Article by Dai Kai
English Translation by Calvin Beideman
At noon on December 26, 2019, Singapore ushered in a glorious solar eclipse. “Looking at the eclipse, the moon does not shine, the new moon covers the sun blocks some of its light”, the golden ring last for just three minutes and forty seconds and indicates that the moon cannot fully cover the sun’s brightness, it can only cover the center briefly. People take pictures from different places and angles, and the media are scrambling to report.
There were three solar eclipses in the world in 2019, one partial eclipse, one total eclipse, and one ring eclipse. The next solar eclipse will be on June 21, 2020. By then, it will be visible in parts of more than ten countries, including China. To learn more, see: https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/solar/2020-june-21
Kings throughout history have paid close attention to solar eclipses. In ancient times without photographic and video equipment, officials had to use language to describe an eclipse clearly.
It is said that when an Emperor of the Eastern Han Dynasty reigned, on the first day of the first month, a solar eclipse occurred in Luoyang, the capital, and the sky suddenly darkened. The empress dowager in power asked Minister Huang Qiong to record the eclipse. Huang Qiong wrote: “The area around the capital city of Luoyang is very terrible …” The empress dowager looked at this record and was very dissatisfied. She criticized: “Huang Qiong is getting older and more confused, just saying ‘terrible’, who can understand how terrible it is? Huang Qiong was anxious, what should he write? At that time, they didn’t have terms like partial eclipse, ring eclipse and whole eclipse. Huang Qiong was so anxious that he couldn’t figure out a way. Seeing that he might be killed because of this, his young grandson Huang Yan said: “Grandpa, the sun looks like the crescent moon of the third and fourth day of the month, can you just write that?” Huang Qiong wrote according to the words of his young grandson, The empress dowager looked very satisfied and thought that the record was specific and clear. Little Huang Yan just used a metaphor to solve Grandpa’s problem.
Think of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle saying, “A metaphor is a sign of genius.” The use of metaphors can embody abstract truths, popularize profound things, make strange things become familiar, and inspire others’ associations and imaginations. I can’t help thinking, what kind of metaphor would you use to describe the eclipse in Singapore?