Tuesday, June 17, 2014

About Solar Eclipses Part 1 - When Do Solar Eclipses Occur?

In the April 28, 2014, post I wrote:

...it's important that we take note of solar eclipses because there is a coming solar eclipse that I do believe is spiritually and prophetically important. 
That one will occur next year on March 20, 2015. I plan to post more about the prophetic significance of this and other solar eclipses that occur centered within the tetrad (four) of lunar eclipses occurring on major Feasts of the LORD. We'll probably get to that discussion sometime this summer.

Since the summer solstice is approaching on June 21, it seems a good time to learn about solar eclipses. (Tweet that!) The summer solstice is when the sun is farthest from the equator to the north and is the official "first day of summer." This also means this is the "longest day of the year." Not really; it's still 24 hours long, but it is the day that has the most daylight. From the summer solstice forward the amount of daylight (or the "days") will start getting shorter. The summer solstice usually occurs on June 21 or 22.

While interesting, none of that has anything to do with solar eclipses!

Let's learn some basics about solar eclipses.

First, why are we learning about solar eclipses?

Because there is coming a solar eclipse that is within a "tetrad" of lunar eclipses. A tetrad is four total lunar eclipses in a row (without any partial eclipses in between). And these four lunar eclipses are occurring on major Feast days of the LORD, which seems to be very significant prophetically and spiritually. (See the previous discussion of the lunar eclipse on April 15th and related articles.)

While the solar eclipse on March 20, 2015, is still months away, I wanted to learn about solar eclipses and share what I learned with you so we can both understanding some about them and enjoy the science in anticipation of this event. (Tweet that!) Having a foundation will make the event more meaningful and fun, and we'll be able to understand more of what we hear others saying about it as it approaches.

When can solar eclipses occur?

You may remember from our discussion on lunar eclipses (in the article "How the Jewish Calendar Works") that, scientifically, there can only be a total lunar eclipse on a full moon. Well, scientifically, there can only be a solar eclipse at a new moon (when no moon is visible). (Tweet that!)

I found a lot of interesting information in this Space.com article, "Solar Eclipse: What is a Total Solar Eclipse & When is the Next One?" by Joe Rao, SPACE.com Skywatching Columnist. Here's a bit of it:

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between Earth and the sun, and the moon casts a shadow over Earth. A solar eclipse can only take place at the phase of new moon, when the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth and its shadows fall upon Earth's surface. 

Remember that the first of the month on the Jewish/Hebrew calendar always occurs on a new moon. (See "How the Jewish Calendar Works.")

Are solar eclipses a "happy accident of nature?"

I found these quotations in the Space.com article very interesting:

The fact that an eclipse can occur at all is a fluke of celestial mechanics and time. Since the moon formed about 4.5 billion years ago, it has been gradually moving away from the Earth (by about 1.6 inches, or 4 centimeters per year). Right now the moon is at the perfect distance to appear in our sky exactly the same size as the sun, and therefore block it out. But this is not always true…

Later, in the article the author said:

Total solar eclipses: These are a happy accident of nature.

Some scientists may think solar eclipses are “happy accidents of nature,” but people of faith who know the One True Creator God know that they are in no way accidents but are instead the purposeful planning of God. (Tweet that!)

There are four types of solar eclipses. We’ll learn about each in the next post.

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