Eclipses

feel weird.

I wonder if the breaking down in tears is a current phenomenon, or if it’s traditional from when most people didn’t know what was going on, and thought it was the end times?

I disagree with this, though:

…for an eclipse with specific properties (such as total versus partial, long versus short, and tropical versus arctic) to make a repeat appearance in any particular region, one has to wait while eclipses work their way around the world like a set of gears, which requires three Saroses—a length of time equal to fifty-four years and around one month, or, more precisely, thirty-three days. Because this surpasses human life expectancy in that era four thousand years ago, it’s astonishing that the cycle was noticed at all.

Only if you don’t understand that life expectancy is an average, with a high standard deviation. Many, and particularly ancient astronomers, would have likely lived much longer than average.

We were in Denver over the weekend, and went up to Wondervu Saturday might for a meeting of the Sky Watchers club (invited by Leonard and Barbara David, who have a place up there in the mountains above Boulder). One of the lecturers (retired from the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden) gave a talk on NREL’s analysis of probability of not having clouds along the entire path. He had seen the one in Aruba in the ’90s, and he and most of the people there planned to go up to Casper to see it. I’d like to, but I can’t justify time/money right now.

7 comments on this post.
  1. Eric Weder:

    Going down to see the eclipse, with a few days stay in the Black Hills. I’m not sure where we’ll end up, could be Casper or somewhere east of there possibly as far as Alliance, NE. Weather and crowds will guide our choice, we are hauling a camper trailer.

    Having never seen a total eclipse, we are hoping it’s as profound an experience as everybody claims.

    Seems like a lot of hysteria over the number of people who are actually going to travel to see it but who knows for sure?

  2. wodun:

    A lot of the places people in the media think can’t handle tourists actually get a lot of tourists on a regular basis. There are only so many rooms and camp sites, not like there will be more people than communities can handle. They probably run close to max capacity at other times of the year too.

    The articles always read like, “These hillbillies are going to freak out when they see an automobile for the first time and they live such isolated lives they have probably never encountered a human they were not related to. Don’t let them see your smartphone or they might think of you as a witch, but they could also mistake you for a god.”

    Its like the journolists can’t imagine anyone wanting to vacation in these places when there isn’t an eclipse. Says more about the journolists than it does these small communities.

  3. McG:

    My initial plan was to check it out on some webcams I know of that are in the totality path, but Mrs. McG has made arrangements that will interfere with my internet access in all kinds of ways. I’m just glad I won’t have to drive … much.

  4. Karl Hallowell:

    The path of totality passes on the south side of the Grand Tetons. I’ll be near Jackson Hole (with estimates of around half a million people in the area). Should be quite the experience (and quite the traffic jam). I’ve heard speculation that the population of Wyoming will double that weekend.

    Cloud cover is statistically more substantial than at Casper, but the odds are fairly good.

    As to the alleged life-altering nature of total solar eclipses, I have to disagree. This sounds like ad material for solar eclipse tour operators, if you ask me.

  5. Raoul Ortega:

    Have spent some time over the past few years checking out locations in Wyoming and Idaho. This last week we finally settled on what looks like the best area for our needs. One thing I learned is that both Google and Apple maps lie about where there are roads. Many are actually fence lines or power lines. And your “GPS” will put you on dirt roads if that’s the shortest route.

    The more people who gather in Jackson Hole, the better as far as I’m concerned. The Jackson airport is right on the center line. I think a lot of people don’t realize that the Tetons will be behind them as they face the eclipse. (If you want a photo of the Tetons and eclipse, you need to go to Tetonia, Idaho or farther west on Idaho-33.)

    And from what I’ve heard, the Wind River Reservation will enforce the need for trespass permits to access tribal land, and not allow any weekend camping. At least I’m counting on it.

    I saw the eclipse on Aruba (26 Feb 1998) at Rodgers Beach, and there was a cloud scare between first contact and totality. It even drizzled for a few minutes.

  6. Rand Simberg:

    Yes, the NREL guy mentioned that. Where you were on Aruba apparently mattered, too.

  7. Agent J:

    There’s a lot of buildup; you spend weeks/months/years and lots of money preparing, and then it’s over quite suddenly, so an emotional release isn’t all that surprising. And it really is a singular experience.

    I’ve been in two (clouded out my first time, 1979) and what was really funny about my clear one (1991) is that while everybody was diligently taking photos between first and second contact, we basically just cleaned up and left a few minutes after third contact. After totality, the partial phases are so much “meh.”

    I’ll be in SC, where I expect to be clouded out, but it was drivable. Booked my room in spring, 2016, and the hotel was charging regular price. I couldn’t afford to fly, and didn’t want to put my telescope & gear through the whole baggage process.