The solar eclipse: “spectacularly beautiful and rare”

eclipse.jpgThe partial phases is a composite of images by David Young, shot on a cruise ship in the Makassar Strait of Indonesia March 8, 2016.

 

The solar eclipse: “spectacularly beautiful and rare”

by Paul Edelman

If you’re not all that excited about Aug. 21 when parts of Kansas City will experience a total eclipse of the sun, Elizabeth Brown understands why.  She knows it’s because words fail to convey the experience of what is called a life-changing, surreal and wondrous event. But still, she tries: “It’s an opportunity to see something that’s spectacularly beautiful and rare. It has an emotional effect that’s hard to describe.”

Brown, a member of the Astronomical Society of Kansas City, has been from Aruba to Greece for astronomical observation, and now she’s looking forward to viewing this celestial phenomenon in Kansas City’s backyard. She says the best way to see the eclipse in its entirety is to drive northeast toward the St. Joseph area. If you stay in South Kansas City, however, you’ll experience 99 percent coverage.

MartinCityEclipseMap (1).jpg
This website will shot the precise time the eclipse will occur over your neighborhood. www.eclipse2017.org/

The sky will begin darkening and the temperature will begin to drop at 11:45 a.m., continuing for three hours, she says. Peak darkness will be about 1:07 p.m. Because South Kansas City will not have total coverage, residents should wear special solar glasses during the entire event to protect their eyes before staring into the sun. The American Astronomical Society has a list of vendors that sell proper eclipse glasses—beware of faulty manufacturers.

Brown explains that a total solar eclipse is a grand optical illusion that happens when the orbiting moon comes between the Earth and sun in a perfect alignment. “From our vantage point, people will see the moon going across the face of the sun,” she says. The “totality” of an eclipse is the moment of deepest visual intensity when the moon completely hides the sun, producing a beautiful and exceptional image where only the sun’s corona remains visible, splaying behind the moon as a wreath of light.

Contrary to what a popular 1970s song (“You’re So Vain”) says, one doesn’t need to take a Lear jet to Nova Scotia to see a total eclipse of the sun.  Right here in South Kansas City citizens are in an excellent position by being near the strip of the Unites States where a total solar eclipse occurs. Brown and others who have witnessed such an event have one final piece of advice: Don’t miss it!

 

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