Once in a Lifetime –
The Great American Total Solar Eclipse

Special Eclipse Edition
August 15, 2017.
VOL. XVIX NO. 3

This Just In:

The Total Eclipse: Extraordinary Delusion?

by Chris Cory

Coming back from a dinner party last night, I started thinking about why on earth we haven’t had more responses to our website on the sun and the moon (Monday’s Total Solar Eclipse) (jump directly to the comment section). I wondered if it’s because we and most media have presented the TSE as rich for scientists but sort of weightless to the average person. Watching it is something like going to see a very rare, slow-moving orangutan in the zoo— it’s a curiosity. It can’t control you, you can’t control it. If you’re not a scientist, so what?

Admittedly, our articles and comments haven’t identified consequences of interest to 77-year-old Yalies like ourselves.

For instance, what are possible implications for the national mood — Trump, politics, economics, religion, psychology? Is eclipse interest, as a New York Times editorial this week suggested, just a pleasant vacation from the things that most of us worry about every day? Why are some classmates, other people, and networks, trying so hard to view and broadcast this impersonal event that to many may seem almost random, happening a few hundred thousands of miles away (the moon) or millions (the sun)? Though an eclipse is even less arguable than global warming (but see our link to an hilarious Andy Borowitz column in The New Yorker), could the excitement be just one of the “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” that the Scots writer Charles Mackay described in his classic book by that name?

I’m not against science. Just curious about the disconnect between the classmates who get our emails and don’t click through to this website, and the eclipse enthusiasts.

Please comment here.

 

Three quick takes

Ed note: Our class is lucky to have Roman Weil’s interest and information about the forthcoming solar eclipse, as well as his warning about the very genuine danger that careless watching will pose to our already-weakening eyes and his enjoyable stories. He will be in Jackson, Wyoming, as will Clark Winslow and a party of his friends. After you read below, scroll down on this page to see the initial posting on the comment board (including that of music-loving Gary Richardson), and check the board again before and after the day of the event (carry the web address with you if need be – Yale1962.org/speakout/. The comments are directly below all of the content on this page; you can click here to go to the comments directly.  If you haven’t posted before, you’ll get simple instructions when you click.).

Above all, toss in (below) a contribution of your own at the bottom of this page. We and many of our other classmates want to hear from the rest of you. Before the event, post your own plans. Or lack of them! We want particularly to hear from the almost 15 percent of you who live along the path of totality lying between Oregon and South Carolina, and from those who are planning to travel there. Comments about family or friends who you know will be participating also are welcome, as are questions and “I don’t care because . . .” opinions. Your comments will be available to all classmates as soon as you post them. Then, on the big day, share your actual experience during the TSE, even if you watch only on television.

Particularly if the weather cooperates, this will be a special and memorable day for many people, including, we hope, you.

 

by Roman L.  Weil from Jackson, Wyoming

I: THE SPLENDOR OF TOTALITY

(The famous eclipse photographer Fred Espenak is believed to have first used this meaningful phrase.)

Monday, August 21 will feature, for us, a once-in-a-lifetime, Total Solar Eclipse. You will be aware of it no matter where you are in the U.S. lower forty-eight. If you want an orgasmic experience, get to the Splendor of Totality.

Thousands of people spend thousands of dollars to experience the Totality of eclipses. They call themselves eclipse chasers, but the technical term is umbraphiles. We outsiders call them eclipsomaniacs.

NASA photo of a past TSE

I know how old we are and I don’t talk about orgasmic experiences lightly. Experts as varied as the editor of Astronomy magazine and a Yale alum who is a former NPR science editor wax equally eloquently about the splendor of the Totality — the experience you can have if you are in the 70-mile wide band that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina, passing through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee, plus a quarter of Illinois and slivers of Georgia and North Carolina.

Michael Bakich, editor of Astronomy Magazine says of being in the Totality: “you will experience primal emotions and wonderment”; “you will involuntarily scream, gasp, or perhaps cry at this astounding vision”; “you will feel ecstasy, wonder and regret when it is over.”

He adds that the difference between seeing a partial eclipse outside the Totality band and seeing a total eclipse is like the difference between almost dying and dying.  This is from a guy who peddles science for a living. Our Yale College ’86 fellow alum, David Baron, now author of the hot-selling book American Eclipse, likens the difference to that between watching someone eat generic ice cream and eating a meal yourself in a three-star Michelin Parisian restaurant.

