The only explanation which has been given of this phenomenon is the refraction caused by the earth’s atmosphere. This, at first sight, is a plausible and fairly satisfactory solution; but on carefully examining the subject, it is found to be utterly inadequate; and those who have recourse to it cannot be aware that the refraction of an object and that of a shadow are in opposite directions. An object by refraction is bent upwards; but the shadow of any object is bent downwards, as will be seen by the following very simple experiment. Take a plain white shallow basin, and place it ten or twelve inches from a light in such a position that the shadow of the edge of the basin touches the centre of the bottom. Hold a rod vertically over and on the edge of the shadow, to denote its true position. Now let water be gradually poured into the basin, and the shadow will be seen to recede or shorten inwards and downwards; but if a rod or a spoon is allowed to rest, with its upper end towards the light, and the lower end in the bottom of the vessel, it will be seen, as the water is poured in, to bend upwards–thus proving that if refraction operated at all, it would do so by elevating the moon above its true position, and throwing the earth’s shadow downwards, or directly away from the moon’s surface. Hence it is clear that a lunar eclipse by a shadow of the earth is an utter impossibility.
78) From Anchorage, Alaska at an elevation of 102 feet, on clear days Mount Foraker can be seen with the naked eye 120 miles away. If Earth were a ball 25,000 miles in circumference, Mount Foraker’s 17,400 summit should be leaning back away from the observer covered by 7,719 feet of curved Earth. In reality, however, the entire mountain can be quite easily seen standing straight from base to summit.
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