The Daily Dose – August 22, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

CAPSULE ECLIPSE REVIEW: Total Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017, Intersection of Wyoming State Highway 220 and Natrona County Road 321, Natrona County, Wyoming: We’re not the most exciting people on the planet here at The Daily Dose, but we had never seen a total eclipse before and with one there for the taking a mere three or so hours away, we decided to go.

Our chosen spot is not too far from the middle of nowhere, which is good because there weren’t a whole lot of people there. On the drive up there probably more cars on the road than there would be tomorrow, but not too many people were heading to the middle of nowhere. We got to the designated intersection at 11am, 42 minutes before totality began, after a drive of a bit more than three hours.

Parked nearby was an older gentleman who turned out to be named Larry. Larry had eclipse glasses. I  didn’t. A friendly sort, he came up and said hi and I offered to exchange a view of the eclipse with his glasses for a view of its progress with my lousy, homemade pinhole camera.

Thank You Carl Sagan: I remembered our pinhole camera from the 1979 partial eclipse in grade school and they are so easy to make even we can do it: You take a piece of cardboard, cut a hole in the center, put some tin foil over it and poke a small hole in the center. When the time comes, you hold the cardboard up to the sun so the shadow shows up on the piece of white cardstock you brought with you. It actually shows up rather well. Not as good as looking through eclipse glasses, but still a satisfactory way to follow the moon’s progress.

Larry was very generous with his glass and good company for the 45 minutes or so we spent together, one of those supremely rare and good moments when you share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with someone you will see once in your life. Larry had driven about five hours to the middle of nowhere and this was his first total eclipse, too.

Dry, Technical Matter: A few minutes before totality you could notice it getting darker and cooler which caused Larry to put on a sweater against the arctic cold that was about to blow in. We then shared his glasses for one last look before totality.

Larry: Two minutes…Long time coming.
Me: Yeah…Worth the wait, though…

It got noticeably darker one final time – Larry would note is seemed like 7pm – and there it was, a moment you hoped might happen with no guarantee it ever would: a total eclipse. The atmospheric conditions weren’t conducive to spectacular corona but no matter. The black disc surrounded by a white ring was satisfactory.

We had one minute and 18 seconds of totality, 78 seconds in a lifetime with billions of them. Larry muttered some words of wonderment under his breath, but other than that we kept quiet, content with how we were taking in a sight we might never see again.

And then it was done. A white ball was the first sign Mr Moon was continuing its journey and after that we stood there dumbly for a few seconds as light returned and the temperature warmed up, though Larry kept his sweater on. There wasn’t much reason to stick around after that, so Larry and I  shook hands and parted, two explorers whose paths briefly crossed before diverging. 

Some Philosophy Crap: Watching a total eclipse is a great way to make you feel insignificant. What struck us was the fact the moon has been getting in the way of the sun like this for billions of years and will probably do so for billions more. This eclipse looked just like the ones before us humans were around to see them and bore a striking the resemblance to the ones that will happen long after we’re gone. Ponder that and then go home and admire the blue ribbon your artichokes won you at last week’s county fair and try to feel important. 

Final Ranking: We’re giving this an A, our highest rating, both circumstantially because we were there and intrinsically, because of the show Mother Nature put on for us. A day worth waiting for. 

Editor’s Note: the On This Date feature will return.

Quotebook: That is always best which gives me to myself. – Emerson, address at Harvard Divinity School, 7/15/1838

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: The Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1913, established the popular election of US Senators.

Today’s Stumper: The Trivia feature will return!

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