It looks as if almost 15 percent of classmates live in or near the path of totality.

The duration of this totality is a bit more than two minutes. The maximum possible time for an eclipse’s totality is a bit over seven minutes. There was one of those in 1973, but not in the United States and we won’t have another until 2150, also not over American soil.

A picture of the new eclipse stamp. With the real stamp, heat from a finger will change the dark image to the one shown behind it.

Get yourself to the Totality band, as shown in the accompanying map (try moving your cursor and clicking anywhere on the path). It won’t be easy, as the lodgings are almost sold out and remaining unsold airfares are higher than you might imagine. (Info from Houston Weather)

Don’t waste time traveling to improve a partial experience. Even moving from a 40 percent to a 99 percent view won’t get you to orgasm. At least that’s what many experts say, but opinions differ. Al Chambers says that the partial eclipse of the moon that he and Alice experienced in Tbilisi on September 22, 1968 in the then Soviet Union was memorable and impressive and I shouldn’t pooh-pooh the partial view. Al admits they couldn’t really see the shadows and movement moon to briefly block the sun, but they surely knew something completely unusual was taking place.

Naturally, there will be television coverage and great photos in the succeeding days, but that will be nothing like being there. Pay attention.

 

II: MY PATH FROM IGNORAMUS TO GURU

Because I live in the Totality band in one of the towns, Jackson WY, with projected clear skies for August 21 and with a nearby airport, one of my eclipsomaniac siblings called over two years ago to inquire about housing for August, 2017. How could I have any idea and why was she asking? She explained and, for the first time, I became aware. No one in Jackson I encountered had any idea. One friend, who owned 65 motel rooms, asked me soon thereafter why a slicker from NYC wanted to rent all his rooms for a week-end more than two years out. Aha; I did have an idea. The local luxury hotel, the Amangani, quickly got the word and advertised a five-night minimum at $2,400 per night. CNN reported a few weeks ago that they still had one luxury house to rent for $65,000 for the long weekend. I have one extra bedroom you can have for free.

I had been looking for a way to contribute, civically, to my newly adopted home. Many local organizations were happy to take a check, but where could I find a way to contribute my energy and the practical power of an economist?

I asked the Mayor if she had a planning committee to think about the problems of getting ready for the extra crowds the Eclipse might dump on the already-busy August tourist season. After she informally deputized me, she did. So, I began to learn about portapotties, parking, vision protection, water supplies, catalytic converters and dry grass, competing jurisdictions between local police, state police, national park service; garbage disposal; landing rights and parking slots for additional private planes; weather patterns, chances of forest fire smoke, and so on. How many Portapotties do you need for 10,000 people for 10 hours? Answer below.

My biggest challenge was persuading the various interests that I had no financial stake in the outcomes, only in making Jackson run more smoothly that it otherwise might. My most creative solution was to solve the parking problem, but because that involved bringing in an outside vendor expert in parking at large concert and sports stadiums, everyone voiced suspicion.

I thought it useful to try to develop estimates of how many extra people would come. Wielding the imprimatur of the Mayor, I was able to reach VIPs everywhere to ask how they had developed their estimates of extra crowds for the eclipse. I learned from Casper WY, St. Joseph, MO, Portland and Madras OR, and Cairns Australia that they had WAGs. Do you know the acronym for Wild Ass Guess? No one had any idea.

The best advice I got on making estimates came from both the leading eclipse tour operator and the Jackson Police Chief. Jackson WY is already full of tourists visiting the nearby national parks during the third week of August. You can’t be fuller than full. There is no place to put more visitors. They might try to come, but they won’t be able to. I read last week a ridiculous statement that 45,000 extra people will be coming to Jackson. It’s all WAG. My WAG is that the beautiful Jackson Hole Valley will be plenty crowded but that the travelers will spread themselves across the totality band of Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming and beyond. The August 12 Wall Street Journal included an op-ed from Jackson titled, “Oh No, Here Come the Solar Eclipse Herds.” The major media have arrived.

I took my ideas to other cities. Madras, Oregon received me with open arms. I went there several times for their planning committee meetings. I had a ball. I had nothing to lose except ignorance. I love to teach. I’ve given several lectures on the eclipse in spite of the fact that I know diddlysquat about astronomy. I can still instruct you and entertain you. The answer on the Portapotties:  125.

