Total Eclipse of the Sun · 19 August 2017

Moon before Lunar Eclipse September 2015

You do not need to fly your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see a total eclipse of the sun (a la Carly Simon). Just pack up your bags and head down to Grandma’s house to see it in Portland. At least that is what we are going to do.

Seeing a total eclipse of the sun is a pretty fantastic phenomenon. Or at least I imagine it will be.

I remember seeing a partial eclipse when I was in elementary school. Hardly any of the sun was eclipsed by the moon, but our principal showed it to us when we were out on the playground. He held two pieces of paper out in front of him and I looked at the partial eclipse on the lower piece. The upper piece of paper had a pinhole in it and the sun shone on the lower paper. He made sure to tell me that I should never look directly at the sun even through sunglasses, but seeing an eclipse with the pinhole was a perfectly safe way to view the partial eclipse. Even though the paper was very bright.

You can also look at the sun through welding goggles or welding helmets or glasses made specially for viewing the sun, but you can still not view an eclipse with your naked eyes or with sunglasses. Not unless it is a full eclipse. And then, only when the sun is fully eclipsed. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your eyes. (See NASA’s website.)

But enough about eclipse viewing safety.

Lunar Eclipse September 2015

I have been interested in eclipses ever since that day in elementary school when our principal showed me the partial solar eclipse projected through the pinhole in a piece of paper. I do not look at every eclipse (they usually happen a few times a year), but I have photographed a couple lunar eclipses. I suppose I could prepare for those solar eclipses with my pinholed paper apparatus, but I rarely know when they are going to happen. Still, I have bought into the hype of the total eclipse of the sun happening this summer. (I even bought a bunch of the special glasses that are on NASA’s list of reputable vendors.)

I think that Portland is just outside the path for the complete total eclipse, but it is pretty close. We ought to see most of the sun eclipsed by the moon (weather permitting). And that is pretty cool. I am also interested in hearing whether birds really do stop chirping because they think it is dusk and time to go to sleep. Even for a few minutes. And of course, it will be interesting to see the whole process of the sun getting blotted out by the moon. It will be like dusk happening a little after dawn in Portland. It will go dark and then it will be dawn again.

It will be a long trip for a short show, but I am looking forward to the August 21, 2017 total eclipse of the sun. I have my solar eclipse glasses and already have my viewing location reserved. We will be at my mother-in-law’s house up and ready for the event in the morning. I am just glad I do not need to have a Learjet to fly up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun.

© 2017 Michael T. Miyoshi

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