Once in a lifetime event
By Angela Reinhardt, Staff writer
When I found out school had been cancelled for the August 21st eclipse I was thrilled because it meant my kids wouldn’t have to miss a day of school.
Yes, I’m one of the geeks who booked a hotel room in the eclipse’s “path of totality” way back in January. I decided to let my kids play hooky because a total eclipse - where the moon passes directly in front of the sun and casts a shadow on earth - is an extremely rare occurrence for our area. I’m 35 and I’ve never even seen one. In fact, most people I know have never seen one. My logic was that my kids could give their science class a full report, and even though it’s not an “excused absence” I could explain it away as educational.
On the surface it sounds ridiculous to cancel school for a three-minute event, but a total eclipse messes with one of the only constants in our lives – the sun. The sun, this thing early civilizations saw as the source of all life and created entire mythologies and gods around. The sun, one of the most widely used symbols in literature, music, arts, and scripture.
“As surely as the sun rises, he will appear.” Hosea 6:39
“Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun. And I say it’s all right.” - George Harrison
“The sun will come out/Tomorrow/Bet your bottom dollar/That tomorrow/They’ll be sun!” – Annie
Or, in the great words of Steve Martin, “A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.”
Not this time, Steve. Not this time. This time it’s going to be daytime but only appear to be night. That’s pretty epic.
A big concern from administrators is student safety and I think it’s warranted. Our own library has invited a professor of Physics and Astronomy from Dalton State to give a lecture on August 8th on solstice viewing safety, which says a lot. So order those eclipse glasses or learn how to make your own sun viewer (there are tutorials online) and get in on this fun once-in-a-lifetime event with your kids if you can.
In the dark on all the excitement
By Dan Pool, Editor
The moon is 238,900 miles away. The sun is 92.96 million miles away. Both are too far away for me to care much about their doings. Sure, I’ll be bothered if the sun finally explodes or goes out as that would affect us on earth and in scientific terms be very bad.
But one chunk of the cosmos cutting the other one off in traffic doesn’t warrant much more than a look at the window, certainly not a special trip or cancelled school days. Yes, I know that the moon will not actually come close to the sun on August 21 only getting in the way of its sunburn and cancer causing brightness for a few minutes.
I’ll admit the science explaining an eclipse is mildly interesting, ranking somewhere about the level of Braves’ trade rumors.
But eclipses have been documented since 3340 BC in Ireland and the Chinese recorded in 2134 BC that "sun and the moon did not meet harmoniously” so they are truly nothing new. And except for possibly a few members of Congress, no one believes it’s the moon eating the sun any longer.
Nor are they that rare; in fact solar eclipses happen about 60 times a century. This one just happens to be best viewed from our region.
The eclipse will only last a couple of minutes, being a mini-version of what happens every single day, it gets dark. During that time, remain calm and remember we all have lights and headlights even flashlights so talk of disruption sounds like nothing more than a replay of Y2K hysteria or wishful thinking for those who still have bunkers stocked from the last global case of overreaction.
Sure I’ll go take a look, careful to not look directly at the sun, but the idea of planning a whole day around it is going too far. In fact, if I had a choice between the eclipse viewing and a new Star Wars movie that would only show for one day, I’d be in the theatre.