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The Purkinje Effect…

I am very interested in the upcoming solar eclipse that will occur in a number of states across the United States, tomorrow, April 8th. We are fortunate that Carmel, IN, where we live, is in the path of “totality” – meaning that we will experience complete darkness for approximately 4 minutes at the height of the solar eclipse. It is an exciting time, especially since the last time our place on earth experienced a total solar eclipse was in the year 831 A.D.! That’s a long time ago, and while other areas of the state have experienced totality as recently as 1806, we haven’t been in the path of complete darkness for almost 1600 years.

Other parts of the state will also experience this phenomenon and we have been notified by state of Indiana that tourism to our state is expected to increase more than 1,000,000 visitors in anticipation of this once in a lifetime event. In case you are wondering, the next total eclipse in our area will not occur until October, 2153, almost 129 years from now! So we better make the most of seeing this one – in case we don’t live to be 200 years old!

It is also interesting to note that area schools will be closed, businesses are trying to build inventory because they expect streets and highways to be clogged with visitors; and many companies are at least closing during the mid afternoon hours when the eclipse is at its greatest. It is virtually impossible to get a hotel room and  needless to say, prices are out of sight for rooms in our area. People are trying to get as much as $1000 to secure a spot in a driveway from which to watch.

I have already secured 20 pairs of NASA approved glasses for viewing the event without damage to our eyes. And many local museums and governments are holding eclipse parties that include the ability to look through telescopes, party with like-minded people and learn more about the cosmos. It’s bound to be a very busy several days around town.

While I was learning about the various aspects of the total lunar eclipse, I heard about the Purkinje effect. From what I understand, as darkness begins to set in, and the rays of the sun are altered as they arrive in our atmosphere, colors will change their appearance. Blues and greens will become more vibrant while reds and yellows will fade out and look more silver or even black in color. There are suggestions that people should wear bright colors so others will be able to see the Purkinje effect in full force. This phenomenon was first discovered back in the 1800’s by a research scientist who noticed the change in appearance of geranium plants from early morning  until they were in bright sunlight.

If you are attending an eclipse gathering, you may want to wear bright colors, particularly green and blue, to see how they change appearance against reds and yellows. This only happens during changes in bright light and dark as the eclipse progresses.

This whole idea really appealed to me for one reason in particular. When I was in seminary, attending the first day of Greek class, we were told that once we understood some Greek, we would see the Bible light up in ways that we don’t see in English. I found this very difficult to believe but several years later, I discovered it to be true. There are wonderful stories, which we are all familiar with, that take on far more colorful meanings when read in the Greek. The descriptions are more vivid and contextual meanings are usually deeper. Now, I look for these nuggets during my Bible studies.

And I am looking forward to a similar experience on April 8th. Since we are studying the cosmos that day, the sun and the moon, our verse for tonight is from the book of Genesis when Moses tells us about the great light and the lesser light. This was a result of the fact that the Egyptians worshipped more than 3000 gods. Moses, by contrast, wanted to make sure that the Egyptians realized that the sun and the moon were so insignificant compared to the magnificence of God, that God didn’t even name these two great lights in the sky. Moses tells us, in Genesis 1:16, “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.”

My encouragement is that God created this world as a “nest” for humankind. It is the place that God created for us to have the greatest experiences and relationship with Him that were humanly possible. My prayer is that as we watch the eclipse tomorrow, even if you aren’t in an area of totality, you will try to live life to the fullest; experiencing the best that God has to offer in full living color! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

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