THE STRAIGHT UP
LOOK UP! Let’s Nerd Out Over the Solar Eclipse
y now, I’m sure everyone knows a solar eclipse, which has been christened “The Great American Eclipse,” will take place right above our heads on Monday, August 21. The eclipse will be visible across North America, but we here in Columbia are lucky to be right in middle of the path of totality, or the path the moon’s shadow makes as it crosses the sun. This means we’ll be able to witness the sheer, cosmic awesomeness of the moon completely covering the sun. You might have seen pictures of solar eclipses or watched one onTV, but experiencing such an event for yourself is unforgettable. I can’t wait! The eclipse starts at 1:13 p.m. and full light won’t be back until after 4 p.m. The “big show” begins at 2:41 p.m., and the moon will completely cover the sun for a full 2 minutes and 30 seconds, which is the longest total eclipse on the East Coast. Did you know stars and bright planets will be visible during that two minutes? Or that the temperature will drop at least five degrees? And when the sun comes back, birds sing as if it were daybreak! How cool is that!?
If I am coming off as really nerdy about this event, it’s because I am! When something is unusual or literally out of this world, you can bet I’m going to nerd out about it. Back in the early 2000s, I was still in dental school, and the Earth was about to see an incredible meteor shower. My friends and I were super excited! Astronomers reported this shower — it might have been the Leonids meteor shower — would be the most active meteor shower in decades. At least a thousand meteors would streak across the sky every hour! We did our research and located the perfect area with as little light pollution as possible to watch the show. On the morning of the shower, wake-up alarms went off at 2 a.m., and we drove an hour outside of the city, where we found an open field. Bundled in our sleeping bags to combat the winter chill, we laid out in the field and watched as the night sky filled with countless shooting stars. We ended up falling asleep in the field and didn’t wake up until the sun began to rise the next morning.
light-years. The office will be open for business that Monday, but during the eclipse, everyone is invited to come watch with us. We’ll have eclipse glasses to hand out and snacks to share. What do you eat during a solar eclipse? Sun Chips and Moon Pies, of course! This is an incredible event and I cannot be more psyched to live in Columbia right now, where we will have the best view on the East Coast. To celebrate, this newsletter is 100 percent about the solar eclipse! Take a look at some of the awesome eclipse-centric articles we have featured inside. “YOU MIGHT HAVE SEEN PICTURES OF SOLAR ECLIPSES OR WATCHED ONE ON TV, BUT EXPERIENCING SUCH AN EVENT FOR YOURSELF IS UNFORGETTABLE.”
And don’t forget to look up on August 21. This will be a sight you won’t soon forget.
That meteor shower was incredible, but I bet the upcoming solar eclipse will outshine it by
– Dr. Leslie Pitner
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