PROFILE: THE AMAZING UNIVERSE

imageI’m not doing an official “profile” post today because I am in Southern Illinois to see the total eclipse….I am totally beyond excited for this once in a lifetime experience!

I thought you might enjoy the following article from The Guardian from August 15, 2017, we are taking turns reading it aloud (not the driver) in the car on our five hour drive (oh my!)  Be sure to use your special glasses and enjoy the total eclipse of the sun!

“‘Most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen in my life’: US readies for total eclipse

Tyler Nordgren, a physics and astronomy professor at the University of Redlands says eclipse watchers should be prepared for a multi-sensory experience

One of Tyler Nordgren’s illustrations of the eclipse. Photograph: Tyler Nordgren

Millions of Americans will look up toward the sky on Monday 21 August and watch stars shine in the afternoon, feel the day’s heat swapped for an evening chill and hear the sounds of confused birds and animals during the first total eclipse seen in the continental US in 38 years.

The spectacular event in six days’ time will cross a strip of the country occupied by 12.2 million people, with millions more expected to travel to the 70-mile-wide eclipse path, aiming to catch a glimpse of a sight that has captured the imaginations of people for millennia.

“I’ve spent my entire life looking at the sky as an astronomer – at the Milky Way, the stars, meteor showers – and this is the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen in my life with my own eyes,” Tyler Nordgren, a physics and astronomy professor at the University of Redlands, told the Guardian.

Nordgren, who saw the total eclipse in Europe in 1999, said nothing compares to the multisensory experience a solar eclipse offers.

“The shadow of the moon moves over you, day turns to night for half an hour, the stars become visible in the middle of the day, the sun turns black and the most incredible thing – the sun’s corona: that million degree atmosphere that is invisible at all other times – suddenly you see the enormous crown, its rays of pale white spreading outward from the sun,” he said.

Map

The corona is only visible during an eclipse and will be watched closely by an army of scientists eager to take advantage of the opportunity to study the sun’s energy. Researchers will monitor the eclipse from the ground, air and space, and Nasa has invited casual observers to track temperature and cloud data on their phone to create a citizens’ scientific map of the eclipse.

The rare event is also bringing a torrent of visitors to cities located in the eclipse path. There are 200 million people who live a day’s drive away from prime viewing spots, and the US Federal Highway Administration has warned: “This isn’t your average travel weekend.”

That influx has inspired travel companies to take advantage of the demand on hotels and transport.

The travel company HipMunk found that compared to the same period in 2016, there was a 29% average increase in booking prices at seven cities in the eclipse’s path including Omaha, Nebraska; St Louis, Missouri; and Columbia, South Carolina.

Last week, car rental searches on Kayak.com for Portland, Oregon, which is an hour’s drive from a main eclipse viewing site, showed an “unusually high demand” in the city, with a 1,469% increase in car rental searches and no cars available.

eclipse science

Though solar eclipses are extraordinary and rare, scientists have been able to predict them since ancient times.

Babylonian astrologers recorded eclipses on clay tablets between at least 518 and 465 BCE and were eventually able to predict them.

Then for centuries, solar eclipses were regarded with terror. In May 1716, a London pamphlet warned that a predicted eclipse was “The Black Day, or the prospect of Doomsday”.

That shifted by the 20th century, when a journalist wrote in the Hartford (Connecticut) Courant: “Although the frequency with which solar totality occurs, and the scientific knowledge which has robbed it of the mystery and even the terror which formerly accompanied it, great value in astronomical circles is given to its recurrence.”

Nordgren, who wrote a book on the history of eclipses, plans to watch it with his family and friends.

He was a child when the last US total eclipse occurred in 1979, but missed it because he was hiding in his Portland home with the curtains drawn, afraid his eyes would be burned from watching the event. Nordgren said he realized afterwards that he had been “cheated out of a life experience”.

When he saw the eclipse in 1999, he was surrounded by scientists who were attending a conference in Budapest. He said he was excited this year to finally share the experience with his loved ones.

Nordgren said: “My hope is I have not oversold this to my wife.”

 

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Nordgren’s book on the history of solar eclipses…I for one will be getting it!

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