By M.L. Meeks

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From being the place where all the muck of the universe settled, he now numbered it among the celestial orbs. From this, it follows that for a hypothetical being on one of the other planets, Earth itself would appear as a “wandering star” or planet. An inhabitant of Mars would see Earth as a planet in the Martian sky just as we see Mars as a planet in our own sky. But what would an inhabitant of the Moon see? 30 Weird Astronomy From the Moon, our planet would be a truly glorious sight. It would appear as a large orb of such brilliance as to illuminate the lunar night.

The disk of Venus near the solar limb June 8, 2004. © Gordon Garradd 2004. Odd but Interesting Events Near the Sun 45 Through a telescope (also adequately protected, of course) the event can be eerily spectacular. An unusual effect, visible especially when a low-power eyepiece is used for the observation, is the apparent tendency for the silhouetted planet to remain connected to the Sun’s limb even after its entire disk has progressed onto the face of the Sun. This is the so-called “black drop,” which proved such a menace to the exact timings required by those trying to refine the measurement of Earth’s distance from the Sun.

Good quality estimates are always welcomed by the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, as well as by interested climatologists such as Dr. Keen (see Project 5). With nothing more than the naked eye, it is still possible to make scientifically useful observations! These variations tell us much about the transparency of Earth’s atmosphere at the time of the eclipse. The air must have been especially clear in 1848, but something thick was obviously about in 1761. An unusually dark eclipse in 1950 was blamed on the amount of smoke in the atmosphere from extensive forest fires in Canada, and the culprit for the very dark 1963 one was the major volcanic eruption on the island of Bali earlier that year.

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