Saturday, September 18, 2021

Chilean expert debunks eclipse myths, legends

Santiago, Jul 2 (EFE).- In Chile, hundreds of thousands of people gathered on Tuesday to watch or otherwise experience a total solar eclipse that will be seen over most of the country.

The Moon will cover all of the Sun’s disk in the areas of Atacama and Coquimbo, and the event has been the subject of conversations and comments about the myths associated with the phenomenon.

According to many mainly audiovisual media outlets, including the social networks, if a pregnant woman looks at an eclipse and touches a part of her body her baby will be born with a birthmark on that part of its anatomy.

Also, some say that an eclipse can be viewed safely if one looks through a piece of glass darkened by the soot from a candle flame or through a plastic X-ray sheet.

All these beliefs are myths, according to astrophotographer Arturo Gomez, who has 40 years of experience in the field and said that he has never heard of a real baby who received a birthmark in the womb during an eclipse.

A man observes the sun through the lens of a camera hours before a full sun eclipse at La Silla Observatory, in La Higuera, Coquimbo, Chile, 02 July 2019. EFE

In addition, he said, the danger of looking directly at the Sun – eclipse or not – is quite real.

“Throughout the world, hundreds of solar astronomers have studied eclipses, many of them pregnant women, and I have never heard of anyone who had a problem with birthmarked babies,” Gomez told Radio Bio Bio.

“For a solar astronomer, an eclipse is their top source for research and discoveries, and they won’t forego observing their best moment to gather information just because of a myth,” he said.

Regarding smoked glass, Gomez warned that the abovementioned belief is incorrect and a dangerous way to view the celestial event. “Smoked glass and X-rays don’t filter the ultraviolent or the infrared radiation and let 100 percent of the dangerous rays (from the Sun) pass into the retina of the eye,” he said.

“Although the Sun is shining like a little bright fingernail, we must always use special lenses” to directly view an eclipse, he said.

Gomez was even more critical of so-called prophesiers linked to eclipses like numerologists, Tarot card readers, horoscope casters and “witches,” along with pseudo-connections between eclipses and “disasters and crude conspiracies.”

“They talk about the constellations of the zodiac and their influences on us. Of all those people, none has stated or gotten right the constellation in which the Sun and the Moon will be this afternoon at the eclipse maximum,” he said.

“For their information – and (to aid them in) their ‘failed calculations’ – the Sun and the Moon will be in the constellation of Gemini, and nearby, in other constellations, will be Venus, Mars and Mercury,” he said.

Gomez also mentioned the alleged “formation of a gateway in our souls and the powerful energy students will receive, which will allow them to pass their exams practically without studying.”

“That’s the craziest thing I’ve heard. For me, the lazybones who doesn’t study will continue to repeat the course and the coursework will not get into their brain by osmosis, without studying, because of this eclipse of the sun,” he declared.

“A solar eclipse is a unique natural phenomenon that we must enjoy and understand to be prepared for 2020, when – in Villarrica and Pucon (in southern Chile) – we’ll be looking up once again, at midday, to see another spectacular phenomenon which nature and the coincidence of heavenly bodies in their orbits offer to us,” he said.

Gomez added that although eclipses are being talked about and explained more, “people understand less and are more confused about the event, (not least due to) the enormous amount of erroneous and fake information that pervades the social networks.”