The Great American Eclipse

It’s right around the corner now. On August, 21st 2017, the new moon will pass right in front of the mourning sun and completely block out the entire disk. I have yet to see a total eclipse myself but I’ve heard it is an experience so sublime it can restore that sense of joy and wonder which you may recall from childhood. Even the wild animals and whales stop and watch when an eclipse happens.

The path of totality will pass just south of Salem, Oregon and continue right across the nation through South Carolina and into the Atlantic. From Olympia, only a partial eclipse will be seen, and you will need the correct eye protection or a pinhole projection. To see totality we will need to travel, and with an event like this – travel may or may not be possible.

There is little time left folks. If you would like to learn more there is an absolutely wonderful free online class available at coursera.org. This class is presented by the University of Colorado free to everyone with the internet and titled “The Sun and the Total Eclipse of August 2017.” The course has fairly easy difficulty level and the teacher is Dr. Doug Duncan, a fabulous teacher and astronomer.

No doubt you will hear more about it on the news. There is one project which to me seems most noteworthy. The Eclipse Megamovie, being produced by thousands of citizen scientist volunteers, shows great promise. The goal is to record the eclipse continuously as it crosses the nation and digitally stitch together all the pieces. This is a first ever opportunity to record the sun’s corona over the entire event. I can’t wait to see how this comes out.

So here’s a special invitation to all our “flat earth” friends. Come outside and look for yourselves. The awe inspiring majesty of nature is far more wondrous than those silly fairy tales and myths we scare children with. The science of astronomy is bringing the universe, from which we came, back to us. Space, the planets, moons, stars, and galaxies all seem to be waiting for us. We should like to know more about them, I think.

The author is an activist living in Olympia and a graduate of Evergreen.