On August 21st, the first Solar Eclipse in 99 years will cross from coast to coast. Beginning on the West Coast near Salem, Oregon around 10:16 am the path of totality will cross the United States in a matter of mere hours before exiting off the east coast around Charleston, South Carolina. Hundreds of thousands of scientists, tourists, and, thrill-seekers will get themselves into the path in order to watch day turn into night for a few awe-inspiring minutes across the center of our nation.
From a pure scientific, western, humanistic viewpoint, the answer is simply a beautiful, natural, and rare event: The moon’s shadow completely covers the sun’s face on the earth. However, what makes a total solar eclipse so rare and awe-inspiring is the size of the moon and the sun and the distance of between the sun and the earth and the earth from the moon. The moon is 1/400th of the distance from the earth to the Sun. The sun “just happens to be” 400 times larger (in diameter) than the moon. As the result, sun and the moon appear to be the same size in the sky- simply coincidence or something more? The majesty and beauty of a rare total solar eclipse makes many wonder- is there any meaning behind it?