Well, that was fun!

We sincerely hope everyone had a chance to enjoy yesterday’s eclipse.  While the event itself was rare enough in and of itself, it was also pretty remarkable to have an event that unambiguously brought everyone in this country together…and gave them a reason to look up and to marvel.  I was lucky enough to spend the height of the eclipse in a parking lot with a group of strangers who were all sharing their eclipse glasses, talking about the fact that the world was a weird kind of hazy orange-ish color, and, best of all, that we were grateful for each other’s presence at that moment in time.

If you weren’t able to watch the eclipse, then allow me to share with you some of the sensational images that NASA captured of the event:

Here’s the shadow of the Moon as seen from space:

From https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/the-eclipse-2017-umbra-viewed-from-space-2

This composite image shows the progression of a partial solar eclipse over Ross Lake, in Northern Cascades National Park, Washington on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017:

A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

And here’s the show itself:

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-prepares-for-aug-21-total-solar-eclipse-with-live-coverage-safety-information

And, if you, like me, took some very well-intentioned, but generally unimpressive photos of the eclipse, then you can commiserate with these photos that The Guardian collected of people’s “Underwhelming Photos of the Eclipse”.

From The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gallery/2017/aug/21/bad-solar-eclipse-photos-gallery

On the day that we were reminded how small we are in the cosmos, and how great are the forces balanced around us, it’s kind of nice to know that even if our attempts didn’t amount to much, that we all collectively strove to capture some wonder and some beauty together yesterday.

So thanks to the Sun for a great show, for bringing us together, and for reminding us of our place in the Grand Scheme of Things.  And if you’re interested, we’ll be back in this position again in 2024!  But just so you know, eclipse glasses have a short shelf life, so don’t save them for next time!  If you’re looking to get rid of those eclipse glasses, here’s what to do:

  1. Take the protective lenses (the black filmy stuff) off, then put them in the recycling bin
  2. Keep an eye on the Astronomers Without Borders website–they are looking to redistribute those glasses, and yours could do some real good!  We’ll let you know when their plan is announced.

And in the meantime, in case you aren’t ready to put your eclipse-o-mania away just yet, here is a selection of books that you can check out to keep you going (maybe not until 2024, but we’ll certainly keep trying!):

Every Soul a Star: This story, about three people among thousands who gather at Moon Shadow, an isolated campground in right in the path of totality to witness a solar eclipse.  Each of these three young people, Ally, Bree, and Jack, are dealing with their own burdens, from the experience of being overweight to social awkwardness, from the insecurity that comes with popularity to the fear of growing up and moving on–but during the eclipse, they will begin to forge friendships that will slowly change their lives.  Wendy Mass does a brilliant job shifting narrative voices in this book, alternating between Ally’s, Bree’s, and Jack’s experiences to form a powerful story about the strength human bonds, even in the face of massive, cosmic changes.  Like I said, my favorite part of the eclipse was hanging out with strangers who suddenly became friends, and this book revels in that feeling from the very first chapter.

Shooting the Sun: Anyone who tried to take a picture of the sun, balancing your eclipse glasses precariously over the lens, only to get a weird, grainy blur of red and black, will be glad to hear that people have been trying to capture eclipses on film for centuries.  Max Byrd takes this premise to create a fascinating, twisty, historically detailed story of cosmic wonders and human treachery. Charles Babbage, a British genius (and famous eccentric) has sponsored an expedition into the American wilderness in order to photograph an eclipse that Babbage’s Difference Engine has predicted.  On the expedition are four men and one remarkable woman, Mary Somerville, who is determined to prove Babbage’s predictions true.  But no computer can predict the vagaries of the human heart, or the darkness of the human mind, and Mary will soon find that the eclipse poses a much smaller risk to her than the other people in this expedition…This is a terrific blend of history, science, and intrigue, that is sure to appeal to history buffs…as well as any of you intrepid eclipse-chasers who books tickets to the path of totality to witness the full eclipse for yourself!

Eyes to See: Ok, so this book isn’t about eclipses, I admit it–it’s a supernatural, urban thriller.  But in this series’ debut, our hero, Jeremiah Hunt, sacrifices his normal sight, not quite by staring at an eclipse, but in order to see the world of ghosts and dark powers in order to find malevolent power that stole his daughter, and a series about a man who describes his world through his other sense, whose sense of loss (both of his family and his eyesight) is unforgettable.  Nassise does a brilliant job with the noir tone in this book, but by sending the hero on a quest for his daughter (rather than some sort of femme fatale), he gives this whole quest a totally different, urgent, and believable feel.  This is a book about the nightmares that lurk just beyond what the rest of us are able to see–but it’s also about someone who has looked at what he was forbidden to…so if you spent way too much time yesterday trying not to look up at the eclipse, or telling other people not to look up at the eclipse, this title might be for you.