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5 myths associated with solar eclipse busted by scientists

Updated on Dec 26, 2019 11:07 AM IST

India is witnessing the annular solar eclipse, the last one of the year.

Partial solar eclipse seen from Nehru Planetarium in Mumbai.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent

Parts of India are witnessing the last solar eclipse of the year. The celestial event is visible in south India, with Kerala’s Cheruvathur being the first place where the eclipse can be seen.

It will last for three hours from 8.05 am to 11 am.

Here are some myths associated with the solar eclipse which have been busted by scientists:

1. According to scientists at American space agency NASA, a lot of people say that total solar eclipses produce harmful rays that can cause blindness. This, however, is not true, they say. During a total solar eclipse when the disk of the moon fully covers the sun, the brilliant corona emits only electromagnetic radiation, though sometimes with a greenish hue. Being a million times fainter than the light from the sun itself, there is nothing in the coronal light that could cross 150 million kilometers of space, penetrate our dense atmosphere, and cause blindness, NASA scientists say. They do, however, warn against watching the sun before totality. People will catch a glimpse of the brilliant solar surface and this can cause retinal damage, say the scientists.


2. The NASA scientists also point towards another common myth that pregnant women should not watch an eclipse because it can harm the baby. This belief is related to the previous false idea that harmful radiations are emitted during a total solar eclipse, they say. The electromagnetic radiation from the corona, seen as light, is perfectly safe, the scientists say.

3. Some people also believe that eclipses will poison any food that is prepared during the event. Scientists in Kerala, which are witnessing the eclipse in Chervathur, say it is perfectly safe to eat, drink and carry out daily activities during the eclipse. The only danger is when one views it with naked eyes.

4. Another belief, and a classic one, is that eclipses are harbingers of something very bad that is about to happen. The scientists say this is what the psychologists call Confirmation Bias - that we tend to remember all the occasions when two things happened together, but forget all of the other times when they did not.

5. Scientists also point out that there is a common belief that there are no total solar eclipses at Earth’s North or South Poles. There is nothing especially unique about these locations from an astronomical standpoint, say scientists, pointing out that the last total solar eclipse viewed from the North Pole area was on March 20, 2015 and passed right over the North Pole itself. The last total solar eclipse viewed from the South Pole area was on November 23, 2003.

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