Sunday, August 27, 2017

I Think I'm a Junkie - of Eclipses

For months Americans prepared for and awaited one of our country's most wondrous spectacles in years, the Great American Eclipse.  I, on the other hand, caught the eclipse fever in the nick of time, or so I thought.  I ordered through a set of solar glasses for me and my family.  I noticed that larger batches of glasses were already sold out, and I ended up with glasses in neon colors costing a little more than $50.  Amazon said my order would arrive a few days before the solar eclipse.  Days later, I received an e-mail notifying me that the glasses may not get to me on time. Of course, I panicked and went back online to order another set of glasses and by this time, I'm seeing the words Sold Out printed across the pages.  I finally found another set of 10 glasses and paid $160.00 for it.  Talk about price gouging!  As luck would have it, my original order did come in on time, and Amazon refunded me my $160.00.  I love Amazon!
When the package arrived at my door, I tried out the CE-certified glasses with the proper ISO number, and wow, the sun was a full glorious orange ball.  I couldn't wait to deliver the rest of the glasses to my family and friends.
I decided to spend eclipse day at the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.  With the festivities scheduled to begin at 9am, I thought it best to get there by 7:30am.  The parking lots were wide open, and the local news crews were already camped out at the center.  There was lots of cloud cover, but that sun was working hard to make an appearance.  By 8 am, the sun appeared and the air warmed up quite a bit.  
To get a ticket into the Dome Theater, I had to get in line for the Admissions Desk which snaked down the side of the building and spilled into the parking lot in the back.  With ticket in hand, I got in line to enter the Dome Theater but it was already filled to capacity by the time I got in that line. People were allowed to go in and out of the dome.  As one person leaves, another gets to enter.  
I went back outside, and the plaza around the fountain was filled with people, news media, Fleet Center employees and astronomy club members.  Families with kids, students of all ages, people of all ages, colors, and cultures were together in this giant circular space learning different ways to experience the eclipse without using the solar glasses.  It was so cool to see people talking to each other, helping each other, laughing, sharing a table in the outdoor cafe.  I sat with an elderly couple, each of us enjoying coffee and a pastry.  I shared my glasses with them, and when their young granddaughter returned to the table, I let her enjoy the glasses.  I asked her to see if she could take a photo of the eclipse through the glasses.  This is what she took.  Not bad!

I remained outside for a while.  When my tablemates left, a French woman sat down and asked if she could borrow my glasses.  She said she was so excited to be there to experience her second solar eclipse.  Her last one was nine years ago.  When the sun became too much for me, I made my way to the Dome Theater and waited for my turn to enter.
Many people watched live coverage of the solar eclipse on their cell phones.  This woman invited me to watch with her.  Amazing stuff!

 Here are my fuzzy photos taken of the live broadcast inside the dome.

Wow, wow, wow!  All of this scientific stuff is so interesting.  It was interesting to hear the astronomers outside at the plaza explaining this spectacular phenomenon to new eclipse junkies, which I know I am becoming one, too.  I'm already thinking of 2019, and where do I want to see the next solar eclipse.
Now is the time to book your solar eclipse tour for 2019.  The event will occur on July 2.  If you need help with planning, I and Discovery Tours would love to hook you up with a great itinerary, or create a custom tour for you.  Just my little sales pitch (smile).  

My daughter and her family live in Pegram, Tennessee, and they went under almost total darkness for a few minutes. I'm so happy for them, because I wish we had that experience here in San Diego.
The United States Postal Service issued the Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamp on June 20, 2017.  The stamp shows a total solar eclipse.  It's to commemorate our August 21, 2017 solar eclipse which was visible all across the continental United States from coast to coast.
It's the first time the postal service used thermochromic ink in their stamps.  The Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamps reveal a second image.  By rubbing the eclipse image, the heat from your finger will cause an underlying image of the full moon to be revealed.  Afterward, the image reverts back to the eclipse as it cools.
 I hope you had a wonderful Great American Eclipse Day, too!

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