Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Solar eclipse

Is it good to watch the solar eclipse? Can one get "physically" harmed by watching it? Do "special" rays come out of sun during an eclipse? The answer is NO. Let me explain it.
From every school textbook, we know that the solar eclipse happens when the moon casts its shadow on the sun. The only role the poor sun plays in this fantastic celestial phenomenon is to place itself at the path of the straight line connecting the earth and the moon. As a result, the moon blocks the sun from the viewers on the earth, and we "experience" a solar eclipse.
Now, there are 8 (or 7) other planets in the solar systems and numerous other satellites. To think that the sun behaves differently and sends "special" rays only when the earth is blocked by its satellite is a highly anthropocentric view, and can only satisfy the ego of the most intelligent and selfish species of the earth. To sum up, there is no different kind (or amount) of rays that come out of the sun during an eclipse; the UV rays, etc. always strike the earth, be it an eclipse or not.
All the advisories blurted out by doctors---are they all false then? Interestingly, even though many of the doctors speak without any scientific knowledge, there is a case for precaution.
Ordinarily, it is impossible to look at the sun for more than a couple of seconds. As a result, the amount of sunshine (or solar energy) entering one's eyes is minimal. However, during an eclipse, it is possible to look at the sun for an extended period of time as there is less brightness. This, in turn, allows more radiation to enter the eyes. The enhanced amount of energy may be harmful for the retina. The process is analogous to over-exposure in a camera. Hence, it is advisable to use some kind of filter when looking at the sun during an eclipse.