This 21st day of August 2017, the sun will disappear from the sky across the United States. Soon after, hopefully, it will return. But we’ve not always been so sure that it will — and that’s one of the reasons that eclipses have retained some of their wonder. The sun is perhaps one of the most familiar sights in the world — and human lives have been lived around its rhythms since the beginning of time — but eclipses make it unusual again. Even as we have come to understand how and why eclipses happen, they have continued to be mysterious. Even when we know what’s going on, they are held to be messages of some kind. Understanding why eclipses happen hasn’t removed any of their power —they hold as much excitement for us as ever. That might partly be the vestigial traces of the fear and fascination of our ancestors, but it is also a consequence of human curiosity. One major factor in the entire human equation is a sense of wonder,” says Allan Chapman. “Without it, we would be goldfish. I think that it was this fascination with mysteries that not only stimulated the people of 2,000 BC to look at the sky for divinatory purposes, or make a racket to – predictably – frighten away a devouring sky monster, but which also drives our compulsion ‘to know’ today.”
Andrew Griffin, The Independent, Philadelphia, Pa.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Allow your sense of wonder to take over during the hours of the eclipse. If you have time meditate on this wonder of our solar system within the vastness of the universe. Be amazed again at the Creator and Source of all that is.
The heavens declare the glory of God: the skies proclaim the work of God’s hands. They have no speech, they use no words: no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world.
Psalm 19: 1‐4
Creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion.
Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.
St. Francis of Assisi
Glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars. Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings. Now, think. What delight God gives to humankind with all these things . All nature is at the disposal of humankind. We are to work with it. For without we cannot survive.
Hildegard of Bingen
We are born full of wonder and can recover it at any age.
Radical amazement is the chief characteristic of a religious attitude toward life and the proper response to the divine.
Eclipses are beautiful cosmic events, but they can also seriously damage your eyes if not viewed safely. If you are watching the total solar eclipse observe the following:
Do wear eclipse glasses. The only safe way to view the eclipse during its partial phases is to wear eclipse filters.
Don’t look directly at the sun when any part of its bright face is still visible. Whether you are in the line of totality or outside of it, never look at the sun without proper solar filters during the partial phases of the eclipse.
Don’t use sunglasses instead of eclipse glasses. Properly certified eclipse glasses are 100,000 times darker than sunglasses, and they filter out the harmful ultraviolet and infrared radiation.
Don’t look at the sun through a telescope or binoculars while wearing solar eclipse glasses. This is extremely dangerous because the concentrated sunlight coming through the optics of the telescope or binoculars could burn through the filter and damage your eyes. Only look at the sun during the partial phases of the eclipse with binocular or telescopes that have specially designed solar filters.
Don’t use a welder’s mask. Most likely a typical welder’s mask that a person might have in his house is not strong enough to be used during an eclipse.