Solar Eclipses Used to Spook People
In the past, solar eclipses were seen in a rather ominous light. After all, the cycle of day and night would have been one of the great constants for most people in those times, meaning that to see it disrupted would have caused great distress for a lot of them. As a result, it is no wonder that ancient civilizations came up with all sorts of stories to explain the cause of solar eclipses, with examples ranging from the ancient Aztecs' fear that their divine patron Huitzilopochtli would falter in the face of his murderous siblings to the ancient Egyptians' fear that the chaos serpent Apep would win by consuming Ra's sun barge. In fact, it should be mentioned that solar eclipses can have a number of rather curious effects on nature, which must have made them even more concerning for our ancestors.
What Are Some of the Spookier Effects of Solar Eclipses on Nature?
Part of the welcome offer that comes with a solar eclipse is that a lot of animals and plants will be fooled into thinking that it is night, thus causing millions and millions of them to engage in nighttime behavior. For example, some chickens have been observed coming out from underneath the coops that provide them with shelter from high temperatures before proceeding to groom themselves, which is something that chickens tend to do at night. Likewise, there have been reports of horses reacting in a strong manner to solar eclipses, as shown by them running about, jumping around, and otherwise behaving in an erratic manner. There are even reports of dogs being spooked by solar eclipses, though in their case, that might be them taking their cues from their human owners.
With that said, strange animal behaviors during solar eclipses are by no means limited to domesticated animals. On previous occasions, fishermen have mentioned getting bites from bigger fish just before the onset of the solar eclipse, which could be because the gradual darkening of the skies causes them to believe that it is their feeding time. Meanwhile, people with an excellent sense of hearing have been known to point out how cicadas and other insect species would get louder as the solar eclipse approached before going silent for its duration. Likewise, other people have noticed strange changes to the song patterns of various bird species, which saw them going either quieter than normal or louder than normal at rather unusual times. Finally, even plants were affected, as shown by the numerous examples of flowers closing up during a solar eclipse in much the same manner that they would during the onset of night.
It is interesting to note that the welcome offer of a solar eclipse might come with other changes as well. For example, some people have proposed that solar eclipses can cause full-blown cyclones. However, while there is persuasive evidence that a solar eclipse can change the speed of the wind as well as the direction of the wind in the region that falls beneath the resulting shadow, said changes fall short of producing full-blown cyclones. As a result, while solar eclipses can have a significant impact on local weather, that particular line of speculation doesn't look like it will be winning over weather scientists anytime soon.
On the whole, solar eclipses are an interesting reminder of the awesome power of astronomical objects, which win in the sense that they can have such a huge effect on our planet even though they are separated from us by vast distances that can't be comprehended by humans on an intuitive level. After all, a solar eclipse is nothing more than the moon passing between the Earth and the sun, which sounds like such a simple welcome offer but can nonetheless have a significant impact on millions of people. In fact, it should be mentioned that solar eclipses happen on a regular basis, as shown by the fact that the Earth experiences a total eclipse once every year and a half and at least two partial eclipses every year. The sole reason that solar eclipses don't seem more common to us is because we have to be in the path of the shadow that the moon casts upon a portion of our planet during the daytime, meaning that actually getting the chance to see a solar eclipse without going out of the way is rather rare.