The Universe

Season 5 Episode 7

Total Eclipse

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Aired Tuesday 9:00 PM Sep 16, 2010 on The History Channel
8.4
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Once they were dreaded and thought to be dragons eating the sun--but modern science has dispelled mythology and we now look forward to total Solar Eclipses as one of the most spectacular phenomena in the heavens. Explore the complex movements of Earth, Moon and Sun that produce these unusual events and hear details why we may be the only intelligent beings in the known Universe to witness eclipses like we see on Earth.moreless
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      • Narrator: A total eclipse. The brilliant sun suddenly obliterated by the black disc of the Moon. Both breathtaking and frightening, eclipses warn us of powerful solar storms that may fulfill an ancient prophecy of chaos on Earth in 2012. Eclipses of distant stars are now revealing new planets, even other Earths. The search covers the entire universe, but it begins here on Earth as the Sun hides its face in total eclipse.

      • Alex Filippenko: The ancient people didn't understand physically what was going on during a solar eclipse. They would see a progressively bigger bite being taken out of the sun, as though some gods or dragons were eating the sun, mad at those people. So the people would beat pots and pans and yell and scream and sacrifice virgins and all sorts of things to appease the gods and scare the dragons away. And you know what? It worked every time.

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