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A Second Name for Solar Eclipse

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Syzygy is defined as “a pair of connected or corresponding things” (“Discover the Story of EnglishMore than 600,000 Words, over a Thousand Years.” Home: Oxford English Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.) The word syzygy was first introduced 359 years ago to predict the event that would occur on July 21, 1656. A total solar eclipse would take place when the moon intervened the sun and earth. The origin of the word comes from Late Latin and Greek and is frequently used as an astrology term, but has multiple other uses. It can also be used in subjects of anatomy, biology, and mathematics. In anatomy “the nerves that carry the sense from the brain to the whole body are defined as syzygies” (“Discover the Story of EnglishMore than 600,000 Words, over a Thousand Years.” Home: Oxford English Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.) Used as a biology term it describes “the immovable union of two joints of a crinoid and the conjunction of two organisms without the loss of identity” (“Discover the Story of EnglishMore than 600,000 Words, over a Thousand Years.” Home: Oxford English Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.) “When a group of rational integral functions are multiplied several times by other integral functions to make the sum of the products cancel out”, mathematically this is determined to be a syzygy(“Discover the Story of EnglishMore than 600,000 Words, over a Thousand Years.” Home: Oxford English Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.) Not only can this word be used to describe different variations of connecting or corresponding things, it has some interesting facts as well.

For instance, syzygy is “the only English word to have three 3 y’s” (Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.) It is also is “one of the longest English words without a vowel” (Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.) According to Wordnik.com, “syzygy has been looked up 13,455 times” on the internet and “added to 314 lists” of documented words. Being the only English word to have three y’s and one of the longest without a vowel, makes this word valuable when playing games such as Scrabble or Words with Friends. Wordfind.com is a great tool to use to find out how much a word is worth for these games. Twenty-five points can be earned during Scrabble if syzygy can be spelled and twenty-three points can be earned during a game of Words with Friends. Using this word may even win the game. Winning is a wonderful event, but it ‘s not the only event syzygy will be attending.

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Every time a solar or lunar eclipse occurs a syzygy is formed with the Earth, Moon, and Sun, but on March 31, 1981 New York Times newspaper documented that “since March 25, the entire world -and much, much more – has fallen into a spectacular syzygy.” This event was of much importance because the alignment of “Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, Venus, and the Sun were all very close in line” (“A Really Big Syzygy.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 30 Mar. 1981. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.) Until April 7, 1981 the planets and the Sun continued to come closer in alignment. According to Tom Lisser, “the closest they came to an exact syzygy was when all were within 2 degrees of arc from a perfect straight line.” This being the first major syzygy in 179 years nobody knew what could happen or what to expect. Many people were concerned and needed their questions answered.

The top priority question “is a syzygy safe?” was asked numerous times, but a clear yes or no answer was never given. Astronomers, like all scientists, had to guess. They seemed to think that the syzygy would bring no harm because “the gravitational effect of the moon on the Earth is much greater than that of all the planets put together” (“A Really Big Syzygy.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 30 Mar. 1981. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.) People also wanted to know “when will it happen again?” Mr. Lisser estimated that another major syzygy would possibly take place “after roughly 179 years” had past, since the one before 1981 occurred in 1802. Since five out of the nine planets (there are now eight planets because Pluto was removed in 2006) were in line people were interested to know if all the planets could be in alignment together. “In 1802 Mars was not in line but this time it is” while Mercury is left out. This evidence game Mr. Lesser the conclusion that “it is impossible for all the planets to be on a straight line because of the variation of their periods.”

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