The further you go east in the Totality band, the more likely overcast and clouds will obscure the eclipse, at least based on historical weather patterns. The Music City of Nashville is the largest city on the path of totality, but it also has about the highest probability for overcast weather. My professional life has been about probability and statistics, so I know well that in 2017, it could be gorgeous in central Tennessee and dismal in beautiful Western Wyoming.

I just hope that won’t be true.

I’ll be in Jackson with a group of twelve family and friends. We’ll arrive several days ahead. Classmate Clark Winslow will be there with another group. It will be a grand place to be if one doesn’t try to move around.  One of my daughters so dislikes crowds that she bailed on the family to go with friends to Sun Valley ID. We all are subject to the vagaries of forest fire smoke in what has been a bad year for fires.

AYA surprised me by not having a session on this major science event of our lifetimes for assembled alums at the June reunions. The Astronomy Department was prepared to put on an entertaining show and AYA had been alerted to the possibilities.

My almost-final effort was to construct post cards with an eclipse map taken from Xavier Jubier on the reverse and one of the eclipse images of artist Tyler Nordgren (poster above) on the obverse. I sent these as mementos to dozens of friends, family, and those who taught me along the way. I’ve chided Tyler for not selling such cards. I didn’t pay him for using his intellectual property, but he does sell all matter of eclipse posters with apparently big customer interest.

Here is an uplifting thought from David Baron:

“Eclipses inevitably reveal much about ourselves, too. What we see in them reflects our own longings and fears, as well as our misconceptions.”  American Eclipse, W.W. Norton, 2017.

III: DANGER // PUBLIC SERVICE ADVISORY

No matter where you are in the U.S. you will be able to see a partial eclipse. This will start around 9am in PDT and around 1pm in EDT. It will last about three hours. You will have difficulty disciplining yourself to avoid looking at the sun. When the moon covers the sun enough for you to be able to look at the sun without pain and you look without vision protection YOU WILL LIKELY PERMANENTLY DAMAGE YOUR EYESIGHT. Get vision protection now. By next Monday, you won’t find any to buy. The devices cost only $.30 to manufacture. I’ve seen them offered for sale for as little as $.50 and as much as $20.00. You could have had them for free at my reunion talk, as the leading manufacturer of them gave me hundreds to give away. I feel like Johnny Appleseed this week bestowing them on friends and acquaintances.

This is serious business. Squinting won’t protect you. Photographic negatives won’t protect you. CD’s won’t protect you. Looking through unfiltered camera lens makes it worse. Non-solar camera filters make it worse.

270 million Americans will be able to view the partial eclipse, or so I’ve read. The leading manufacturer of the vision protection shades told me two years ago that if all U.S. manufacturers produced at full capacity from then until now, the total output would be only 200 million units.

Remember that you can click here to add your comments.

—0—

 

EXCELLENT SITES FOR MORE INTRIGUING AND USEFUL INFORMATION

The Great American Eclipse

Great American Eclipse: Meteorologist explains exactly what will happen

http://www.stjosepheclipse.com/25tips.html

Roman’s article for our website from November ’15

Washington Post Fact Sheet on watching the eclipse

 

ECLIPSICAL MUSIC

Above: a definitely ellipsical sound track by Eli Newberger and Jimmy Mazzy, from an amazing 1985 recording, reissued as a CD of Dixieland jazz duets. The full CD is on Spotify for anyone wishing to hear the entire work. The musicians produce a spellbinding result from a totally unexpected combination of instruments that usually don’t get anywhere close to this mellow. Play it again as you watch. — CTC

 

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  • Gary Richardson September 12, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Today I received Roman Weil’s nicely designed first-day-of-issue card with the heat-sensitive Total Solar Eclipse postage stamp affixed, reminding me that I forgot to post any of my eclipse photos as Al Chambers had urged. Better late than never, here is a One Drive link to a few—one shot through towering Douglas fir trees, another tighter shot with several stars visible, a couple “diamond ring” shots as the sun first emerged and blew the camera’s little mind:

    https://1drv.ms/f/s!Apqt3RFx3pyGp0mN29_8drTd5NJb

    …and here is the link to a copy of Roman’s card: https://1drv.ms/i/s!Apqt3RFx3pyGp0rKC6cX9SLibpNn
    When you rub your thumb over the dark disk of the moon on the stamp, its face is revealed as if full—pretty neat!
    The obverse is the Ward Hooper poster pictured above urging folks to view the eclipse atop Mt. Borah, Idaho’s tallest, 12,662′, peak, right on the line of most totality.

