Monday, August 21, 2017

Carbondale celebrates eclipse, if clouds don't spoil the party

Overcast skies above Carbondale Sunday
    CARBONDALE — “Happy eclipse, guys!” a young woman on a bicycle called out to complete strangers on a busy Saturday night in the heart of this bustling downstate college town. Happiness seemed a central theme — alongside science, commerce and partying — as tens of thousands of visitors converged for what has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse, the intercession of the clockwork cosmos into our disordered daily doings.
     Happy, that is, if the weather holds, an increasingly dicey proposition as clouds moved in Sunday afternoon.
     “There are more ways we can get clouds here than not,” said Jim Cantore, a meteorologist and host for The Weather Channel, arriving on the Southern Illinois University campus to do a broadcast, fretting about nearby storm systems. “I’m worried about a few clouds. That would be a disaster.”
   Rain or shine, clear or cloudy, on Monday the moon will move between the earth and the sun. The 70-mile-wide shadow the moon casts will sweep across the length of the continental United States, starting at Salem, Oregon, at 9:06 a.m., Pacific time, moving southeastward at about 1,500 miles an hour, passing directly over Caspar, Wyoming, where amateur astronomers are having their annual meeting, brushing Kansas City and St. Louis, then reaching Carbondale at 1:21 p.m., plunging the area into darkness for 2 minutes and 39 seconds — 2 seconds shy of the longest period of “totality” in the country, before hurrying onward, reaching Charleston, South Carolina an hour later and passing on to the Atlantic ocean.
     Being in the path of “totality,” the moon will completely cover the sun — the two discs are approximately the same size, by a fluke of nature; the sun is 400 times larger than the moon...

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Astronomy buffs attended lectures before the eclipse. 


  1. Ray Bradbury's 'All Summer in a Day' might be good to read should clouds gather.

    Not sure there are flukes of nature, but a good column. The universe is unfolding as it should.

  2. "Sun Moon Earth" by Tyler Nordgren, which my book club just read, is a well-written, interesting, and informative book about eclipses and man's understanding of them over the ages.

  3. A day for science and scientists.

    Such a welcome break from having politicians and preachers explain the universe to us. Funny how there is always a self-serving agenda when a non-scientist is explaining the universe to us.

  4. Wonder if there are any doubters out there, people who will be holding their stopwatches at the predicted time and shouting in triumph, "Those scientists are wrong again! They said 11:56 and here it's 11:57 and I don't see nothing yet!"


  5. Wonder if Ozzy sang Bark at the Moon, 9 miles from Carbondale at Moonstock....cloudy here very little visibilty. About a minute in the last bite could be seen.

  6. I'm glad you and Carbondale got your seconds of totality. Twenty miles further downstate in Karnak, the clouds took it all. Nevertheless we did get the localized total darkness, the temperature drop, the crickets, frogs and birds starting their nightly song. All very powerful reminders of what we take for granted every day, and how far science has come along in explaining the world we inhabit. Some of our campground neighbors dashed away in their cars to escape that clouds. Some succeeded, and shared with us their photos and stories of snake shadows. If we’re all back in seven years, I’ll try it again; and if the clouds return, I think I’ll follow the sun chasers.


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