The Eclipse: A Starred Review

Before the eclipse, the group I was going to see it with and I were debating the weather–and alternate plans–and exactly how far into the line of totality places were. The weather was… not bad, for a random Monday, but pretty sketchy for watching an eclipse. So, staying was a gamble, and so was going. I looked at the radar, and wound up staying. I was the only one who did, but the radar, combined with the fact that the alternate location wasn’t as close to the center line made me wary of leaving. It seems that if you have an eclipse under patchy clouds, the longest duration is probably your best chance of seeing at least some of it.

And I wasn’t sure. There was a part of me that was heartbroken watching them pull away without me… certain that they were right and I was wrong, and it was too late to fix the mistake.

So, an hour before the eclipse, I looked up at a cloudy sky and set alarms for the beginning of transit, and also for the beginning of totality.

I was pretty sure it was going to be raining, but I figured I could still go out in the rain and enjoy the darkness.

It didn’t rain where I was, and while the clouds never cleared up completely, they were whispy enough not to be a problem in viewing the eclipse. I spent a couple of hours lying on the grass in my yard with binoculars (actually, special Sunoculars, with a sun-filter built in) watching the eclipse.

Sunoculars are another world, entirely. I got them–at a cost of mumble, mumble–because I’m pretty near-sighted and cardboard things do not always work well with my prescription. If you point them at a lamp in the house, you will not be able to tell if the lens caps are on or off by looking. They turned out to be a really nice, really clear view, and you could also see the sun-lit clouds, and the shadows of some of the leaves above me, but I was skeptical until I actually saw it. I do recommend them. The magnification was good, too.

From where I was, you could hear the loud speakers on the high-school football field, but not the crowd, itself. I think they drug in the usual sports-oriented announcer, and that he was frustrated with the lack of screaming fans. His timing was also dangerously off, as he’s telling people when to put their eclipse glasses back on. (That might be something you have to know in advance.)

I got a couple of pictures, and the best of them is the featured image for this post. I’ll either take a better camera next time, or pass on the photos, entirely. They don’t do it justice.

I didn’t see any stars, probably due to clouds, but I did feel the temperature drop.

And then, totality passed, and I watched until the clouds gathered, and blotted out the sun, right around 70 or 80%.

As for the rest of my group? Well, it was raining in alternate location, and they had to settle for an indoor picnic and a few hours of togetherness.

Take that, extroverts.

On Eclipses, Weather, and Gullibility

I’m already awake and waiting for the eclipse to begin.

The weather check is a little sketchy. Uhm… Periodic clouds, whatever that means.

There is a contingency plan, in which we drive out along the line of the eclipse until there are not periodic clouds. We are seeing an eclipse today, even if we have to use a tractor beam to drag the moon back into position.

The thing I wasn’t prepared for with this is just how many people do not care. I’m pretty much bouncing off the walls, but I’ve run into a whole lot of So What? And even a couple of people who would prefer not to see it. (Apparently, it’s creepy.)

And I’m also running into a few adults–reasonably intelligent, normal-type adults–who have no idea of either: 1.) What an eclipse is or 2.) The relative positions of the planets in the solar system.

Well, you see… there is a rumor going around that because of the alignment of Jupiter and some other planet (suggestions vary) There will be 19 days of darkness later on this year.

I would hate to accuse my boss of starting this rumor, but he does seem to be the one who benefits the most. (Doesn’t matter if you miss this, ’cause you can’t possibly miss that.)

I have tried to explain that this is not possible… that for Jupiter (even with planet X) to block out the sun, Jupiter would have to be between the Earth and the sun. This does not seem to take.

Because planets move.

There is some–we won’t call it skepticism–debate on the subject, but no actual cry of “Bullshit!”

, And aside from that, there seems to be a lot of resignation about not being able to see the eclipse. I have heard the phrase “oh well” more times than I can count, and some days, I feel like I’m completely surrounded by Eeyores.