    I was about 40 miles SW of Borah Peak, camped on the bank of the Big Wood River’s north fork, at about 7,500′, surrounded by the newly designated Hemingway-Boulder Mtns Wilderness. In spite of forewarnings, I spent way too much time & attention fiddling with my cameras. A minute and 47 seconds went by more quickly than I thought, but I did get a couple good direct glimpses during totality.

    • Gary Richardson September 13, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      …oops! Correction: The Borah Peak eclipse poster is by Tyler Nordgren (not Ward Hooper, a Boise poster artist with a similar style).

  • Al Chambers August 21, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    The weather forecast for Michigan, with about 80% totality, steadily deteriorated through the weekend, but Monday’s actual eclipse was a mixed bag, which produced an interesting memory. We ended up using firm paper plates with a small hole in the middle to capture the progression. During the hour and a half of eclipse, the clouds came and went several times, so we were able to watch the moon’s pre-determined movement only intermittently. Therefore, we also watched television and the NASA feed, including the exciting times of totality over Oregon, my treasured Idaho, and Wyoming. I thought CBS News did the best job because they produced a real three-hour program whereas the other networks and cable channels seemed to be treating the eclipse like an election campaign evening with separate reports from each of the totality states reporting in. One difference was that the progression was west to east. I did keep switching channels as I usually do, but my three favorite pieces on CBS were showing the magnificent Wyoming Grand Teton from gorgeous to dark to bright again and then the very end of the American eclipse in Charleston, South Carolina, where for two minutes we saw a city at night when it was just before three in the afternoon. I also cheered when CBS returned to Madras, Oregon, to show the final moments of the eclipse, just as they had opened almost three hours earlier with the beginning of the path to totality above the same small Oregon town.

    I was disappointed when the news channels later in the day led their broadcasts advancing President Trump’s upcoming evening speech on Afghanistan instead of the Total Eclipse, but I probably would have done the same if I were making the lineup for the early evening show. That still is the structure of real news.

  • James M Kelly August 21, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    From The Department of Negative Results: We were waiting close to the western edge of the continental US in the San Francisco Bay area. As they say in the telecom industry it’s all in the last mile. For us that is unfortunate since we had our usual fog. Lots of people were seen looking, with hope, to the heavens, but not being rewarded. At least a lot of Americans had a great time over the track of eclipse.

  • Terry Culver August 21, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    It was wondrous if not quite like what I had thought. More sensitive watchers than I at the Illinois farm noticed the gradual drop of ten or so degrees in temperature and humidity. They also noted the retreat of butterflies and the sounding of evening insects & frogs. The quick sunset & rise were a seamless and beautiful soft red. And when the solar eclipse had brightened to full sun there were shafts of lightning in a blessedly late arriving storm. So there was reason after all to remember our classmate, Rob Symonds.

  • Chris Cory August 21, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Do post, here, more ’62 Eclipsograms!

    Here in East Hampton, Long Island, we traded around our two pairs of Roman-Weil-donated goggles with employees of my wife’s paper, the East Hampton Star. Two grandchildren got up early and were dispatched, with survival rations, to wait in line for 90 minutes to be first for the 150 googles given away at the nearby public library (which ran out). All, properly-cautious, drifted in and out between watching the NASA site’s network-like streamed presentation with images from their spotter plane, satellite, weather balloons, and the space station, and got hydrated on home-made lime aid. No orgasm,but a genuine fascinationgasm, encouraged by the sound of quiet comments from a loose crowd of nearby neighbors drifting over the back fence.

    My thanks to Roman for his prescient preview for our website (nearly two years ago) and for spotting the lovely illustrations for our special eclipse issue, and to Al Chambers, that wily old producer of space TV coverage, for his persistent enthusiasm and story-making savvy.

    If any of you had troubles opening our website, please notify me (chris@christophercory.com).

    Comments on this website caper always welcome!

  • Jean M. August 21, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Sun was obscured by the moon 54.9% here in midcoast Maine; all lobsters wore eye protection. Just kidding, of course, but locally the day was pretty hazy, so the eclipse wasn’t terribly dramatic from this vantage point. Maybe it’ll be more dramatic next time! 🙂

  • Art Laffer August 21, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    I’m sitting here in my office. It’s 7am, August 21, 2017, and the weather forecast is clear skies for the whole day. The faux night will shortly descend upon us. Like most Big Oddities, it’s got my attention. I’ll fill you in after it’s over.

