04 October 2005


Does it bother anyone else that during a total Eclipse of the sun by the moon, the Moon is juuuuust the right size to block all but the sun's corona, giving us a spectacular "ring of fire"? Isn't it a little bit too convenient?

If religious types really wanted to convert people, that's the kind of thing you need to be selling as divine creation, rather than saying you'll rot in Hell 1.

From a planetary mechanics point of view, I'm sure the equations probably balance out. If you assume that the supposition that a prehistoric Earth impact ejected the material to make the Moon is correct, then it may be that the relative masses and densities of the two bodies involved are such that the Moon automatically assumes the correct orbit to provide nice eclipses. Maybe that's just how moons work.

It's almost like Archimedes getting into the bath and displacing his volume in water, which is juuust enough to cover the floor to exactly the depth required so that when Archimides got out, he slips and falls back in. OK, so it's nothing like that.

If you do accept the Creationist dogma for a second, it would stand to reason 2 that what is for The Moon is for all moons. But would He go through all that trouble making nicely positioned and sized moons, only to give Life to one planet only? Maybe he couldn't be bothered. Maybe He got to late Saturday afternoon, tired after a full week creating the Universe, the footie is on the telly, last job in the Job Jar is "create eclipsing moons" and He thought "No, Its Chelsea Versus Liverpool. Screw Their Nicely Eclipsing Moons. They Can Be Happy With What They've Got. Or Else." Doesn't sound much like the popular depiction of God thus far does it? Ooh, Deity as Couch Potato Footy Fan, there's a concept. Maye I should write a book and sell the film rights to Tom Hanks.

Errr.......Eclipses! Very pretty, little bit too convenient, but very pretty all the same. I'm sure there is a rational, science-based reason for it. Answers on a Postcard.

1 Wouldn't you have to believe in God, and hence Heaven and Hell, before this threat carries any weight?
2 Sorry, used "reason" in the context of Religion there.

1 comment:

  1. The distance between the Earth and the moon changes, which means that when the moon does happen to pass in front of the sun it can result in a total eclipse (everything blocked out) or an eclipse like the one you suggested.

    Obviously the distance varies with in certain limits. Also it's worth pointing out that the view you get depends on where you are on Earth, so some people will only get a partial eclipse.