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Total Eclipse Today, Next One In 2024

August 21, 2017 Featured No Comments

Today’s total solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime event. there hasn’t been an eclipse in the St. Louis region in the last 400 years. Carbondale IL, a 2 hour drive, is a good viewing spot today.  Can’t get out of work for this once-in-a-lifetime event?  Mark your calendar for Monday April 8, 2024. That’s right, another total eclipse will cross the United States, including Carbondale, IL

Yes, just 2,422 days until the next eclipse!

Those not in today’s path of totality will not experience the moon’s shadow the way the rest of us will. I tried on my solar glasses and to my eyes, with early cataracts, was a tiny spot. I’m not going to look up at the sun, today I want to experience day become night, and then back to day a couple minutes later. I want to feel the temperature drop.

This image shows how the total eclipse will go through part of the St Louis region.
Lots of areas in South St. Louis within the path of totality

Eclipse2017.org explains why you need to be within the grey path of totality:

Our task is to convince people who are not in the path of totality, that they simply must travel into the path, in order to see one of the most spectacular things they will ever see in their life. The task is difficult, because it is natural to believe that if one is “close” to the path, one will see something that is “pretty good”. But just as the person who only smells the meal outside the steakhouse remains hungry, so too do those who observe the eclipse from outside the path of totality end the day wondering what, indeed, all the fuss was about.

For those who choose to experience this eclipse outside the path, a partial eclipse is all they will see. Even if the sun is 99.9% eclipsed for these observers, they will not experience the full, jaw-dropping, knee-buckling, emotionally-overloading, completely overwhelming spectacle that is totality.

Partial eclipses are somewhat interesting, in that with the proper eye protection (which MUST be used at all times), one can see the moon moving slowly across the face of the sun. But there is no climax, no culmination of the event, no exhilarating moment of true beauty in the sky above them. The event is not memorable, not life-changing, not anything to inspire one to join the ranks of “umbraphiles” – “shadow-loving” persons who travel the world to the most remote locations, in anticipation of experiencing those few fleeting seconds of wonderment inside the shadow of the moon.

For those outside the path, there is no dramatic moment of totality, no dance of Baily’s Beads around the edge of the moon’s disk, no intense darkening of the skies, no stars and planets suddenly revealing themselves against an impossible twilight, no corona flashing into view (the otherworldly beauty of which makes even veteran total eclipse observers gasp in amazement), and no primordial fear which sinks ever so slightly even the modern heart. There is no pitch-blackened disk of the sun, no discernable temperature drop, no impossible nighttime during the day, no scintillating chromosphere or glorious prominences, no 360-degree sunset effect around the horizon, no uncontrollable shouts of emotional overload from the assembled crowd, and no lingering post-eclipse sensation of certainty that you have just done one of the coolest things you’ll ever do in your life.

A partial eclipse is interesting but forgettable, while a total eclipse is a memorable, life-changing event which burns itself into memory – and never fades. And so we, who have seen this sight, ask you to join us on this momentous day, and do everything you possibly can to see it with us. But you must remember that “close” is not close enough; in order to see the eclipse in all its glory, you simply must…

Get thee to the path!

Later today I’ll watch video taken by others of the eclipse, but I plan to be within the path of totality — as close to the centerline as i can get. Can’t drive an hour or more? Get to South St. Louis.

Based on yesterday’s non-scientfic Sunday Poll I’m preaching to the choir.

Q: Agree or disagree: Meh…solar eclipse…I won’t be in the path of totality tomorrow. No biggie.

  •  Strongly agree 3 [12.5%]
  • Agree 2 [8.33%]
  • Somewhat agree 2 [8.33%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [4.17%]
  • Somewhat disagree 0 [0%]
  • Disagree 4 [16.67%]
  • Strongly disagree 11 [45.83%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [4.17%]

Enjoy the experience!

— Steve Patterson


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