The Mystery of Solar Totality

The solar eclipse of 2017 has meaning far beyond the moon passing in front of the sun.

By Mark D. Harris

21 August 2017 will be an important day in astronomical history. A total eclipse of the sun will occur, cutting a 70-mile-wide path from Salem, OR to Columbia, SC in the United States.  The physics of this event would humble Einstein, with sun, moon, and earth moving through space in perfect time and position, finer even than Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Mikhail Baryshnikov at their most magnificent. There will be eclipse parties, eclipse merchandise, and millions of eclipse viewers, some acting as citizen scientists for the US National Air and Space Agency (NASA). Schools are closed, and visitors in Oregon are renting tents for the weekend for $1,500 to get a front row seat.

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