Grab a bag of French Onion Sun Chips and a six-pack of Blue Moons to wash them down this weekend, because for a few minutes today, the terrorizing orb — which has stoically towered over fallen cultures and civilizations since the dawn of man and will eventually become the death of all of our children — will finally take a break from searing our eyes. It’ll be just as if the fiery manacles that have pulled us into consciousness every morning, forcing us to go to class, will become nothing more than a glazed silhouette of our moon.
This rare cosmic happening known as a solar eclipse, which births from the illusion of a near-perfect overlap of the sun and our moon, occurs even though the sun is 400 times larger than the moon. This is because the moon is also 400 times closer to Earth than the sun. This isn’t a sustainable ratio, however, and human beings also happen to be in a perfect window of time to be able to gawk at this celestial communion. The moon’s gradually moving farther away from the Earth at a rate of about 1 inch per year by the force of our oceans’ tides.
Here in Berkeley, there’ll only be a partial eclipse with its peak occurring at 10:15 am tomorrow, but there’ll be a full eclipse that will travel across the entire contiguous United States starting in Lincoln City, Oregon, and ending at Charleston, South Carolina.
If you have time to follow the path of the eclipse’s journey across the United States, here are some great places for you to visit.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Only 10 miles south of Yellowstone, this national park has all the mountain ranges, canyons, valleys and elk to accompany you on your stare-off with the sun. The park would also be a great environment for conversation with your family while Dad is roasting some kabobs — apparently, some of the Arapaho Tribe that’s settled in this area and other parts of Wyoming believe that the sun and the moon are engaging in intercourse with each other. Because the tribe members interpret the sun and moon as brother and sister, they conclude it to be a cosmic representation of an incestous relationship.
This point is where the peak of the solar eclipse will last the longest, at 2 minutes 41.5 seconds. All across Oregon, the peak of the eclipse will only last between 2 minutes and 2 minutes 10 seconds — that’s a full 30 seconds extra of eclipse gazing! If you can’t swallow that disappointment, try and get to Carbondale as soon as possible.
Sure, it’s only a partial eclipse, but if you’re still getting ready for the new semester and don’t have time to travel across the entire contiguous United States documenting this event, get yourself a pair of CE- and ISO-certified Solar Eclipse shades and step outside your room or car and remember the eclipse begins at 9:01 a.m. tomorrow. Happy Solar Eclipse Day!