Thursday, August 17, 2017
Eclipse Corner #18 THE EXPERIENCE OF VIEWING
Part of the experience of seeing the total solar eclipse is to be in the right place at the right time. With all the information provided from different news areas that seems to be something we can easily plan for because we live in the right place – the totality zone. But the weather can be a changing factor that can still mess up the best picnic plans. And then, if we decide to move, even a short distance, we may have forgotten the impact of our area acquiring so many new visitors who are here to see the eclipse. Could there be traffic problems?
August is generally a very good month for viewing a solar eclipse across the USA. Climatologists say states east of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers have a heavier average cloud path than Missouri. We will be a nearly constant 50% statistically with the possibility of typical convective clouds forming from the heat in the afternoon. Overcast conditions from weather fronts are at a 20% rate. So, we do have the statistics on our side for a good view, so let us plan on that.
Viewing the totality is the key to this emotional event. Our response will be uniquely individual. One person’s thrill of a lifetime can be a big yawn to another person. Excitement will mount as totality nears, and it all explodes at the moment the eclipse goes from 99% to 100% totality. This event falsifies our basic understanding that the constant Sun is always up in the day. Being in the shadow of totality for the first time is most powerful and impacting. We may not realize how we will be impacted emotionally.
The solar eclipse going into totality gives of lots of things to see. Just before the complete total darkness, remember to look at the Diamond Ring Effect, Bailey’s Beads, and possibly the chromosphere. Completely in the Moon’s shadow, without your Eclipse Glasses, the corona and possibly a prominence can be seen around the black disk in the sky.
Stars and planets can be seen even near the eclipsed Sun. It is not the dark of night, and looking across the horizon, you can see beyond the shadow into an eerie twilight of orange and yellow. You will remember the feeling of amazement.
Anthony F. Aveni, author of several eclipse books, says the totality is a chance to feel the three dimensional nature of the universe. He says it is the same kind of response gained by the news media when they interview someone who has just been through a tornado. We just do not have the correct vocabulary to describe something so extraordinary beyond our normal experience except for the part, “it sounded like a train.” Pictures do not convey the experience.
There is a group of people who try to go to the next total solar eclipse consistently. After the 2017 eclipse, there may be several US citizens join that group called “eclipse chasers”. Like a hobby, following eclipses becomes their passion and they are off to plan for the next. Whether you will become an eclipse chaser or not, Missouri is in luck, we have another one coming through our state in 2024. –Dan Slais
Dan Slais is a retired 8th grade earth science teacher from Waynesville, MO. He has taught Astronomy and Geology for Columbia College and has worked as a seasonal National Park Ranger for seven seasons.
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