Humans news stories
In the realm of happy endings, it’s pretty tough to top a fairytale wedding that ends with a kiss and a total solar eclipse. So it’s understandable that couples nationwide are lining up to get married Monday, August 21, all timing their ceremonies to end when the moon covers the sun for just over two and a half minutes. This national wedding blitz will start about 10 a.m. in Oregon, where the eclipse will first be seen, and end at about 2:50 p.m. in South Carolina after the path of totality spans 14 states. At least a dozen eclipse weddings are happening in South Carolina alone.
A British scouting group from the UK has arrived in America to watch the total solar eclipse on Monday 21 August. The scouts have travelled over 4,500 miles from Salisbury, England, to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, where they’ll be able to witness the amazing event. BBC is documenting their adventures, and this article shares the video.
Millions of Americans converge on a narrow corridor spanning 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina to watch the moon blot out the midday sun August 21 for a wondrous couple of minutes in the first total solar eclipse to sweep coast to coast in 99 years. Veteran eclipse watchers warned the uninitiated to get ready to be blown away. Planetariums and museums posted “Sold out of eclipse glasses” signs on their front doors. Signs along highways reminded motorists of “Solar Eclipse Monday,” while cars bore the message “Eclipse or bust.” With 200 million people within a day’s drive of the path of totality, towns and parks are braced for monumental crowds. It is expected to be the most observed, most studied, and most photographed solar eclipse ever. Not to mention the most festive, what with all the viewing parties.
US schools along and near the coast-to-coast path spanning 14 states where the sun will be totally blacked out by the moon during the solar eclipse are taking widely varying approaches. While some districts are seizing the opportunity for ready-made science lessons, others are closing for the day or keeping kids inside because of safety concerns.
In Navajo culture, the passing of the moon over the sun is an intimate moment in which the sun is reborn when tribal members take time out for themselves. No talking. No eating or drinking. No lying down. No fussing. It’s a time of renewal, like pressing control-alt-delete on your computer, resetting everything. Across the country, many American Indian tribes are observing the August 21 total solar eclipse in similar and not-so-similar ways.
Eclipse mania is building and so is demand for the glasses that make it safe to view the first total solar eclipse to cross the US in 99 years. Lines are forming, prices are rising, and shelves are emptying as people scurry to obtain special eyewear to view the sun on August 21 as it is obscured by the passing moon. Complicating the rising demand from last-minute shoppers was a recent recall by Amazon that forced dozens of libraries, health centers and schools around the country to recall glasses they gave away or sold. One of the approved manufacturers selling the special glasses, American Paper Optics, has sold 45 million pairs over the last two years — 10 million in the last 4 weeks alone.
When we understand how myths functioned for the peoples who created them, rather than outsiders interpreting their tales, it’s easy to see how they helped to reinforce cultural norms for that culture. For instance, for the Arapaho tribe, the coupling of the sun and the moon prompted a discussion of sex and incest. In the Andes, where Inca-related people believed that the moon was whispering lies into the sun’s ear, solar eclipses provided an occasion for a discussion about the evils associated with lying. An intricate version of the another story involved the sun being eaten by a decapitated head of a Hindu demon, Rahu. The god Vishnu, warned by the sun and the moon, caught Rahu drinking the elixir of life and as punishment sliced off the demon’s head before the elixir passed through his throat. The immortal head takes his revenge on the celestial bodies by devouring them, but because he has no body, they re-emerge after he swallows them. The Florentine Codex, a ethnographic study of 16th-century Aztecs in Mexico, described a solar eclipse in particularly vivid terms: …And in all the temples there was the singing of fitting chants; there was an uproar; there were war cries. It was thus said: “If the eclipse of the sun is complete it will be dark forever. The demons of darkness will come down. They will eat men!”
If you’re heading to a geographical region of America in the direct path of the total solar eclipse on Monday (Aug. 21), you may want to check out the national wildlife refuges there, because these refuges, run by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, could be prime viewing spots for nature lovers.
John Jerit may be one of the very few people in America you could describe as “eclipse rich.” Jerit’s business, American Paper Optics—one of the major American manufacturers of NASA-approved eclipse glasses — booms every time the sun’s disk gets covered by the moon. Jerit also happens to be one of the major American collectors of visionary folk art. His sprawling collection of work by “outsider” artists is, in a literal sense, purchased with the help of celestial movements.
While the upcoming total solar eclipse in the US will be a once-in-a-lifetime sky show for millions, there’s a small group of people who have experienced it all before and can’t get enough of it. Veteran eclipse chasers spend lots of money and craft intricate plans all to experience another mid-day darkening of the sky. Many of them work in science and related fields and travel around the world, even to Antarctica, just to see one more.
The Eclipse Soundscapes Project uses sound to create a multisensory eclipse experience. The app includes audio descriptions of the eclipse in real time, as well as recordings of environmental sounds that tend to change during an eclipse. Users can also visualize the eclipse through touch, using the app’s interactive “rumble map.” NASA, too, is helping blind people experience the eclipse. The agency has created a Braille book called “Getting a Feel for Eclipses,” which features graphics that help users learn more about the total solar eclipse and the science behind the celestial event. More than 5,000 copies of the book have been distributed to schools and libraries for the blind, as well as other educational institutions. According to a spokesperson, NASA is privileged to help bring this historic eclipse to a segment of our population who have previously not had an opportunity to enjoy these celestial phenomena.
The event this August has been called the Great American Eclipse, and that name seems to chime with the country’s current struggles: between reason and unreason, individuality and crowd consciousness, belonging and difference. On eclipse day when millions of pairs of eyes will focus on a single point, we will all share a vision that will make us one. This New York Times editorial piece written as a firsthand account explains how being a spectator in a large crowd for an eclipse event may not be what you expected if you’re seeking solitary reflection, but you may gain instead an overwhelming sense of humanity, and of what it is made – a host of individual lights shining briefly against the oncoming darkness.
Anticipating the serious need for caution during the eclipse, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released its eclipse guide on Friday, outlining some of the biggest dos and don’ts for this monumental event. This isn’t to say it’s all doom and gloom. Just keep in mind that you’ll better be able to enjoy the eclipse if you know you’re safe and don’t get fuzzy eyes.
This image provided by the United States Postal Service on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 shows a template of a postmark commemorating the Aug. 21, 2017 total solar eclipse over the United States. More than 110 USPS offices in or near the path of the event will offer special commemorative postmarks for the celestial event.
The Great American Solar Eclipse promises to be the celestial event of the century and the Space.com team is super-excited. Folks at Space.com want to know how important the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21 is to you, and how you’re celebrating. They invite you to share your solar eclipse plans, hopes, expectations and results with us at their reader email. Your comments might make it into Space.com’s eclipse coverage.
The English word eclipse comes from the Greek ekleípō meaning disappearance, abandonment. A solar eclipse is the moment in which the sun disappears, abandoning the world. It’s like being forsaken by a god. The ancient Greeks thought of a solar eclipse as an act of abandonment, a terrible crisis and an existential threat. It meant that the king would fall, that terrible misfortunes would rain down on the world, or that demons had swallowed the sun. Yet not everyone thought of the eclipse as a horrible threat. For some cultures, the eclipse was an act of creation: The sun and moon were coupling, and would create more stars. For others, it was a random and chaotic act by a trickster or a mischievous boy, causing trouble just for the sake of it.