The Vine

By The Voice News - August 17, 2017

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We have been hearing about the approaching Aug. 21 solar eclipse for more than a year, but it is now within a few days of happening.


The eclipse will cross the United States in about an hour and a half. People in the region of totality, which includes much of The Voice News coverage area, will see the sun disappear completely for about two minutes around 12:45 p.m. to 1 p.m., and will see a partial eclipse for about 90 minutes before and after totality. The rest of the continent will also see a partial eclipse.


Forecasts at this point are calling for sunny and 86 degrees, so Mother Nature appears ready to cooperate. Clouds are the biggest downer when it comes to diminishing the view of a solar eclipse.


I was just 1-year-old when the last total solar eclipse was viewed from the contiguous United States on Feb. 26, 1979, so needless to say this will be my first experience that I will be able to remember.


The path of this 1979 eclipse passed  through the northwestern U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, as well as Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.


It is the total solar eclipse of June 8, 1918, which crossed the United States from Washington State to Florida, that most are comparing next week’s “once-in-a-lifetime” experience to though. This path was roughly similar to the upcoming total solar eclipse and was the last time totality crossed the nation from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.


People who have seen total eclipses say the experience moves them deeply and existentially.


Ernie Wright, a map maker for NASA, explained his experience viewing the 1979 eclipse in this way:


“You suddenly feel as though you can see the clockwork of the solar system. Where you think you lived doesn’t look like the same place anymore. We kind of know – in the back of our minds – that we live in a giant ball and it revolves around a hot ball of gas, and we’re floating in space. But you don’t really believe it until you see something like a total solar eclipse, where everything is all lined up and you go whoaaa. Other planets pop out. You got instant nighttime. And you can see Mercury and Venus usually. And sometimes Mars and Jupiter. ... It looks like the pictures from the textbook. It’s not entirely a science thing anymore. ... It’s mostly a thing where you have a better appreciation of where you are in the solar system.”


Many area schools as well as communities are planning special events so that students and adults alike can experience the solar eclipse for themselves. Remember to wear safety glasses and not to look directly at the sun. And make the time to take it all in and, at least for a few rare moments, marvel at the world we live in.





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