If you were in the path of the annular solar eclipse on Saturday, October 14, 2023, and had a clear sky, you were privileged to see something that won’t happen again until 2039. In an annular solar eclipse, as opposed to total or partial eclipses, the Moon passes directly between the Sun and Earth without totally blocking the Sun. That is because the Moon is at a distant point in its eliptical orbit. Because of that, it appears slightly smaller, so its shadow cannot completely hide the Sun from our view.
The Moon and Sun are on the same side of Earth once every 29.5 days. We call that event the “new moon” because it is invisible to us. When the Sun and Moon are on opposite sides, we see the monthly “full moon.” Because the orbit of the Moon is 5 degrees off from the Sun’s path (which we call the ecliptic), the Moon rarely falls precisely between the Sun and Earth. When it does, we see a total solar eclipse. When it is a little off from directly blocking the Sun’s light, we witness a partial solar eclipse. We have an annular solar eclipse on those rare times when the Moon is directly in front of the Sun but at its farthest distance from Earth (known as apogee). We see the “ring of fire” around the Moon’s shadow, which is what happened Saturday.
Although the lower 48 United States all experienced a partial eclipse, those in the direct path of the Moon’s shadow witnessed an annular solar eclipse. It began in Oregon, traveled across several western states, and exited from Texas into the Gulf of Mexico. It then covered several Central and South American countries before leaving into the Atlantic Ocean from Brazil. Millions of people could view this annular eclipse. In the U.S., the eclipse crossed several national parks, including Bryce Canyon, where Does God Exist? has often taken groups on our Canyonlands tours.
The wonderfully amazing thing is that we can accurately predict solar (and lunar) eclipses hundreds of years, even a thousand years into the future. That is because we live in a precision-designed universe and solar system. The next solar eclipse crossing North America will be a total eclipse at 2:10 p.m. Eastern time on April 8, 2024. You can put that on your calendar.
Eclipses have taught us many things about our Sun and the solar system design. Regardless of what some people may try to tell you, eclipses are not prophetic signs. They are part of God’s design for a planet where life can live and prosper.
— Roland Earnst © 2023