History Moment By William “Doc” Halliday

Daylight of DarknessDaytime Darkness

In November of 1972 Carly Simon released a song entitled You’re So Vain. The song had been written in 1971, and became number one on the charts. One line in the song is “Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun”. This was a reference to the total eclipse that could be viewed in Nova Scotia on March 7, 1970. Most Americans won’t need a personal jet to see a total eclipse this year.

Where will you be on August 21, 2017? I am making plans to be in either Nebraska or Missouri. Our grandchildren live in Greeley, Colorado, so heading out to Western Nebraska would be easy from there. Our alternative plan is to visit my sister-in-law in St. Louis, and head south for the day. Unless you plan to spend the night in your car, you will have a difficult time finding accommodations. August 21 is the fast approaching date of the total eclipse of the sun and hotels and motels have been booked solid in the path of the eclipse for months. The curved path of this event will begin at about Newport, Oregon and run to near Charleston, South Carolina. Any rooms still available will be at a premium cost.

While an eclipse is a natural event, in some ancient cultures, solar eclipses have been attributed to supernatural causes or regarded as evil omens. A total solar eclipse can be frightening to people who are unaware of its astronomical causes. Our sun seems to disappear during what should be daylight and the sky darkens quickly, in just a matter of minutes. A maximum of two total eclipses can be seen on earth in any year. They occur at about one every eighteen months. However, total solar eclipses are rare at any particular location because totality exists only along a narrow path on the Earth’s surface traced by our moon’s umbra or shadow. This path of the eclipse is never the same. It is estimated that a total solar eclipse will occur at the same location on earth about once e very 400 years.

For almost five millenniums…

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