As I often do, I pulled up the Astronomy Picture of the Day, and noticed today’s photo was a fond reminder of the eclipse I witnessed a month ago.
I began to think about the preparation and timing, planning and organizing, the countless hours of testing gear for a single moment lasting two minutes, where the Moon and Sun aligned. I was in the right place, at the right time.
Solar Eclipses are rare, and it’s mostly because only a narrow band of land on Earth, usually around 100 Km wide, experiences such an event at any one time. And with the Earth 70% covered in oceans, it becomes quite unlikely for anyone to see these events even when they do happen. It’s all part of an intricate dance between the Sun and Moon, that happens to be visible from Earth.
But here’s the funny thought I had. If you have two objects in a 3D space, like the Sun and Moon, won’t there always be a place where they line up? They are both moving, and so the Moon’s shadow moves constantly, but think about what this means. Somewhere in space, at all times, there is a solar eclipse happening. If we could take a spaceship and maneuver into that shadow, we would see a solar eclipse. And if we could move our spaceship around, following the Moon as it orbits the Earth, staying in it’s shadow, we could see an eclipse continuously.
Maybe some day, space travel will be reduced to a tourist attraction. Take the flight to see the corona of the Sun as you ride behind the Moon’s shadow – book your trip now!
Of course there are a lot of things that happen during a solar eclipse on Earth that make for a unique event. The shifting behaviour of animals, the strange quality of sunlight as the Moon begins to cover the Sun, the darkening of the atmosphere, the slowly creeping shadow of the Moon as it crosses from horizon to horizon, and the twilight extending in all directions. These are experiences that can only happen on Earth, and make the event much more immersive and special.
Still, I would spend a lot of money to go on an exclipse tour in space, even if it’s just to take some photos and see the corona. A future where the wonders of the universe are easy to experience is a future I always want to be a part of.