Friday, 1 August 2008

Eclipses will vanish one day


August 1, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 31: Eclipses will come to an end and so will be the superstitions associated with them. Astrophysicists predict that there will be no eclipses of the sun or the moon 500 millions years from now.
And the reason? According to them, since the moon is drifting away from the earth gradually, a day will come it will go away so far from the earth that it will not be able to hinder the light of the sun.
The moon is moving away from the earth by 1.6 inches or four centimetres every year. If this phenomenon continues for another 500 million years, there will be no eclipses.
The argument put forth by space scientists is that the moon was actually much closer to the earth about a billion years ago than it is now. Then the earth had just 18 hours a day unlike the present 24-hour day. If the moon moves away further, then the earthly day will be say 28 or 30 hours.
There will be no eclipses when the average earth-moon distance increases by 4.6 per cent, which is about 17,000 kilometres. At the present pace (i.e. 1.6 inches a year), the moon needs 500 million years to go so far away from the earth so as not to cause eclipses.
Scientists also predict that the moon will not go on moving away from the earth for ever. After 15 billion years from present, it will stop drifting away.
Then the moon will be about 1.6 times farther from the earth than it is now. But, scientists also say that neither the earth nor the moon will survive that long. Because by then the Sun will become a red giant star and the human planet along with its natural satellite will vanish space literally!

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