Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Today has been an exciting day. I saw my first lunar eclipse! I thought I would get up too late to see the "blood moon" before it sank too low in the sky to be visible above buildings, but on the way to work the bus driver pointed it out to me when it was near the end. I didn't have time to get a picture, but this picture was taken in Minneapolis about 10-15 minutes after I saw it, when it was less total and the moon was lower in the sky; note the fuzzy, concave shadow on the (full) moon and the redness from sunlight scattering through the atmosphere.
Of course, I then started nerding out over eclipses and idly wondered when I could see my first solar eclipse. Considering how all the solar eclipses I heard about were over open ocean or some distant part of Asia or something, I didn't expect this to be any time soon. Imagine my surprise when I learned there will be a total solar eclipse passing over the middle of the United States on August 21, 2017! This is the closest one until 2099, when a total eclipse will pass right over Minneapolis, but I don't plan to live that long. (And if I do, I might be on the Moon by then)
The zone of totality is only a six-hour drive down I35 from Minneapolis and it's on a Monday, so the potential for either driving down that day or camping is ripe. And the nearly three-year warning gives plenty of time to stock up on eclipse glasses, telephoto lenses, or other viewing paraphernalia, as well as to formulate a plan for getting down to Lathrop, MO or thereabouts.

But it gets even better. There will be a partial solar eclipse visible over all of North America in less than three weeks! If there were such a thing as "eclipse season", this would be it.
Fifteen days' warning is still enough time to buy eclipse glasses. The magnitude of the eclipse should peak around 5:30 PM. Be prepared.

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