[ so·lil·o·quy – the act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud when by oneself or regardless of any hearers ]
Did you see it? What a sight! I was very lucky to be stood in one of the few places with no cloud and so had a fantastic view of the moon passing across the sun and creating that smile. While it didn’t plunge us into darkness anywhere near as much as I’d imagined (just a strange blue/purple hue to everything), it was still quite something to witness the result of an incredible number of scientific coincidences.
I have to admit that while I did indeed get very excited about seeing the 90-ish-percent solar eclipse in Lincoln on Friday morning (I haven’t been this interested in science for a long time!), I did find the whole thing a little funny. I mean; one of the greatest solar sights this decade, and we all stood on the bridge outside my office with our backs to it. Looking at the sun is incredibly dangerous, and there was loads of advice around trying to make sure we didn’t do it – even with sunglasses or welding masks. As a good girl, especially when it comes to my eyes (I don’t take any chances), I used a make-shift pinhole viewer a colleague fashioned for me out of some old blue card to see what was going on in the sky. It worked, and we got a great view through a tiny pin prick hole of the upside down smile (upside down and back to front, apparently).
Lots of people commented that the eclipse made them feel a bit emotional. Others that it gave them a new energy. For me it was certainly a reminder of the power the sun has for us as humans, and how we are very good at taking it for granted.
To the ancient Chinese, solar eclipses were dragons devouring the sun. To the Czechs they were ice giants, bitter enemies of the sun, winning their battle and conquering it. To the Romans, they meant that the sun was poisoned and dying. But of course we know now that a solar eclipse is the result of a number of scientific coincidences – occurring when the moon, which is 400 times smaller than the sun, passes in front of it exactly 400 times closer to us. The sun is not being extinguished, as per the old myths and legends, it is simply hidden, creating a shadow. The sun shines as brightly as ever during an eclipse, even if we cannot see its light.
In life we often get stuck looking into the darkness. Feelings of doubt and despair cast a shadow over our happiness and we can struggle to turn our faces back into the warmth of the sun. We turned our backs on the real solar eclipse to protect our eyes. In life, turn your back on the dark times and relish the light and heat of the good times.
How did the solar eclipse make you feel? Could you see it from where you were? Did it make you excited for space science? Did it offer you some spiritual guidance? I’d love to know.
If you missed it, the next partial eclipse in the UK will be in 2022 (just 35%).
Life is all about the journey. See the light.