Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse Day 2017!

Hope everyone had a lovely Eclipse Day yesterday!

We ended up having a little impromptu Eclipse Party at work. It started here around noon, which worked out perfectly as that was everyone's lunchtime. I walked out to the lake behind our building, thinking I'd be the only one out there, but I was surprised to see about ten or twelve people already there. By the time totality hit at 1:24 PM, there were probably fifty or sixty people staring up at the sky. A few of the managers even came out to gawk as well. Eh, what the heck? It only happens every twenty eight years or so!

My home town of Evansville was in the path of 99% totality. I thought for sure that'd be enough to snuff out the light altogether, but apparently not. It got kind of twilight-ish, but it never actually got completely dark, which was kind of disappointing. Shows how powerful the sun is, though— even 1% of it is enough to light the world! I guess if I want to see darkness, I need to be in the 100% totality path. Lesson learned.

Even though it didn't get completely dark, it was still a pretty cool experience. It was like it was evening, but the sun was somehow still overhead, which looked just plain wrong. It got dark enough that the parking lot lights came on! And the thrice-damned cicadas started chirping. And the temperature actually dropped! It was a very miserable and muggy 97ยบ before the eclipse started, but it was actually quite comfortable during totality!

A thought occurred to me while watching the eclipse (and yes, I had the special glasses on). All my life I've heard tales of how ancient civilization would freak out during eclipses, fearing the sun was going out or being eaten by a giant demon. I wonder how much of that is actually true, and how much is myth?

Most ancient people had a pretty good understanding of the sky— far more than the average citizen does today! They kind of had to, as they kept track of the planets and stars to determine when to plant their crops, when the rainy season started and so on. They probably understood that every now and then the moon would cover up the sun for a spell.

Even if they were ignorant of eclipses, they don't last all that long. Four minutes, tops. That doesn't really seem like enough time for an entire ancient civilization to freak out. Seems like people would think, "Hey, what's going on? It's noon and getting dark already? OH MY GOD, IT CAN ONLY MEAN A GIANT SKY SNAKE IS DEVOURING THE SU... OK, it's back. Get back to work, everyone!"

Lastly, I'll leave you with this. For months before Eclipse Day, the media warned everyone ad infinitum that staring at the sun is a bad thing that can cause irreparable eye damage, and to only view it through specially approved glasses.

So of course this happened at the White House yesterday...

And this.

And even this.

I... I just don't know anymore.

In the interest of fairness, this also happened a bit later. But Jesus Jetskiing Christ...

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