Editor's Corner

By Metz, Steve | The Science Teacher, March 2017 | Go to article overview

Editor's Corner


Metz, Steve, The Science Teacher


Standing in the Moon's Shadow

This issue celebrates what is being called the "Great American Eclipse." On August 21, millions of people across the continental United States will be able to experience one of the most rare and wondrous of nature's celestial events: a total eclipse of the Sun. Arriving in Oregon and departing the U.S. from South Carolina less than two hours later, this will be the first eclipse to travel coast-to-coast across the U.S. in nearly a hundred years. Even outside the path of totality the Moon will cover at least 60% of the Sun in all 48 contiguous states.

We won't have to wait a century for the next eclipse viewable by such a large number of Americans, but solar eclipses are rare events nonetheless. The next major solar eclipse in the U.S. occurs in April 2024, when a total eclipse will be seen from Texas to Maine. We then must wait until 2045 for one that will pass across the U.S. from California to Florida.

My only experience witnessing a total solar eclipse came on March 7, 1970. Almost a half-century later, this event still stands in my mind as awe-inspiring. Day turned into night, birds stopped singing, stars appeared in the sky, and the Sun's stunning corona appeared. The colors and odd light were spectacular. Standing in the Moon's shadow was a beautiful, hypnotic, eerie experience that remains an indelible memory to this day.

I hesitated to devote this issue to the August eclipse, phases of the Moon, and related phenomena. …

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