August 21, 2017The USA is about to experience an historic solar eclipse

Image Credit & Copyright: Tunç Tezel (TWAN), Alkim Ün

The USA is about to experience an historic solar eclipse. In most places, the eclipse will be partial–that is, the Moon will cross the sun off-center leaving only a crescent-shaped portion of the solar disk exposed. Is it really worth the trip to the path of totality when you can see most of the sun covered from the comfort of your own home? Pulitzer prize winner Annie Dillard witnessed both types of eclipse in 1979, and her comparison might help you make up your mind:

“A partial eclipse is very interesting. It bears almost no relation to a total eclipse. Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him, or as flying in an airplane does to falling out of an airplane.”

During the minutes of totality, the whole world changes. Saying that day turns into night barely scratches the surface of it. The shadow of the Moon lances down to Earth from a quarter million miles away. On one end is you; on the other end is a million square miles of dusty lunar terrain. You’re connected, and you can feel the cold.

Darkness inside the path of totality has an alien quality. Because the shadow is only 70 miles wide, you can see daylight at the edges even while you stand in the dark core. This distant scattered light produces a slight reddish glow and unusual shadow effects. Many birds stop singing, daytime flower blossoms begin to close as if for the night, and bees return to their hives.

“What you see in an eclipse is entirely different from what you know,” says Dillard, whose brilliant essay “Total Eclipse” is a must-read for anyone deciding whether to stay home … or have their minds blown.

http://spaceweather.com/

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