Eclipse breaks boundaries

Published Aug 26, 2017 at 4:00pm

For a few hours on Monday divisions faded across the country as the sun dimmed, was blotted out in some areas, then returned.

Crowds of people gathered to watch the astronomical spectacle at schools, parks, churches and Fort Stanwix. For once, there were no political affiliations, no races or ethnicities, just Americans looking up at the sky to watch a natural phenomenon that hadn’t been seen across the nation for nearly 100 years.

This is science we all believe in, that we can all see. The time, date and location had been pinpointed for decades, and the eclipse came just as it was supposed to, starting off the coast of Oregon at its appointed time, moving east across the country over the next four hours, ending off the coast of South Carolina.

Communities in the path of the totality saw people pour in to stare at the sky through solar glasses and filtered telescopes or watch as shadows in viewers made from cereal boxes showed a sun that went from a circle to a crescent to nothing.

Those who had acquired the new glasses that made it safe to stare at the sun made sure everyone who wanted a look had a chance to see the sliver of the sun behind the moon.

It was a quintessentially 2017 event, with NASA livestreaming as the shadow crossed the country, fans sharing playlists via Twitter, and photos all over social media of people in their glasses staring upward.

Of course, it was soon over. The sun returned, and with it the normal business of the day. But the bonding experience had happened. For a few hours, we were all children gawking at a sight we rarely see, and we did it without fighting over the glasses or pushing to get to the front of the line.

And let’s make plans to do it again. On April 8, 2024, the shadow of the moon will again block the sun, hitting the United States in Texas before pushing northeast through Maine and New Brunswick, Canada. Save the date.