Lewis Cass High School, Walton, Indiana,

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The Great American Solar Eclipse

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On August 21 the “Great American Eclipse of 2017” will sweep from Oregon through Nebraska to South Carolina, the first eclipse stretching across the entire contiguous United States since June 8, 1918 and the first total eclipse in the mainland United States since 1979 per Detroit news. (Hawaii experienced a total solar eclipse in 1991.) With the entire mainland being able to see at least a partial eclipse, this rarely occurring spectacle creates a sort of buzz in the air from coast to coast, especially with younger generations who have have never seen solar eclipses.

A solar eclipse is a phenomenon that occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun to the point where the moon’s path lies directly where the sun’s path is set and the moon passes over the sun, blocking out the sun’s light and enshrouding part of the Earth in darkness. They occur only for a few moments; an average total solar eclipse lasts around 2-5 minutes, yet they leave an awestruck bewilderment in many of the people who experience it.

Three different types of eclipses naturally occur: partial, total, and annular. A partial eclipse happens when the moon covers only part of the sun, not the entire sun. This second type that does cover the entire sun and block out its light is called a total eclipse. The third type, an annular eclipse, is when the moon passes directly over the sun, but the moon fits within the boundaries of the sun and the sun gives off a circular ring of light around the moon. Annular is derived from the Latin word “annulus” which means ring. This so-called “ring of fire” around the moon differentiates annular eclipses from total or partial eclipses according to Time and Date. The Great American Solar Eclipse this August will be a total solar eclipse through parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina while the entire contiguous United States will be able to see a partial eclipse of at least 60%.

Many Native American groups had and still keep certain views and inhibitions about solar eclipses. These groups tend to try to avoid and avert their eyes from these natural occurring phenomena due to ancient legend and cultural views. The Navajo believed the moon and sun to be sacred objects; they were not supposed to gaze into either the moon or the sun for long periods of time, especially if one were carrying a baby, believing that it would affect the mind of the woman or the health of the baby. They believed that eclipses were sacred periods of time where the moon, sun, and Earth were intimately lined up. Their culture doesn’t eat, drink, or do anything until the eclipse would pass and they would resume daily life according to Indian Country Media Network. These great wonders, eclipses, were so mesmerizing to these people that they revered them and held them as gods.

Make sure to see the solar eclipse on August 21. It will pass by Indiana to the south, although we will be able to see 90% of the sun eclipsed. This eclipse will occur between 1 and 2 p.m. so even the heaviest of sleepers should be awake for the eclipse on time. If you are going to watch the eclipse, buy a pair of eclipse watching glasses; they only cost one or two dollars. Without these glasses, you can heavily damage your eyes because even though the sun isn’t visible, its rays and radiation still reach you and it’s as if you were simply staring into the sun. Be safe and enjoy this rare phenomenon, perhaps a once in a lifetime experience.

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1 Comment

One Response to “The Great American Solar Eclipse”

  1. Mack Appleton on August 23rd, 2017 10:50 am

    I like how you included information about past eclipses and what people used to think of them before we knew what we know now. You used good syntax, keeping my attention all the way through. The article included statistic information about the eclipse, making it seem like a rare occurrence that everyone should go outside to see. I’ll be looking forward the next one in 2024.

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Lewis Cass High School, Walton, Indiana,
The Great American Solar Eclipse