Perhaps we’ve become so accustomed as a society to seeing things hyped beyond reason it is normal to feel jaded when something really special comes along. Here in northern Illinois, last summer’s total eclipse of the sun was indeed dramatic if you had time to get outside with the proper eyewear to look up at the sun being blocked out by the moon.
This morning from our vantage point on planet earth, the earth’s shadow blocked out the moon. I was vaguely aware that it would happen early in the morning. My daughter lamented that it would be taking place during her commute east on the interstate.
So I went out for a customary run at 6:15 or so and the moon appeared to have clouds blocking it out. So I didn’t get too excited. But then I ran a loop through a neighborhood and saw that it was not clouds, but the earth’s shadow that was cutting the moon in half.
I turned toward home to fetch my camera and tripod from the house. I’ve seen a lunar eclipse on several occasions before, including one blood red moon at my previous residence in Batavia. It was fun and spooky to watch.
Back at the house I snagged the tripod and stuck the camera into its clamp with a satisfying click. Then I walked outside and perched behind a thick set of pine trees in our back yard to block the southern wind.
The sun still reached the lower 4/5 of the moon as I watched it glow through the 150-600mm lens I use for photography. Slowly the crescent moon shrank and then dimmed. When the earth’s shadow completely covered the moon, it did not show completely orange as predicted. It vanished completely. I stared through the camera and waited and looked for some sign of the moon. But it was gone. It did not come back.
Many times I’ve waited while the sun sank through the same form of haze in the western sky. As long as the clouds are not so thick that no light can get through, the sun will turn into a flat yellow orange disk. Sometimes it even glows red. With a spotting scope you can stare at the sun in those moments and not have any ill effects on the eyes. Usually those black dots called sun spots will show. As described on a Wiki about sun spots,
“They are regions of reduced surface temperature caused by concentrations of magnetic field flux that inhibit convection. Sunspots usually appear in pairs of opposite magnetic polarity. Their number varies according to the approximately 11-year solar cycle.”
Think about all this for a moment. We are daily witnesses to the incredible forces of nature. Yet it’s only when a shadow or some haze gets in the way of our view of the moon or the sun that we stop to pay real attention.
Even then, some people prefer to deny what they’re truly seeing. Don’t laugh, because members of the Flat Earth Society are very seriously in denial about the fact that the earth is indeed a round sphere moving through space. The website LiveScience.com has gone to the trouble of assembling a summary of these beliefs and the credulity that drives them. Here is a quick take:
“Earth’s day and night cycle is explained by positing that the sun and moon are spheres measuring 32 miles (51 kilometers) that move in circles 3,000 miles (4,828 km) above the plane of the Earth. (Stars, they say, move in a plane 3,100 miles up.) Like spotlights, these celestial spheres illuminate different portions of the planet in a 24-hour cycle. Flat-earthers believe there must also be an invisible “antimoon” that obscures the moon during lunar eclipses.”
“The leading flat-earther theory holds that Earth is a disc with the Arctic Circle in the center and Antarctica, a 150-foot-tall wall of ice, around the rim. NASA employees, they say, guard this ice wall to prevent people from climbing over and falling off the disc.”
How interesting it is that the leading theory about a flat earth involves a wall of ice guarded by government employees. Sounds so familiar! Does that have any relation to other walls based on equally specious conspiracy theories and fears of the unknown?
And does such emphatic denial of science and reality exist in any other social sphere? Can we include the fact that between 30-40% of America’s population believe that the earth was created in seven literal 24-hour days, and that some believe the earth is only 6000-10000 years old?
To believe these things so earnestly people have to base their entire worldview on denial of facts staring them right in the eyes. Their grasp of reality, you might say, is eclipsed by their religious and/or political worldview. And they like it that way.
Even a simple glimpse at the moon provides evidence of the span of time the moon has sat out there in space. All those craters came from outside and inside the moon. The NASA website shares the history of this visible record of the moon’s long history:
“The moon’s surface is riddled with craters ranging in size and structural complexity, and billions of years ago before life emerged, the Earth looked the same way.
“The bottom line is, everything that happened on the moon happened on the Earth,” said David Kring, crater expert and team leader for Center for Lunar Science and Exploration. “The Earth used to look just like that.”
But Earth has several things the moon doesn’t — an atmosphere and liquid water that cause erosion. And the trump card*, plate tectonics, that recycles much of the planet’s crust over millions of years and smooths away blemishes left by cosmic impacts. As a result, there are only around 160 known impact craters in existence today (though there are surely more that haven’t been discovered).
Craters come in two flavors: those that aren’t caused by asteroids or comets, impact craters, are formed by powerful volcanic explosions.
Such outbursts can be violent enough that once the eruption is over, the volcano collapses in on its empty vacant magma chamber and forms a caldera, or volcanic crater.”
Now that’s all pretty cool stuff. We are daily witnesses to an amazing record of the lifeless yet dynamic body of matter we call the moon. But it all took a long time to happen, and some people just can’t conceive that time is that big or that the cosmic cycle is that patient. So they camp it with God, who apparently with a wave of his hand installed all those craters and the detritus they flung across the moon’s surface in highly predictable fashion. If you accept science, that’s what happened. If you don’t, you have to find a way to deny that it happened in any other way.
This is what the AnswersInGenesis website, an apologetics source for those insistent on a literal interpretation of the bible, says about the craters of the moon. Notice that there are no quotations of scripture to support these suppositions. They are basically all “made up” from the whole cloth of the imagination.
“The cratering patterns observed on the moon were formed during two distinct impacting episodes. The abundant small craters on the lunar highland surfaces were caused by meteor impacts around the time of the Fall or perhaps during Creation Week itself. The large impact basins and resultant maria were formed at the time of the Flood by a narrow, intense, swarm of meteoroids travelling on parallel paths. The meteoroids were likely comets or fragments of a large comet. Those which missed the earth or moon left the solar system on a very long-period orbit. This model explains the uniform distribution of craters on the highlands of the moon, the non-uniform distribution of lunar maria, and the near absence of impact features on the lunar maria. A specific pattern of cometary impacts on the earth and moon is predicted by this model providing direction for future research. Apart from the earth and moon, significant impacts would not have occurred on other bodies in the solar system at the time of the Flood. Therefore, evidence of a second episode of large, non-uniform impacts on other bodies in the solar system is not expected to be found.”
This is a complete and utter line of bullshit based on nothing more than totally fabricated crap created by people so desperate to protect their medieval worldview they have to make up lies to defend their grade school belief system. They are childlike and pathetic, a scourge on the health of our society and an insult to the God they claim to be the author of the universe. But what do I really think? They’re fucked up in the head.
But here’s the truly scary part about the belief system of creationists and the religious worldview they abide. They’re infectious, like a disease of the brain. Some 30% or more of America’s population believes this stuff is somehow true. There’s a word for all this: delusional. And a couple more words: cognitive dissonance.
Thus it is no coincidence that 30% of America’s voters remain staunchly in support of a certain orange politician who also has a loose relationship with the facts, tells them he’s a Christian just like them, and denies global warming to boot. But because he says he doesn’t like abortions and maybe black people, they vote for him. And his two sons? They’re little more than sonspots, “regions of reduced surface temperature caused by concentrations of magnetic field flux that inhibit convection.”
This truly is the age of the eclipse of reason. It moves across the face of knowledge and truth like the dark shadow of ignorance. These are the times we live in. There’s no denying that.
I was so glad to cut my run shot and get some photos of the eclipse this morning. But as you can tell, it got me thinking about what’s really going on this world, which is vexed by denial of truth, the eclipse of all that is good and true and wise.