Solar Eclipse 2024 – The Day The Sun Went Dark

Solar Eclipse 2024 - The Day The Sun Went Dark

Hello Friends,

Today is a special day! Do you know why? Because today marks the eve of a historical, out of this world, extravagant phenomenon that we have been anticipating for several months now. Do you know what I am talking about? I’m talking about the Solar Eclipse! Tomorrow afternoon, the moon will pass between the Sun and the Earth casting a shadow over a certain region of the United States, making the day turn to night for just a few minutes. It is truly going to be spectacular! I can’t wait! Do you have any plans to celebrate this rare phenomenon? I hope you do because the next one won’t take place again until 2044; and the next one to pass by close to us won’t happen until 2099. (That’s a long time.)

So to commemorate this special day, I thought I would offer you some facts about what a solar eclipse is and what it teaches us.


“At its very simplest, when the moon gets in between the Earth and the sun, and the moon appears to pass over the sun as seen from Earth, then we get a solar eclipse,” says Michelle Nichols, director of public observing at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. “If the moon partially covers the sun, we call it a partial solar eclipse. If it completely covers the sun, we call it a total solar eclipse.”

Some of you may be asking, “Doesn’t the moon pass between the Earth and the sun every month? That’s what a new moon is, right?” That’s true. But the moon’s orbit around Earth is not completely lined up with our planet’s orbit around the sun. The orbit of the moon is tilted by about five degrees. Normally, that tilt means that when the moon moves between Earth and the sun, the three bodies are out of alignment. The moon doesn’t block the sun, and the shadow of the moon cast by the sun lands in space instead of on Earth’s surface. That’s a typical new moon. Once in a while, though, all the orbits line up, making an eclipse instead.

The shape of the moon’s orbit matters, too. It is not a perfect circle but an oval. That means the moon is sometimes a bit farther from Earth and sometimes a bit closer. When the moon is so close that it appears big enough in the sky to block out all the sun’s light, conditions are ripe for a total solar eclipse. If the moon passes directly between Earth and the sun but is too far away to cause a total solar eclipse, the result is called an annular, or “ring of fire,” eclipse, in which the moon blocks the center of the sun while leaving a ring of light visible around it.


A total solar eclipse’s “path of totality” is the area where the darkest inner shadow of the moon, called the umbra, travels across the face of Earth. If you aren’t in the umbra, you can’t see the moon completely block out the sun. In this April’s event, the path of totality will be about 100 miles wide, and will extend from Sinaloa, Mexico, through Texas, the U.S. Midwest and Northeast and northeastern Canada. Outside of the umbra will be a partially shadowed area called the penumbra. If you will be in the penumbra, you will be able to see the moon block part of the sun.

Let me explain: if you take two flashlights of similar brightness and hold them next to each other several feet from a wall and put an object like a bottle between the lights and the wall, you’ll see a double-shadow effect. Just like the two flashlights, the sun is not a single point of light in the sky, but an extended object. “It’s not something we’re used to looking for, but once you see it, you go, ‘Oh, I get it,’”

In the penumbra, to the naked eye, little will change around you, although the shapes of shadows will go blurry as the moon covers much of the sun and changes the light arriving on Earth. In the umbra, when the moon will entirely cover our star and blot out its light, you’ll see the corona, which is the outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere. It is so named because it looks like a wispy, glowing crown, and corona means “crown” in Latin. Outdoors, your environment will look like “dusk in every direction.” Nocturnal animals such as crickets may start making noise.


Here are a few fun facts you can share about the eclipse:

  • If the moon and the sun didn’t take up about the same amount of space in the sky, we wouldn’t have a total solar eclipse. Fortunately, the moon happens to be both about 400 times smaller than the sun and 400 times closer to Earth, so it fits just right!
  • The moon is moving away from Earth a tiny bit each year. At the current rate, the moon will appear too small to cause a total solar eclipse in 600 million years.
  • The shadow of the moon will travel at more than 1,500 miles per hour as it crosses Earth during April’s total solar eclipse.
  • Right before totality, you might see bright specks of light at the edge of the moon’s shadow. These are called Bailey’s Beads, and they’re caused by the last rays of the sun shooting between mountains on the moon’s surface.
  • After April’s spectacle, the next total solar eclipse to cross the contiguous U.S. will not occur until 2044—20 years from now! In that eclipse, the path of totality will cover only parts of Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota.

As you think about this historical event, I invite you to remember what John wrote about Jesus in his gospel. John wrote, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). We must remember, that although the light of the sun may appear to go dark, the light of Jesus Christ will continually shine brightly in our life. The April 8th Solar Eclipse is truly a phenomenon, but it is also a reminder that no matter how dark or tough things get, Jesus is still shining brightly in our life because no amount of darkness can keep Jesus from our heart. I don’t know about you, but I am sure glad that God created events like these because they remind me of how much I need Jesus in my life.

Enjoy the Solar Eclipse! Be safe! Wear your eclipse glasses and take note of how awesome it will be to experience nighttime during the day, even if it is only for a few minutes!

Your Friend, Holy Spirit!

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