….What’s Your Function?
That is the opening line of a little musical cartoon I remember growing up with that taught grammar through songs, as well as other elementary school topics like math and history. The series was called School House Rock and could be found today on DVD as well as being online.
This past Thursday an event took place in our skies that goes by that very name, a conjunction. In this case it was the coming together of the Sun and Moon. As a matter of fact, the Sun and Moon enter into conjunction every 29.5 days. When referring to the Sun and Moon, conjunction occurs when the centers of the Sun, Moon and Earth are all in line with regards to the plane of the Ecliptic, that plane that defines the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. Even though conjunction occurs every ‘month’, the Moon might not be on the Ecliptic and so the conjunction goes unnoticed. A day or so after conjunction, we see evidence of its occurrence with the appearance of the new crescent Moon, which you will find many fine examples on this site.
Then there are those times when all three bodies are on or sufficiently close to being on the Ecliptic and in such a case a solar eclipse results. On this past Thursday just such an event took place. The moon was only approximately 0.5° above the Ecliptic and because of that, as conjunction approached, the Moon began to obscure the sun from our view, essentially casting a shadow on the surface of the Earth, and dimming the sunlight. Thursday’s eclipse was a partial solar eclipse with about 50% of the sun obscured. This photo below was made near the peak of the eclipse.
One of the more striking features of this eclipse is the huge sun spot nearly in the middle of the sun. This sun spot, AR 2192 is nearly the size of Jupiter and emits huge solar flares and other intensely high energy particles. Other smaller sun spots can also be seen in this photo.
It is remarkable to see such events in our sky. Being the scientist that I am and having studied the motions of the heavenly bodies in no way diminishes the wonder, exhilaration and awe that is felt when witnessing such an event. Being the man of faith that I am and having studied the theology of my faith as well, only further reaffirms how great our Creator is in creating and sustaining such a perfect universe and has given us the faculties of thought, reasoning and measure, that we can predict with exact precision when these truly Divine moments will occur. With that foreknowledge we can bear witness to the greatness of God not just because such an event occurs, nor that we can predict when it will occur, but because it is an act of God. Such an event happens because the Creator is just that, the event is created into existence, it is perpetuated through time by its creation, annihilation and recreation at every instance. At one moment it is as shown above and then it is destroyed and then recreated spatially and temporally in a new configuration, but done so at an unfathomable speed that it is not only unnoticeable to us, but also immeasurable. What we perceive as an analog universe, is in reality universe that is in existence one moment and then nonexistent and then existent once again repeating ad infinitum until the Creator decides that something no longer needs to exist and then it just ceases to be recreated and likewise can bring something into existence through creation that an instant ago did not exist and perpetuated forward. Phew, enough mind bending for one day.
What is the function of this Conjunction?
Well I know my answer, what is your answer? Leave it below as a comment.
Until next time, Peace to all.