21st century’s longest eclipse

July 21, 2009

kevinThe longest solar eclipse since 1991 covered part of the Asian continent today.   There were several parts of the story that I found amusing:

Millions gathered in the open to watch the spectacle, but millions more shuttered themselves inside their houses, gripped by fearful myths.

One Hindu fable says eclipses are caused by a dragon-demon that swallows the sun…

Some myths and superstitions, no matter how ridiculuous, are to be expected on events such as a solar eclipse.  But this myth confused me:

Even in regions where the eclipse was not visible, pregnant women were advised to stay indoors in curtained rooms, due to a belief that the sun’s invisible rays would harm the fetus and the baby would be born with disfigurations, birthmarks or a congenital defect.

The sun’s invisible rays would cause harm?  Isn’t a solar eclipse caused by the moon blocking out sun rays?  So how is a lack of sun rays going to cause harmful invisible sun rays?  People were advised to stay indoors even in regions where the eclipse couldn’t be seen?  So maybe a lack of sun rays in one region means more are being introduced into regions where people can’t see the eclipse… and those rays.. are harmful somehow… and they bounce back into regions of the eclipse… and babies are the most susceptible… oh forget it.  This is too confusing.  I’m staying indoors the next time a solar eclipse rolls around just to be safe… especially if I’m pregnant.