Re: Significance of numbers: Kepler and 720: waxing eloquent

Gary Collins (
Fri, 10 Sep 1999 13:06:33 +0100 wrote:

> In a message dated 9/9/99 3:35:02 PM, Ted Davis wrote:
> << Most important is the fact that both the sun and the moon take up exactly
> the same angular size when seen from the earth: this is why eclipses of the
> sun are possible! Without eclipses of both the sun and the moon, it would
> not have been possible, Kepler points out, for the ancients or the moderns
> to have calculated the distances to the sun and the moon, and thus the
> astronomical unit (he was a Copernican). He relies here on the calculation
> of Aristarchus, which called for observations including some taken from
> solar and lunar eclipses. And this makes it possible for us to get the
> dimensions of the cosmos generally, etc. >>
> The fact that we have total eclipses, that is, that the sun and moon appear
> to be the same size, is a transitory condition in terms of cosmic time. The
> moon is receding from earth at 3.8 centimeters per year, according to R.
> Monastersky (Science News, 150 (July 6, 1996), p. 4. Thus in the distant
> future it will no longer completely cover the sun's disc in a solar eclipse,

This is correct. Only annular eclipses will then be possible.

> and the sun will more than cover the moon in a lunar eclipse. In the distant
> past the moon appeared to be larger than the sun, being closer to earth, and
> the sun did not completely cover the moon in a lunar eclipse.

This seems to be nonsense. The sun does not cover the moon at all in a lunar
eclipse. Rather, the moon moves into the Earth's shadow, i.e. it is the earth
covers the moon. I can't see any way that a total lunar eclipse would not have
been possible.

> This strikes me as another minor but interesting indication of the fitness of
> the solar system and earth for human life so cogently argued by Michael
> Denton in his book, _Nature's Destiny_. How considerate of God to place
> humans on earth during the window of cosmic time in which total solar and
> lunar eclipses occur and thus enabling scientists to make astronomical
> calculations that enhances our understanding of the universe.

And to enjoy their beauty. Mind you, this has not always been appreciated of
course. Many of the ancients saw eclipses as fearful events, or at least as
ill omens.