The eclipse of 2017 is nearly upon us, and like all eclipses prior, there are the usual “End of the World” crackpots to go along with it. There are some who point to the “fact” that the eclipse will only be visible in the United States, which is true, but it’s arbitrary. The eclipse would be visible from this continent whether or not the US had been founded or not. This eclipse didn’t just pop up in the past few months, either. I’e known about it since the early 90’s personally, and astronomers have known about it for far longer. Eclipses are not omens, they are calculable occurrences and we know when they will occur for the next thousand or so years.
A couple years ago ended a period of the “four blood moons” or, less ominously, four total lunar eclipses in succession (no partial eclipses between). This was known about and has happened a few times times in the fairly recent past (1967/68, 1985/86, 2003/04, 2014/15) and it will happen again in most of our lifetimes. Eclipses are quite common, with solar eclipses occurring more frequently (although they last a much shorter period of time). The end times nuts were around this last time, at least, and I’m going to bet they were around for all of the previous ones, too. They seem to pop up for every time a celestial event happens.
Eclipses, alignments, retrogrades, and other celestial occurrences have zero effect on people’s personalities, their love lives, career, or anything else, especially not our planet. These things happen and we know when they’re gonna happen down to the minute and second (although, the further into the future we go, the timing will have to be revised). How could these be seen as omens or portents if they can be predicted well into the future? If a solar eclipse occurs on the full moon, then I might take it to be a bad sign if some other explanation cannot. The eclipse coming up on August 21 is taking place on the new moon, which is exactly what should happen.
Nothing earth-shattering is going to happen because of this or any other eclipse. Maybe something will happen on earth that could be considered earth-shattering, but it will not be because of the moon passing in front of the sun from the point of view of the earth. Nothing would happen if all of the planets lined up in a perfectly straight line because the combined gravitational effects of all of the planets and their moons as well as our own moon are totally dwarfed by the gravity of the sun. Rest assured, nothing will happen because of the eclipse.
Also, eclipses are not a sign of things to come either. They are not omens or portents because they don’t just “pop up” unexpectedly. I have been looking forward to this upcoming eclipse since I was in grade school and thinking about how old I would be when it happens. 2017 seemed an eternity away. Here I am now, and I find myself thinking about how much has changed since 1985 when I was 11 years old. That will be another post. My advice is simple, enjoy the eclipse wherever you are. If you can’t make it to the path of totality, you will still see an amazing show.