Science behind myths on an eclipse day


Earth revolves around the sun in an elliptical orbit, and moon around Earth. During the rotation and revolution, there exists a point of time when all three, i.e., Earth, sun, and moon, align on a single line.
Eclipse can be solar or lunar. The only difference is the position of the celestial bodies. If the Earth is present in between sun and moon, it is the lunar eclipse. On the other hand, if the moon is present between the sun and Earth, it is Solar eclipse. The former is witnessed often, but the latter is rare. Although science explained an eclipse, yet superstitions and beliefs about the celestial events are around.

Top myths during an eclipse

Mythological belief

  • Myth: In the ancestral period, people followed the ‘rhythm of the skies’ as a referral for their chores. If there is any change in the sky, people start to worry. During an eclipse, the whole world darkens, and people believe evil is eating the sun. They gather around and clank things to scare the evil away.

Explanation: When all three align in one line, the moon in the middle blocks the sunlight from reaching the Earth. It appears like something is swallowing the sun. Sun appears like a small crescent during an annular eclipse and entirely covered during a total one. Although the degree of darkness is different when witnessed from a different region.

Stay indoors

  • Myth: It is advised to stay indoors during an eclipse. It would be best not to witness the spectacular sight with bare eyes. The rays reaching us during an eclipse is negative. Pregnant women are not allowed to see it, as it is a bad omen. Birth effects in the fetus or miscarriages can be a consequence.

Explanation: It is best to stay indoors as viewing the eclipse with bare eyes can be harmful. Looking at the sun during a typical day is painful due to the bright light it projects. Our eye cannot withstand the ‘high lux.’ During the dark time of an eclipse, our eye capacity increases to take up as much information as possible. The position of the moon or Earth can change at any moment, suddenly exposing the sunlight to our naked eye. Our eye at that stage is vulnerable and can damage as it is wide open to let as much light as possible. It can also result in retinal burning. Not only pregnant women, but everyone should try to avoid witnessing the eclipse without solar viewing glasses.

Do not eat

  • Myth: You should avoid eating during an eclipse. The tradition has been continuing ever since. The degeneration of food increases by a considerable factor and develops ‘Tamasic property.’ The digestive system is upset during the time. Discard cooked food and store others with Tulsi leaves.

Explanation: Consuming food during an eclipse should be prohibited. The sun acts as a natural sterilizer, but during an eclipse, the moon covers a considerable part. Along with a drop in temperature, it is an excellent chance for the microbes to reproduce in the food and contaminate it. Eating contaminated food discomforts the digestive system upsetting it. The degeneration is purely a myth. No biological or chemical processes occur at different rates. Besides, it is also essential to store other food materials with Tulsi as it has anti-bacterial properties. 

Meditate more

  • Myth: It is healthier to do meditation during an eclipse as the biological activity enhances due to the magnetic radiations.

Explanation: No biological metabolism fastens during an eclipse, and no magnetic radiations alter. The only altered form is gravitational pull, which is almost negligible and remains unaffected.

Superstitions based on Lunar eclipse

During a Lunar eclipse, the Earth is in the middle covering the moon from the sunlight, and hence, the moon darkens gradually. It was believed that a demon ‘Rahu’ is eating the moon. Besides, the moon appears red and is considered as god’s wrath on Earth. The red colour of the moon is because it reflects the light scattered by Earth. UV rays during a lunar eclipse are the strongest and can damage cooked food. Hence, it is best not to eat food during the time. Although, according to science-based answers, it is entirely harmless.

Related: Black hole: The most mysterious object in space

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