Since another total solar eclipse won’t be coming around the U.S. for years, I’m getting all geared up to take it in. I’ve got my glasses, and since Oregon is expected to be overrun with tourists, I even got the day off without asking. Score! If I’m super-lucky, the skies will be clear…but this is Oregon, so here’s to hoping. People are making a big deal about the eclipse, and wherever there are people, there’s bound to be some weirdness. Which I am, of course, happy to share with you. First, some cool weirdness.>Did you know that by taking pictures of stars during a total solar eclipse, Eddington demonstrated how gravity bends light? Also, French astronomer Jules Janssen discovered helium during a solar eclipse in 1868. That’s some super-cool scientific weirdness.
It is written…according to some Greek historians, a solar eclipse in 585 BCE was enough of a sign to halt warfare between the Lydians and the Medes. If only that worked in today’s world, right?
If you’re near animals during the eclipse, watch for some weirdness. Experts say that the birds and insects go eerily silent. The darkness confuses nocturnal animals into waking up and tricks others into settling down for a nap. Since I live on some acreage, I plan to take notes on the level of eeriness. For future writing projects, of course.
And now for some even weirder stuff…
In ancient China, predicting the eclipse was a big deal for an emperor’s success. If astrologers failed, not only did this not bode well for their leader, but some paid with their lives. And Babylonians would plant temporary kings during eclipses so the bad luck wouldn’t fall onto their real king. Some poor sap got to be king for a day—and face the wrath of their Gods.
Some people in India fast during the eclipse because any food prepared during an eclipse will be unpure and/or poisonous. Even better, some Indians avoid demonic possession during the eclipse by bathing in urine before and after. And don’t forget to rinse your eyes! They also believe that urine protects vision…but to be extra-safe, don’t forget protective eclipse glasses.
Thinking about getting it on during the eclipse? You might want to reconsider. Back in the day, it was believed that would result in ugly, little demon children.
Not that Dean Winchester as a demon is ugly...but to play it safe, go with what some Latin Americans do—wear red undies and a safety pin to prevent any birth defects. Need a partner for some eclipse action? Check craigslist. There's a 40 year old guy from Europe who's looking for a woman to help him produce a child during the eclipse. He claims he's smart, attractive, in good shape, and his blood is pure. Hrms. If he was such a great catch, I'm thinking he wouldn't have to resort to craigslist, but what do I know?
Whatever you plan to do for the eclipse, don’t forget to look down too! Look at the horizon during totality for a 360 degree sunset. Check the ground for shadow snakes or shadow bands, which are moving lines of alternating light and dark. Smack something large and white on the ground beforehand to get the full effect—they only occur during the seconds immediately before and after totality. And lift your gaze again to find Mercury, which is usually outstripped by the sun.
Are you planning to view the eclipse?