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The Editors

The Meaning of the Eclipse

A communal act, free of politics: just what the U.S. needs.
It's good.

It's good.

Photographer: Donal Husni/NurPhoto

Herodotus described it plainly enough: “The sun left his place in the heaven and was invisible, though there was no gathering of clouds and the sky was perfectly clear; and instead of day it became night.”

Eclipses have preoccupied the Greeks and Romans, Chinese and Assyrians, Amos and Joel, Gilmour and Waters. They’ve signified different things in different eras: foreboding, good fortune, prefiguration. Across cultures, though, an eclipse has almost always been freighted with meaning -- a sight so vivid and unsettling that it must portend something important.