    Boola Boola.
    ABL

  • Jonathan Ater August 21, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Portland awoke this morning to gorgeous, clear, blue skies. The sun crept over Portland’s West Hills and up above the Doug Fir trees on the west side of Council Crest. As the sun crested the tree tops, the moon crept over the upper right arc of the sun. Gradually, the sun was reduced to a small crescent on the lower left quadrant. At 10:19, the top edge began to flicker, surely a partial corona. It as cool enough for a sweater. It was quiet. It was dusky, not dark. After a couple of minutes, the crescent appeared clearly in the upper right quadrant, the flickering stopped, the dusk retreated, and it was over. According to NASA, we experienced a 99.46% eclipse. No traffic. No standing around. No countdown. No orgasmic experience. Just five of us appreciating the wonder of nature.

  • Lee Bolman August 20, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    I read Roman’s promise of an “orgasmic experience” while waiting today at the Kansas City airport (right in the band of totality) for a flight to Boston. The flight was full so I wasn’t alone in fleeing the eclipse a day before it arrived. I could blame my exodus on the likelihood that the eclipse won’t be visible through the predicted cloud cover in KC, but it’s mostly that the phenomenon, special as it is, doesn’t excite me that much, and I figure it’ll look fine on HDTV. I hate to miss an orgasmic experience, because I’m finding that they seem to be negatively correlated with advancing age, but I hope those who witness it are appropriately blown away by the Splendor of Totality.

  • Al Chambers August 20, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    A friend asked me if I knew any way to stream the eclipse. I answered that as the forecast for Michigan has gone downhill, I had looked for this alternative– at the same time remaining hopeful the forecast will be incorrect for tomorrow’s early afternoon weather.

    Here is good piece from Vox, one of my favorite, creative web sites for visuals and graphics, although certainly with a clear “point of view” on political issues. No real surprise, NASA offers the most.

    https://www.vox.com/2017/8/20/16171290/solar-eclipse-2017-how-to-watch-at-home

  • Ann & Biggie Moore August 19, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Eli

    Your Shake it Down CD is listened to lots at our home. Any chance you might play at our Evergreen Jazz Festival again? It’s going strong as ever the last weekend of July every year. Can we do any advance work for you with the organizers?

  • JOHN RICHARDS August 19, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Al Chambers informed me that I have the distinction (albeit perhaps a bit of a dubious one) of being the only member of our class who resides in the state of Nebraska, which now falls within the path of totality for the solar eclipse on Monday. I guess this status may well turn Nebraska from being a “Fly Over State” into a “Fly Into State” at least for the near term anyway. And perhaps the total eclipse event may cause all of the smart phone zombies to look away, up and around themselves. I remember a similar solar eclipse back in 1954 when I was in the 8th Grade in Southern California, standing on a playground, looking around through unexposed camera film. However, this time around the current weather forecast is portending clouds and thunderstorms throughout Monday for at least Omaha and perhaps other areas along the Path of Totality in Nebraska. Unfortunately, that may well put a bit of a damper on the upcoming “hysteria.” If so, I will take a few moments to note the darkening landscape and ruminate on the 63 years between eclipses. In any event, it would appear that Zeus in one of his many perverse moments may have decided to intervene this time around in order to keep Artemis and Apollo from making all out spectacles of themselves.

  • Boyer Willis B. August 19, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Saw a TSE years ago on Vinylhaven Maine
    Punched a pencil in a box, watched the TSE for about an hour
    Dark sky, birds go crazy, sea calmed down.
    Then, smiles all around.

    Are our classmates having anticipatory hallucinations, existential revelations?
    My my!
    Or are they, like me, yawning at an event possessing the deep significance of an odometer rolling over?

  • Bill Hoyt August 19, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Ordered glasses from eBay, but, alas, they have not yet come, and I can’t believe that they are going to get here before the eclipse on Monday afternoon. Anyone want two pairs of eclipse glasses for the upcoming 2045 eclipse. Just think, e will be 105 then.

  • Clyde Patton August 19, 2017 at 6:43 am

    Relayed by Al Chambers
    I have bought my glasses but haven’t decided where to go for the best unobstructed viewing. Hope you are doing well.

