Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past several months, you know about the solar eclipse occurring over North America on August 21. The path of totality is a seventy-mile wide strip in the northern part of the U.S. The first appearance of the eclipse will be at 9:05 am PDT near Lincoln Beach, Oregon. The eclipse will then pass over Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina, and end at 2:48 EDT.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, thereby blocking part of the sun’s rays. The last time a total solar eclipse occurred over the contiguous U.S. was in 1979.
Some ancient cultures believed that the sun was either eaten or stolen by mythical creatures. Vietnamese believed the hungry culprit was a giant frog, and the Chinese believed it was a dragon. The Native American Pomo believed a bear got angry with the sun and took a bite out of it. Today’s society could take a lesson from the Benin and Togo legend that the sun and moon were fighting and the only way to stop them was for people on Earth to resolve their differences.
A few of my colleagues are traveling to Oregon to view the total eclipse. They made plans months ago before hotels sold out. They’ve purchased shaded goggles for eye safety, and they are prepared to brave the multitudes crowded in a small area. I wish them the best, but I won’t be joining them. The last time I tried viewing an eclipse I wound up setting in a cold car only to have clouds roll in at show time. And when I was in Bar Harbor, Maine in April 1987 to view a lunar eclipse, I waited in my car at night in a bank parking lot for the full moon to turn dark as the Earth blocked the sun’s ray. I got there early to make sure I had a prime location. The eclipse began, and the next thing I knew I was waking up just as the eclipse was ending.
On August 21, I’ll be in Texas where the eclipse will be less dramatic. I also plan to be swimming in the Gulf of Mexico when it happens.