Monday, August 22, 2016

Local Planetary Science: Where You'll Want To Be -- Exactly One Year From Yesterday, Starting At 11:15 AM CDT...

For a planetary event that happens only every 250 years or so, it is probably worth taking the day off, and getting on a plane to go see it. At least I think so.

Not since almost a decade before our founders met in Philadelphia, and signed our Declaration, has there been a full solar eclipse centered over North America. It will occur on the morning of August 21, 2017. And the sweetest spot (where the locally-observed solar altitude, relative to the nominal horizon, the full penumbral flaring and high-likelihood of clear skies -- all converge) will be very near Nashville -- just a little north, and east of it, actually.

It is hard to overstate how powerful a sign this sort of a celestial event (last time around) might have been -- in the collective consciousness of the indigenous peoples of North America -- then living on these upper Midwest plains. [But in a bit of reverently-intended historical license, I have at right imaged Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotȟake, whom we refer to as Sitting Bull, the Lakota chief -- circa a century later.] So it is with some considered humility, and at least some reflective silence -- that we probably ought to observe this one, this time around.

[I've included the ghostly figure of Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotȟake to remind us that dozens of these events occurred -- on the same spot, over many millennia -- while we "Americans" were not yet present. And I also mark it to take USA Today to task (gently) -- for edit copy that appears blissfully unconscious of the history of our lands, prior to the arrival of. . . those white men.] In any event, we shall see -- if USA Today revises its copy, eventually:

. . . .The biggest and best solar eclipse in [my edit: Post-Colonial] American history arrives a year from today, and plans for celebrations, parties and festivities are already well underway.

Organizers of the Oregon SolarFest are calling it "a rare, mind-blowing cosmic experience," while Nashville promises visitors "a once-in-a-lifetime celestial event."

On Aug. 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible from coast to coast, according to NASA. It will be the first total eclipse visible only in the USA since the country was founded in 1776. . . .

Check back here -- just under one year from now -- for more (that will be a Monday, as well). It ought to be well worth the trip. Ear to ear grins, as I walk in. . . .

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