  • Tony Brooks August 18, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    We have lived in Jackson, WY full-time for 20 years, and part-time since 1980. We will be on the Maine coast for the Eclipse. We hear of crowds coming into our area that will overwhelm the infrastucture of Teton County. The estimated visitor count of 3-500,000 compares with the normal population of 600,000 in Wyoming. The estimates for Teton County are 30-65,000 people coming in WITHOUT a place to stay. There are 3 paved main roads in our county. Can they withstand the onslaught? My adult life has no desire to be with a huge crowd for an event of 2 mins. and 40 seconds. I don’t like crowds that much, or would not have chosen to live in Wyoming in the first place.

  • Al Chambers August 18, 2017 at 10:56 am

    As for the Chambers, we plan to be with our immediate family (kids and grandkids) at a cottage on a lake that we have rented for a week near Ann Arbor. We will have visibility of about 80%, which is a bit more than in Tbilisi in 1968. It has been a gorgeous summer in Michigan, but, for now, the forecast for Monday is partly cloudy. We will have eclipse glasses and also peephole contraptions. Here is a worthwhile video from YouTube on different ways to prepare. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqMN3cVxUk4

  • Al Chambers August 18, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Folks,
    Following up on Roman’s words and praise for the Yale Astronomy department, here is the Yale Daily News coverage of the plans for Monday’s Total Solar Eclipse. The OCD publishes on a limited summer schedule. https://news.yale.edu/2017/08/17/solar-eclipse-offers-information-inspiration-and-awe?utm_source=YNemail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ynalumni-08-17-17

  • Phil Proctor August 18, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Phil Proctor relayed this meme making the rounds on the web: [click to view image]

  • Henry Clay Childs August 17, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    You were absolutely right, Christopher, about this member of our class being right along the line of totality. There are numerous gatherings that I am assiduously avoiding, preferring to be on my deck alone with the moon and the Great Spirit. I have just seen that the weather is not about to cooperate, so there may be a fine mist of anguish rising from the surrounding hills. I will be glad to report on any peculiarities of a spiritual or psychic nature.

  • Roman L Weil August 17, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Eclipse glasses. you’ve read about the scams and faulty glasses out there. I still have a couple of dozen safe ones I’ll give you if you can get me by Thursday afternoon or Friday morning a FedEx account number and a delivery address for Sat or Monday morning delivery in time to do you good. no charge for the glasses. mfg’d by Rainbow Symphony, which you’ll see on the Amazon list of approved manufacturers. I can ship by 3:00p MDT on Thursday and then again on Friday. you need to provide FedEx deliverable address and your charge-to account number. I’m in Jackson WY and next day delivery doesn’t work from here.

    Roman

    • Chris Cory August 18, 2017 at 9:46 am

      Great offer, Roman. Mine arrived yesterday. A friend who has a pair, not from you, says they seem totally opaque till you look through them to the sun, at which point it looks like an orange.

  • Bert Culver August 17, 2017 at 8:42 am

    And then I remembered lovely, strong, friendly Rob Symonds, who over a half century past was struck by lightening high in the New Hampshire, Vermont mountains. He was inspecting a house he was building. I think of that and hope, God willing, it was a thunderous, joyful bolt, robed in clouds of many colors, something that might have been out of a Vince Scully lecture with him pounding the screen full of a John Steuart Curry imagining of Jacob’s Ladder descending on a Negro cabin to joyfully ride a soul to heaven. Sweet Rob. Wherever I am, in a farm field, on that high bridge, pulled over in endless traffic, engines lulled to silence, I will be thinking, I hope, of how marvelous this world truly is and how marvelous life is, however long, however short.

  • Bert Culver August 16, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    The only TE was in 1918 when more Johnnies were amarching home than flivers on the roads. The last such event on this path was in 1442. Talk about your pre-Columbian! Some friends and I plan to get an earlier and earlier start to get across the Jefferson Barracks Bridge (think how much that colonial Father have desired to see, inspect, devour an eclipse!) and get thirty miles south to a farm. No such thing as a motel room anywhere. ETD has gone from 9AM to 6AM and I think it’s all too likely we get jammed up well short of the Big Muddy. No traffic survey can really be precise because there is no automotive event to compare. I read in the NYT that eclipse followers to the manjack and womanjill expect primal and respectful crowds. I hope so. A weatherman gave a presentation at my residence and he did spend some time on TE, but much, much more on the thirty or so minutes of dusk leading up to TE and the same as dawn afterwards. He said the temperature would be dropping from ten to 15 degrees and a kind of wind would last throughout. Then he remarked that the mountains on the moon would be causing the sun rays to be bent or distorted so that the most amazing red/blue/green dusk and then dawn. He could only compare these events to people caught at high altitude, usually dangerous, when the sun is swirled about by glorious, frightening wisps of clouds.

