The Thinker: Rich Galen

  
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Mullings by Rich Galen ®
An American Cyber-Column By Rich Galen
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Totality

Rich Galen

Monday August 21, 2017

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    From Isle of Palms, South Carolina

    8:30 AM

  • I am here in Isle of Palms (just outside of Charleston, SC) with some high school friends to wave goodbye, on behalf of a grateful continent, to the Total Eclipse of the Sun.

  • As Time Magazine reported:
    "The total solar eclipse will begin in Lincoln Beach, Ore. at 10:16 a.m. PDT. It will then move toward the East Coast, and end near Columbia, S.C. at about 2:44 p.m. EDT."

  • The moon covers the sun like this even though the sun is about 400 times the size of the moon. How? Because the sun is 400 times more distant from the Earth than the moon so they appear to be the same size.

  • Weather sites suggest a chance of thunderstorms at just about that same ending time, but this morning the weather is clear and fine.

    9:05 AM

  • We are going out as an advance party on a mission to scout the absolutely best spot to watch this, but my feeling is the grassy knoll right outside the back door of our condo might just fit the bill.

  • My great fear is that Isle of Palms will become like July 4th on Amity in "Jaws:" Clogged with people like me, trying to drive one of about a million cars over a single two-lane road with "YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS" signs at every intersection.
    "How was the eclipse?"

    "Missed it. I was stuck in traffic. I opened the sun roof of my car but I wasn't pointing in the right direction. And, if I wore my approved eclipse glasses, I couldn't see to drive."

    "Bad advance."

  • Think I made that number up?

  • Ok. I did. But then I found this advance traffic report from Weather.com: "South Carolina is expecting up to 1 million visitors for the long weekend."

    11:00 AM

  • The hotel is sponsoring outdoor lectures on the plaza about the eclipse. The deli on the same plaza is doing a land office business in coffee, egg sandwiches and "Dunes Go Dark" tee-shirts at $30 a pop.

  • What was free parking yesterday, is now $10 per car. I'll be they do that for the Fourth of July, too. Just like Amity. And, they have tracked a Great White Shark off the coast of Hilton Head as recently as last month, so

  • The sun is still shining brightly now so, we'll see how this turns out.

  • One of our troupe, Lynne Segal, found a group of semi-pro eclipse watchers just out our back door. They invited us to watch with them. This is a very tempting option. Will report back.

    12:00 Noon

  • I know I have mentioned to you before that I'm a very good traveler, but I'm a terrible tourist. When I get on a plane, or in the car, I like to go where I'm going, do what I'm doing, then get back on/in the plane/car and go to the next place or come home.

  • Museums? I can see it all in HD on my computer. Live events like the Superbowl, or Kentucky Derby? Only if I'm with someone who is a SOMEone and I don't have to be around the actual fans.

  • This has never happened.

  • A solar eclipse is different. I've seen historical footage of them before. I even know that the eclipse of 1919 helped confirm Einstein's Theory of General Relativity.

  • I have read and heard that being in the path of a total eclipse is, to many people, a spiritual experience. A long weekend with some high school friends here seemed to be a worthwhile test of the spirituality of seeing an eclipse. And helping to re-affirm Einstein's theory.

    2:00 PM

  • In the event, we decide to take the advice of the third member of our high school team, Merrill DeWitt, and go to the pool behind the hotel where he has rented a cabana and thus, shade. And beer.

  • As soon as we got there, clouds rolled in and we began to doubt the wisdom of the whole adventure. At one point I Tweeted a photo of the sun obscured by clouds with the legend: "Maybe I should have bought that Total Eclipse Insurance after all."

  • We don our approved safety glasses (ISO 12312-2) and look in vain for a hint of the sun, much less a clear view of the eclipse.

  • The weather continues to close in and the excitement in our group - as well as the 50-or-so people around us - sags along with the deepening gray sky.

    2:46 PM

  • Just as we think we're going to miss the once-in-a-lifetime event, the clouds lift - not to a clear sky, but enough to clearly see the moon moving into its promised position. Maybe 30 seconds later - BAM!

  • Totality.

  • We are at a pool, so cows didn't lay down to sleep and bats didn't come out to hunt. It didn't get as dark as promised because the remaining clouds dissipated the light from the corona. But it was an amazing moment. Everyone clapped and cheered.

  • I don't know that it changed my life, but I would be surprised if anyone who has ever seen a total eclipse in real life has walked away dissatisfied with the show.

  • Not only did we get a great view of the eclipse, but the promised thunderstorm arrived to our south and we could see flashes of lightning and hear the thunderclaps at the same time.

  • As the moon moved toward the left and the bright diamond of light burst from behind it at about 5 o'clock, someone cranked up his iPhone and started playing songs about the sun. "Here Comes the Sun," and "House of the Rising Sun," "Sunshine on my Shoulder." You get the idea.

    4:05 PM

  • It's over. The moon has cleared the solar disc after appearing to hang on for dear life with the last sliver of darkness at about the 10 o'clock position for about five minutes.

  • It was as if the moon didn't want it to end, either.

  • The guys who had set up all the equipment said that they never did get a good view of the eclipse, so the mile-or-so difference in location was crucial.

  • Two minutes and about 40 seconds of totality was all there was.

  • But it was way more than enough.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to Einstein's theory - but if you can understand the material on the link, you already know it. If you don't, you don't.

    A series of three Mullfotos from throughout the day.

-- END --

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