Everyone is talking about the total solar eclipse happening on August 21st which will be visible in the U.S. from coast to coast.
The dark shadow of the moon — the umbra — will first touch the Earth’s surface far out over the North Pacific Ocean, nearly 1,000 miles south of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, at 9:48 a.m. local time. For 27 minutes, the umbra will sweep rapidly to the east over the ocean.
Finally, the umbra will arrive along the coast of Oregon at 10:15 a.m. local time.
From there, the moon’s shadow is going to race from coast to coast across the United States. That’s a distance of almost 2,500 miles, from Oregon to South Carolina, and it will take the umbra just 94 minutes to travel that distance.
That works out to nearly 27 miles per minute (43 km/minute), or about 1,600 mph (2,574 km/h) — about three times faster than a commercial jetliner.
That’s why, along the path of totality, the sun will appear completely covered for no more than 160 seconds.
Did you know that across the cultures, a solar eclipse is not always considered such a celebratory event?
Even though it’ll be in full view over the Navajo Nation in Arizona, traditional tribal members won’t look up while it’s happening.
The Navajo word for eclipse translates to “eating the sun.” In the Navajo tradition it is believed that the sun “dies” during a solar eclipse and that it is an intimate event between the earth, sun and moon. People are told to stay inside and keep still during the dark period. There’s no eating, drinking, sleeping, weaving or any other activity. Traditionalists believe that not following this practice could lead to health problems and misfortune to the family.
What that disruption means depends on the culture.
CQ fluency recently conducted a multicultural survey of 100 people, spanning 40 different countries around the world. While only 6% of respondents associated a solar eclipse with a negative connotation, those respondents who personally perceived the solar eclipse as neutral (50%) or positive (44%) often noted there were superstitions that other people from their country may have about solar eclipses.
The Vikings saw a pair of sky wolves chasing the sun or the moon.
In Vietnam, a frog or a toad eats the moon or the sun.
The Kwakiutl tribe on the western coast of Canada believe that the mouth of heaven consumes the sun or the moon. In fact, the earliest word for eclipse in Chinese, shih, means “to eat.”
Korean eclipse mythology involves fire dogs that try to steal the sun or the moon.
The Hindu eclipse mythology involves the demon Rahu, who disguises himself as a god in order to steal a taste of an elixir that grants immortality. A long and colorful story enfolds citing throat less heads!
For me, where everything in my head translates into a song, I can’t help but think of Bonnie Tyler singing “Once upon a time I was falling in love, now I’m only falling apart. Nothing I can do, a total eclipse of the heart.” In fact, she is actually going to be singing the song during the eclipse!
No matter what your cultural beliefs, I think this eclipse certainly deserves a peek.
About the author: Denise Bueti is the Accounting Manager at CQ fluency. She has numerous years of experience from an entrepreneurial background in the Entertainment and Education industry.
About CQ fluency: CQ stands for Cultural Intelligence. We help organizations engage people from diverse backgrounds by communicating in a culturally relevant way. Our vast array of services includes: cultural insights, cultural adaptation, transcreation, brand name evaluation and multicultural survey management, translation and interpretation in over 150 languages. For more information about our services, visit the CQ fluency website today.