Not Quite 100% · 26 August 2017

Total Eclipse (99%) of the Sun August 21, 2017

So maybe you do need to fly your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see a total eclipse of the sun. (Thanks Carly Simon.) Or to wherever the next one will be. Apparenlty, 99% is not 100%.

I thought that the totality thing was just a bunch of hype. I figured 99% is close enough to 100%. I thought wrong.

I did not do the math, but I did do a little thinking after we saw 99% total eclipse of the sun.

Mathematically, light and energy get through an opening as the square of the size of the opening. So if the opening doubles, the energy quadruples. But if it halves, the energy only goes down by a quarter (or something like that, I still did not do the math). Non-mathematically, even if most of the sunlight and energy did not get around the moon, some did. And that some was plenty to keep the earth warm and lit.

But it was not the qualitative or quantitative thinking that made me think that next time, I want to take the Learjet. The thinking that got me wanting to chant “totality or bust” next time actually came from a sermon. The thought goes that regardless of how much darkness is in the world, just a little bit of light shines brightly. It is why we are supposed to shine our light on a hill instead of hiding it under a bushel basket. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Watch the Total Eclipse (99%)

I wish I had thought of that song and the sermon before we went down to watch the eclipse. Oh it was a great time. We spent the time with my mother-in-law on her porch and watched the sun turn slowly dimmer. The birds stopped chirping (but two crows kept walking around on the lawn) and the temperature dropped and the day turned gray without a cloud in the sky. But it did not get black as night. The stars did not shine. That tiny sliver of light that never quite went away was too bright to bring the day to a temporary end. (And it was certainly too bright to take our eye protection off.)

Of course the time was well spent. Whenever you spend time with loved ones it is time worth spending. After all, relationships are everything. We should have just taken the party down the road a little farther.

That little sliver of light did lead to some reflection though. It led to thoughts of reliability and manufacturing and service. Thoughts about how we would complain if our toaster only worked 99% of the time or our cars were manufactured 99% correctly or our mail was only delivered to the correct location if at all just 99% of the time. We would be furious. We would not stand for it. Ninety-nine percent is not good enough.

Still, watching the eclipse at 99% was pretty spectacular. It was amazing to see how the orbit of the earth around the sun and the orbit of the moon around the earth created such a spectacular phenomenon that occurs every so often to remind us of how majestic is God’s creation. I even heard how if the moon’s and the earth’s orbits were on the same plane, we would get a total solar eclipse every month at the new moon. (And I suppose we would get a total lunar eclipse every month at the full moon. Or something like that. I did not do the science either.) It would be old hat and mundane rather than somewhat rare and spectacular.

When all was said and done, we got to see a marvelous display in the sky. I even got to think a little about mathematics and physics. But if we are able to do so, I think I will go for totality next time. And if I am ever in a position to do so, I think I’ll take a Learjet to wherever, to see a total eclipse of the sun.

© 2017 Michael T. Miyoshi

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