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More than likely, you’ve heard or read about the “Great American Eclipse” that is going to happen on August 21, 2017. The beauty of this event is that it is literally is going to travel from one end of the United States to the other; from sea to shining sea. You can’t get more American than that! So, where are the best places to visit for the best view of this amazing once in a lifetime opportunity? Just follow the Path of Totality!

The line of totality of this eclipse is calculated to hit 14 states and 6 major U.S. cities. Starting in Salem, Oregon at 10:18 a.m Pacific time, then Casper Wyoming right directly on the centerline, Lincoln, Nebraska, St. Louis, Missouri, our home sweet home in Nashville, Tennessee, and finally, it will blaze off the beaches of Charleston, South Carolina and into the Atlantic. Of course, there are many more cities and towns in between that will be more closely affected by this great eclipse. If you manage to get the time off from work, it could be just a short day trip away from where you live. According to the United States census, 12 million people actually live within the line of totality. 48 million people live just 100 miles away from it, and 84 million live 200 miles away. So your chances for seeing this eclipse, are not likely to be eclipsed.

It’s been 38 years since the last eclipse on February 26, 1979. That eclipse had a much smaller totality path. The last time an eclipse crossed the entire United States from the west coast to the east coast was in 1918. So, you can understand why astronomers, dedicated eclipse chasers, and average everyday people are super excited about this. It doesn’t even happen every once and a blue moon! This eclipse is historical and we just have to pray that the weather and clouds cooperate, because yeah, that’s a problem.

Remember those dedicated eclipse chasers I mentioned earlier. Well, if you are planning on booking a hotel in an eclipse city, beware! Hotels in the line of totality are booking up fast because eclipse chasers from all over the world are flocking to “The Path”. Especially in Hopkinsville, Kentucky where the point of greatest eclipse is calculated to hang out for a bit longer. Yes, Hopkinsville will get a full 2 minutes and 40 seconds of totality, during which animals may become confused and think that it is twilight for that brief time. Everything will be as dark as night. The temperature will even drop a few noticeable degrees. It will be instant night in the middle of a hot summer day. Talk about upsetting the balance of nature! Oh well, for 2 minutes and some change, I say it’s worth it!

Many corporations are using the lucrative potential of this tremendous celestial occasion to take advantage of solar eclipse loving suckers. The United States Postal Service has released a new forever stamp. It is the first time in history that they are using thermochromic ink for one of their official stamps. I personally, cannot wait to get my fingers on these cosmically cool stamps. When you first see the stamps, the image is of the Great American Eclipse, but when you put your thumb on it, and warm it up, the moon appears bright and full. When it cools off, the blackness of the total eclipse returns!

Buy your total eclipse forever stamps now! They will always be usable even if the price of a stamp goes up. Plus, these stamps are a part of history and the option to purchase them will not be around forever. See what I mean? Even I am a sucker and I don’t care! But everybody needs stamps. Alaska Airlines is also getting involved in the hype and excitement of this total eclipse by announcing a contest! One lucky person and their plus one will get to fly parallel with the eclipse as it soars across the sky. The flight is scheduled to leave Portland, OR prompty at 7:30 a.m. PST so that it will be at the spot over the Pacific ocean where the eclipse will start it’s path. Then, the plane will race within the path of totality, finally landing back in Portland. The rest of the airplane will be occupied by astronauts, very serious, wealthy eclipse chasers and scientists.

Maybe, it wouldn’t hurt, at this point to tell some, who may not know exactly, what is happening in our solar system when an eclipse occurs. And also why total eclipses are so rare. Most people know, that a solar eclipse happens when the moon crosses the path between the earth and the sun. It does this once every 30 days or so. But then why is it that we do not see a solar eclipse once a month? The main reason behind this is the fact that most of the Earth is ocean. When the moon’s shadow crosses the face of the Earth, it is usually in a part that is not populated by humans. Also, the shadow the sun projects will hit the Earth at different angles due to the Earth’s natural tilt. So, it just means that a solar eclipse is a highly predictable lottery of where and when it will occur. For example, after this Great American eclipse, there is actually going to be another one that makes landfall in America in 2024! Not so far off eh? And some areas will even fall in the path of totality both times; like, parts of southern Illinois.

To view the eclipse, you want to make sure that you have special UV protection eyewear. When the eclipse is not total, it is very harmful to your eyes to look directly at it. You can make your own eye protection using different methods, many of which are available with step by step instructions on youtube. Or you can get really err um, creative... and use the screen door of your microwave or a welder’s helmet to view the eclipse. Or you can do the easiest and most commercial option. You can purchase eclipse glasses online or in a store that sells them. They are really cheap and make a great souvenir to mark the occasion in your scrapbook. I’m getting 11 glasses from for about $5-$6.

Whichever safe way that you choose to view this great American eclipse, it does not matter as long as you go outside at the specified time for your area and really experience this rare phenomenon for yourself. You don’t wanna miss it! / Issue 194 - September 0881
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