8 Miraculous Mysteries With Ridiculously Simple Explanations

8. The Miracle Of The Sun

Wikipedia

The Miracle of the Sun took place in Fátima, Portugal, in the year 1917. It all began when three children claimed to have met the Virgin Mary, who told them that she would reappear later in the year and, sure enough, October 13th, 1917 rolled around and an estimated 70,000 people gathered for the spectacle that would later be called the Miracle of the Sun.

Not everyone saw the same thing. Some saw the sun dance about in the sky, others saw it zig zag towards the earth, some saw psychedelic colours ... and many (i.e. thousands) saw nothing at all. The event has been recognised as a miracle, and a church has been built on the spot of the apparitions.

So what happened? Well one thing we can be certain of is that the sun didn't actually dance around in the sky. Whilst 70,000 witnesses (or a proportion of that) sounds like a lot, there were 2 billion people on the planet in 1917, many of whom were also experiencing daylight at the time, and not one of them reported any strange solar happenings. So, the effect was in the eyes of, minds of or (at a stretch) the atmosphere above the people of Fatima.

The ridiculously simple explanation is really that staring directly at the sun will do screwy things to your eyes.

Staring at the sun is, like, really bad for you. Your eye muscles and light receptors tire quickly, resulting in all kinds of visual phenomena. Tired receptors cause that "after image" effect to be burnt into vision (often in an array of colours), and micromovements in the eye muscles cause them to dance around. Couple this with the tendency towards mass hysteria of a large, expectant crowd and, boom, you've got yourself a miracle.

 
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