  • Bert Culver August 16, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    St. Louis is smack on the northern edge with several seconds of the Big Event to over two minutes to the southwest.

  • Gary Richardson August 16, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Relayed by Al Chambers.
    Here are a couple shots of our campsite on the N.Fk., Big Wood River, 10 miles north of Ketchum. [Click here to view photos.]

  • Chris Cory August 16, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Classmates: A word to the eyes. Please let me underscore the need for serious eye protection during any part of the solar eclipse, full or partial. It seems the rising rush to see it, egged on for the first time in US history by social media, is being cruelly corrupted by greedy, fly-by-day exploiters trying to profit from worthless knock-off lenses. The sun is thousands of times brighter than the moon. Because eyes can’t signal pain when retinas are burned, this could leave substantial numbers of unsuspecting people in the US partially blind. Please don’t be among them. Please heed Roman’s warning, and if you don’t have protective lenses in which you are utterly confident, check the following links and be certain: https://www.cnet.com/news/solar-eclipse-2017-best-glasses-viewers/. Also https://eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety/iso-certification. Or don’t even peek. Watch it on TV and reflect on the wonder of it all and the other chances you’ve passed up, for good or ill! In advance, thanks.

  • Steve Buck August 16, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Fascinating. Any advice on where one could get eye protection in the Washington, D.C. area, or even better, Bethesda, Md.?

  • Tom Triplett August 16, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Hi Chris. Living near Bend, Oregon we are at the epicenter. We could lease out our hay field for significant do re mi. Better to share solely with family and let horse have their munchies.

  • Jonathan Ater August 15, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Deanne and I will have a terrific, open sky view from our front deck in Portland – if the skies are clear – just 44 miles from the center line of the eclipse. We may not have totality, but we will be close, and we won’t have to contend with any traffic. We’re likely to have some family over. Some may even come in their jammies.

    • John Carr August 19, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      Jonathan: Sounds cozy, but I don’t remember a “front deck” at your house. Is this a new specially-built construction? I have been meaning to call or write to catch up on things, but held back for fear you might perceive it as a sly hook to get a viewing invitation. Don’t know what the degree of totality will be for us down here in the SF Bay area, but I have to say that I’m just not interested. We had a near-total down here some years ago. Chris remembers stopping the car in GG Park, where she and the kids got out to observe. They all remember it – me, not so much. Best to you, Deanne and your big, wonderful extended family.

      John

  • George Grumbach August 15, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    When I said that for me it was totality or nothing, a friend agreed that a partial eclipse is to a total eclipse what kissing a man is to marrying him, or what flying in a plane is to crashing in one.

  • Gary Richardson August 7, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    In an email to Al Chambers, Gary wrote:

    We’re camped up on the North Fork of the Big Wood River about 10 miles north of Ketchum until the eclipse, where we will experience about 1:45 minutes of totality. We’ve been coming up here for several years for the (free) Sun Valley Summer Symphony which lasts three weeks each summer. Tonight, Beethoven’s “String Quartet #12” at the Church of the Big Wood; the Bronfman Quartet has been working its way thru the late quartets the past five years. The full orchestra is comprised mostly of 1st & 2nd chairs from across the country. This year the finale, Verdi’s “Requiem,” is on Aug 17, so we’re staying on thru the weekend and inviting friends & family to join us for an eclipse party. Come on up!

    Directions from Ketchum: https://1drv.ms/f/s!Apqt3RFx3pyGoB1aiDshrltrqDSC You may share with any classmates who may be in the area. Our campsite is surrounded by the newly designated Hemingway-Boulder Mtns Wilderness, yet we can drive our ’84 London-Aire RV to it right on the river!

    It is very smoky but may obviate the need for special eclipse glasses, of which we have 10 pair, if it’s otherwise clear.

    • Chris Cory August 16, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      Gary — from what I’ve been reading to write my posting about goggles, however much your heart may be on fire, smoke may not get in your eyes enough to protect them.