COLUMN: Two celestial events happening Monday, April 8

Published 7:30 am Sunday, April 7, 2024

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You’ve probably heard the news by now. On Monday, April 8, a rare solar eclipse will cast a dark shadow across the United States. It will make landfall on the Pacific coast of Mexico and continue through the U. S. and into Canada.

An eclipse occurs when the moon lines up perfectly between the earth and the sun during daylight, covering the entire sun. Alabama will get a partial view, weather permitting, that will begin at 2:05 p.m. and end at 4:35 p.m. The peak time will be four minutes from 3:19 P.M. until 3:23 P.M. (NASA Statistics).

According to, “The path of the total eclipse comes through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, as well as parts of Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee.” That’s a 115-mile-wide track.

What makes Monday’s solar eclipse rare? The moon is closer to the earth, which causes a longer period of darkness as the moon blocks the sun. NASA notes the total darkness will last up to 7.5 minutes, the longest eclipse in 50 years. The eclipse will also have the greatest number of people in the totality path due to the large populations like Dallas, Little Rock, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Montreal.

On the same day, another rare event will occur. Described as a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle, we will be able to see a comet along with four planets during the eclipse. The Associated Press says, “Jupiter will be to the left of the Sun and Venus on the right. Saturn and Mars will be to the right OF Venus but fainter. The comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, also described as the “Devil’s Comet,” due to its horn-like tail, travels by earth every 71 years, and this trip by the earth just happens to be April 8, 2024.

The Reverend Billy Graham once said, “Look up on a starry night and you will see the majesty and power of an infinite Creator.” Psalm 147:4 tells us that God “determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.”

Best-selling author Max Lucado has written, “Nature is God’s first missionary. Where there is no Bible there are sparkling stars. Where there are no preachers there are spring times…if a person has nothing but nature, then nature is enough to reveal something about God.”

King David wrote, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:1, 3-4 NIV)

God knew us before we were born (read Psalm 139). He knows the number of hairs on our head. (Luke 12:7). Max Lucado answered King David’s question like this: “The maker of the stars would rather (send his Son to) die for you than live without you.”

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”