Solar Eclipse 2017 is Finally Here!

Eclipse related mystical happenings are predicted at Nebraska's Car Henge. Photo provided by author

On August 21st a very special event will happen across a wide swath of the United States. The sun, moon and Earth will line up in an exact line resulting in a total solar eclipse. When the perfect orientation occurs, the moon will exactly cover our view of the sun resulting in a dark shadow here on terre firma.

On average, a total solar eclipse occurs somewhere on Earth about every 18 months but if you look at the average time any particular spot on Earth has a total eclipse the time interval is normally several hundred years. Partial eclipses are more frequent, but viewing a partial eclipse is like hooking a fish and then losing it before it’s boated.

So what’s the big deal with them? Realistically, it’s not much different than walking under a shade tree on a sunny day. You are in the sun, then in the shade, then back in the sunshine again.

In legend, total eclipses are responsible for births, deaths, suicides, chickens laying double -yolked eggs, salmon swimming downstream, kingdoms won or lost in battle and dozens of other mystical happenings. Mystical happenings are much more fun than walking under a shade tree.

Not everywhere in the US will get the total affect. Around here, the moon will obscure about 90 percent of the sun. (That’s like hooking a fish, only to lose it right at the net.) That’s still and impressive sight, but may not produce enough shadow to cause birds to fly backwards or lightning bugs to light up during the day.

The main event will occur here about 1:20 PM Central Daylight Time. The whole thing takes the better part of three hours starting just before noon. If you want to see a cartoonish visualization of what the eclipse will be like where ever you are watching go to:

https://eclipsemega.movie/, click on “simulator,” then enter your location in the search bar.

Experts warn against looking at the phenomenon bare-eyed or with normal sunglasses for danger of going blind. My brother did it once about 50 years ago and can still see just fine. I only watched the event back then through a pinhole camera I made from a cardboard box. I did view another partial eclipse through a welders mask with no affect.

If you want to get under the real deal, you’ll need to travel. The totality swath will run diagonally across the continent from Oregon down to Georgia in a swath about 70 miles wide. A person has many choices of places to go for viewing and to possibly get in on the mystical occurrences. Many cities along the swath are having special events to celebrate the eclipse.

How to choose where? Portland, OR is out due to its prevalent cloud cover. I’d rule out Southern Illinois and points east for the same reason.

The party town I’m picking is Alliance, Nebraska. It’s hardly ever cloudy, it’s hardly ever hot and humid and they have the perfect venue to wait for the mystical apparitions – Carhenge!
Modeled after the mystical Stonehenge in the UK, this “henge” assembles the same colors and shapes arranged to – well no one knows the real reason other than the huge obelisks seem to be positioned according to solar angles. The difference is this “henge of the prairie” is constructed of junked automobiles instead of giant stones. My guess is if something mystical occurs on August 21st, this will be the spot.

Come join the “Eclipticals” gathered to celebrate the event in Alliance. Enjoy the eclipse, wait for the mystic apparitions and double-yolker omelets are going to be the breakfast special at Ken and Dale’s Diner on main street on August 22nd.

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Mike Schoonveld
Mike Schoonveld grew up hunting and fishing in rural Northwest Indiana. In 1986 he piggy-backed a career as an outdoor writer onto his already long tenure as a wildlife biologist with the Indiana DNR. Now retired from his DNR position, Schoonveld is a U.S. Coast Guard licensed boat captain, operates Brother Nature Charters on Lake Michigan and spends much of his time trailering his boat to fishing hotspots around Indiana and the Midwest. Mike can be reached through his website www.brother-nature.com or visit Mike's Outdoor World Blog at www.bronature.com

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