Alfie: Sky-god angry! Big yellow ball, him broken!

4 Jan

Today (4th January 2011) the Sun only half rose!

Actually, slight positional grammar issue there – I should have said “only half the Sun rose”!

By which I mean that (in UK latitudes anyway) a partial eclipse of the Sun by the Moon occurred just as sunrise was taking place. I don’t ever recall that particular piece of timing occurring before in my lifetime!

It was really interesting to watch a slim crescent coming up over the horizon instead of the usual blazing ball while I drove from Peterborough to St. Ives.  As I watched it I imagined how primitive man’s terror at something so utterly out of the ordinary could turn to the assumption that some supernatural being was playing with the only available source of light and heat and could remove it completely if not appeased in some way!

And from there it is easy to see how our species saddled itself with a whole series of superstition-based ritual systems that continue to be perpetuated even today!

I am NOT primitive Man, however,  and I have heard of Science  – my thoughts as I drove to work straight towards that event were along the lines of “Wow! Even with seven eighths of it covered by the Moon that baby is still BRIGHT”!  Followed by “OK! That’s enough! Go shine somewhere other than directly into my eyes!”

All of which brought to mind that I once saw somewhere a photograph of the full Moon as it would have looked if it had rotated another quarter (or possibly three-quarters depending on which way it spun) of a turn before becoming tide-locked on us.

One of the really massive craters (Clavius I think – but I’m happy to be corrected) would then have been dead centre facing us and both we and our primitive ancestors would have been blessed with the image of a gigantic, unblinking EYE staring at us once a month!

Think how superstitious/religious we’d be now if THAT had happened!

Alfie

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