As I may have mentioned, before… Science is important, and in the event that something is open during the eclipse, that means that individuals and families are being denied access to the event of a lifetime so that you can buy a tostada. Do NOT buy a tostada. Do not buy anything. Do not spend money to promote the idea that denying people access to science is profitable (either short-term or long-term.)

Boycott anything which is open.

Eclipses, Bowel Resections, and Priorities

I am not going in to work on the day of the eclipse.

I really can’t see giving up a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a job I think about quitting on a daily basis. It’s not a great job, and it’s not an important job. I’m not walking out of an emergency room mid-bowel resection, or anything. Not parachuting out of a fighter jet, or taking my finger out of the dyke. My being there or not… well, it just doesn’t matter.

And let’s be honest, I have enough time accrued.

We can just call that a “mental health day.” It would be incredibly bad for my mental health to work through an eclipse. Almost a concession that I don’t matter as a person.

I’m still keeping my mouth shut about this, because not everyone feels that way. Maybe it’s financial, and maybe it’s a matter of priorities, or maybe some people are teetering on the brink of being fired, anyway, but there are plenty of people who–apparently–fully intend to miss out. It’s big enough to complain over, but not big enough to do anything about. (I was just told by one of these that anyone who calls in should get suspended. For a week. DONE! )

Yes, I’m at a point where suspension sounds like free time with my manuscript. Okay. I might be the only one there.

In all honesty, it reminds me of a movie I watched a million years ago–I’ve forgotten the name–where the main character misses the only day of sunlight her planet is expecting for her lifetime.

I think she died.

The idea of missing something that big–of anyone missing it–makes me sick.

The idea of missing it for nothing… well, that’s worse. Because it is nothing. There is nothing I do that you can’t plan ahead for, and let me and my co-workers go out to see the eclipse.

So, right this second? What I want to say is plan ahead. Boycott anything that’s unnecessarily open, because those are human beings being asked to give up their chance of seeing the same thing thing you‘ve traveled around the world to see.

If you value science and education…. If it’s open, and you’re not bleeding or in labor, don’t spend money there.

In the Dark of the Eclipse

In a couple of weeks, we are having an eclipse. A full, stars come out in the daytime, drama queen of an eclipse, and we’ve been advised to prepare for it the way we’d prepare for a blizzard. Well, in a stock-up on groceries and other necessaries kind of way, not necessarily a haul out the galoshes and space heaters kind of a way.

You see, we’re expecting company.

To the tune of 90,000 outsiders.

Yup. In my little town.

And no, I think it’s fairly safe to say that we do not have 90,000 hotel rooms. I’m not even sure we have 1,000 hotel rooms. It sounds like Woodstock, except nobody’s getting paid for the crops they trample, or the litter they drop. And by the way, shop now, so that when “they” invade, you’ll still be able to eat.

And get your prescriptions.

And by the way… uhm… toilets… toilets… there was discussion of water pressure, and toilets, and traffic.

90,000 people.

I’m envisioning the streets lined with porta-potties, gawking tourists, and tonnes and tonnes of loose garbage. And most of all, I’m envisioning crowds.

Let’s be honest. If I liked crowds, I’d probably live someplace urban. Like, ya know… Times Square on New Years’ or the Tokyo subway. So, I’ll probably have to hole up in my doomsday shelter, and watch the eclipse from my back yard. You know… behind the no-trespassing signs and the electrified fence? And maybe dodging whatever science-world geek celebrities the eclipse drags in. (Rumors vary, of course.)

I’d better wind up with a funnel cake.

A-to-Z Challenge: Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner was a physicist who laid some of the groundwork for the atomic bomb. She studied independently, since the university of the time did not accept female students, and ultimately took an exam to prove she understood the material. I happen to think skipping the hassle of university classes sounds like a swell idea, personally.

She worked with Max Planck and Otto Hahn (sometimes for free), served as a nurse in World War I, before returning to her research in Berlin.

She lost her job as acting head of the chemistry department at the Kaiser Wilhelm institute after the rise of Hitler, and his race laws, and escaped to the Netherlands.

The fact that she did not share the Nobel Prize with Otto Hahn for work on Nuclear Fission is contributed largely to her gender.