, but within the time span of thousands of years human existence, the variations have been within the range making this possible. There are however at present, annular eclipses when the Moon is at apogee (the highest part of its orbit).

    @OP- link – Such a nearly perfect match wasn’t always the case, however. Because the distance between the moon and the Earth is slowly changing, solar eclipses looked very different millions of years ago — and they will again, tens of millions of years in the future.

    “It’s a beautiful coincidence — [complex?] life has been on Earth for about 400 million years, and we’re living in this little window of time where this is happening, which is pretty amazing,” Gallaway told Live Science.

    Back in the time of the early Earth, when the day was about 5 hours long and the Moon appeared as an enormous fiery globe, total eclipses would have lasted much longer.
    In the future eclipses will become more annular as the Moon continues to recede into a higher orbit.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_February_26,_2017
    An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon’s apparent diameter is smaller than the Sun’s, blocking most of the Sun’s light and causing the Sun to look like an annulus (ring). An annular eclipse appears as a partial eclipse over a region of the Earth thousands of kilometres wide.

    Stardusty Psyche #1
    Jun 27, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Such a fine tuned design requires a designer, proving God exists. QED.

    It has of course, only been [roughly] “fine tuned” for the 6,000 years since God created it by magic as the centre of the universe, and then added the Sun and Moon during the following days! 🙂

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  • @OP link – Although some solar eclipses have played an important role in science,
    such as the 1919 eclipse that helped verify Einstein’s theory of general relativity,
    these celestial events don’t always hold much scientific interest today, he said.

    “Eclipses are one of the most well-examined things in science.
    We know how they work, and to be honest,
    we’re just going out there because we like to see eclipses,” Gallaway said.

    The reason why scientists don’t take as much interest in eclipses from Earth, is because the Sun is now mainly studied by satellites using direct solar observations, or by creating artificial eclipse and coronal observations, using blocking disks in front of the cameras on the probes.

    https://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/

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  • Stardusty Psyche #1
    Jun 27, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Damian Ziegler of the Discovery Institute for the Advancement of True Astronomical Science has calculated that there are some 10^57 possible sun/moon apparent diameter ratios, any one of which would negate this so-called coincidence.

    Ah! the asserted truth of TRRrrrooo Astronomy!

    The “Discovery Institute” does not do “calculations”! – It does “magic numbers plucked out of the air” to impress and boggle the minds of gullible followers! –
    The clue is in the junk they claim is “evidence”, and the pseudoscience they claim is physics!

    There is almost an infinite number of possible ratios of diameters of stars planets and moons in the galaxies, but only some give long term stable configurations!

    In the history of the Earth – Moon system, our moon is gradually spiralling into a higher orbit due to the law of conservation of angular momentum, (as tidal drag slows rotations producing synchronicity of the Moon and lengthening days on Earth), it is inevitable that at some time there will be a range of near circular orbits where the apparent diameters match.

    They did not match when a closer Moon orbited the young Earth, and they will not match as the Moon continues to move into a higher orbit and appears smaller in relation to the Sun.

    https://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/files/releases/lunlaser.txt

    Ocean tides on Earth have a direct influence on the
    moon’s orbit.
    Measurements show that the moon is receding
    from Earth at a rate of about 3.8 centimeters (1.5 inches)
    per year.

    Precise positions of the laser ranging observatories
    on Earth are slowly drifting as the crustal plates on Earth
    drift. The observatory on Maui is seen to be drifting away
    from the observatory in Texas.

    Lunar ranging has greatly improved scientists’
    knowledge of the moon’s orbit, enough to permit accurate
    analyses of solar eclipses as far back as 1400 BC.


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