The moon eclipsing the sun last week was another refreshing respite for me, considering the continuing betrayal of our nation’s values by the emperor-like actions of our leader.
This eclipse was also an event demonstrating the validity of scientific explanations of what was happening in our universe that no one denied -- unlike climate warming being denied despite the weather changes being experienced around our earth.
Though Southern California experienced only a 60% eclipse I finally decided a week before the actual event that I wanted to view it after all since the sun would be easily visible from my own yard. Contacting my local library for a free pair of safe viewing glasses, I learned they had dispensed them all two weeks earlier. Internet web sites revealed the reputable safe brands were all sold out. Los Angeles area TV news reported a couple stores had a few glasses left selling for ten dollars. Family in another state learning my plight surprised me by sending glasses so I didn’t have to pursue some alternative viewing options.
That morning our sky was overcast but finally cleared shortly before the eclipse time was to begin. I sat down outdoors in my lawn chair, affixed my glasses, gazed directly at the sun as a portion slowly began to disappear from view ….. not from the side as I had anticipated, but from the sun’s curved top. I confess to catching my breath ….. feeling a spark of emotional wonder on seeing the moon make its beginning intrusion over the sun’s edge.
After a few minutes I decided to retrieve a cup of coffee from indoors. Once I stepped inside I was struck by how long my vision was taking adjusting to indoor darkness from the outdoor lighting. Giving me pause, this caused me to alter my plan of sitting outside steadily gazing at the sun, preferring brief glances only periodically for the next however long – hour or so. That was a wise choice I’ve subsequently learned.
So, I alternately viewed the live event outdoors with indoor viewing of television set network coverage, and NASA’S streaming video from the Internet on my laptop as the eclipse action sequentially moved across our continent. The most dramatic totality view I observed was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with the Grand Tetons backdrop. This isn't that particular view but a short time lapse one in the area.
During the event Instant Messages were exchanged with friends here nearer the Pacific Coast, family in the Midwest who also saw only a partial eclipse, plus another who had traveled from her east coast home to visit friends in South Carolina where they experienced the awe-inspiring full eclipse with accompanying darkness.
I will always be enchanted by the wonders of nature and the universe. Next time, if I’m still around in 2024, I might just make an effort – with advance planning – to travel where I might see a full eclipse with that total daytime enveloping darkness.
Such experienced totality this year was just over 2 minutes, but will have 4 ½ minute peaks in 2024.
April 8, 2024 the path to view a total eclipse in the U.S. extends from Texas to Maine summarized in a CNN article link noting:
“Cities like Austin, Texas, Dallas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianapolis; Toledo, Cleveland and Akron, Ohio; Buffalo and Rochester, New York; Montpelier, Vermont and Montreal will be directly in the path of totality.”
If you’re wondering whether you can safely use your 2017 eclipse glasses in 2024, the short answer is that it’s probably best to get a new pair, according to this article at Live Science. They offer some excellent references with links providing additional information about safe further use of these glasses, also cautions including that even with the eclipse glasses, looking directly at the sun should never be for more than a few seconds which I had never heard mentioned before.
“After the 2024 event, the next closest rounds of total solar eclipses over the U.S. will occur on March 30, 2033, Aug. 23, 2044, Aug. 12, 2045 and March 30, 2052”.
Thought I’d best include those future dates in case anyone wanted to view a total eclipse but might be inclined to delay. I’m not sure how many of those dates, if any, I’ll still be around to experience – but can we ever be sure of anything?