TOTAL ECLIPSE– OR A PART
Predictions of animals behaving strangely during the solar eclipse have made it into the news for weeks prior to today’s event. In preparation for the eclipse, I read about spiders deconstructing their webs, chickens heading home to roost, bees returning to their hives, and goats gathering in groups during the diminished sunlight that is brought about by an eclipse. Southern California news sources reported that the best time to view the “Great American Eclipse” was 10:15 AM Pacific Standard time. In an attempt to witness some of the odd animal behavior, I ventured out to the Abundant Table Farm Stand in Camarillo, California during the reported height of the eclipse. Dawning a pair of paper glasses used to filter the light from the sun, I set my eyes to the sky and marveled in wonder and amazement as the moon passed in front of the sun. As the enchantment that comes from witnessing the magic of our solar system passed, I traveled towards the animal enclosure. The goats at the Abundant Table Farm were eager to munch on the weeds and carrots tops that I fed them, and though hungrier than normal, their behavior did not seem unusual in any way. The same holds true for the chicken, pigs, and sheep that I traditionally visit when there.
Since California is out of the line of vision for the total eclipse, it is likely that the animals barely noticed the dimming of sunlight. Though impossible to be sure what was happening internally, I can report that from my viewpoint, the animal’s routine did appear to be disrupted by the partial eclipse. While I am slightly disappointed to have missed the absolute eclipse, I have truly enjoyed the influx of comical photos showing dogs enjoying the eclipse (see below).
The US has experienced several partial eclipses in recent history. However, today’s eclipse marks the first time in nearly a century that a total eclipse has been visible from both ends of our country (the last total eclipse for the North American continent was recorded in 1918). According to Nasa.gov, the path where the moon completely covered the sun stretched from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers like myself, who were located outside of this path, were still treated to a partial obscuration of the sun. Those lucky
enough to be inside the path of the total eclipse experienced two full minutes of daytime darkness. Though the moon orbits the Earth monthly, a precise alignment is necessary for an eclipse to transpire. Nasa.gov reports that an eclipse occurs only when the sun, moon, and Earth meet at the “line of nodes,” the imaginary line that represents the intersection of the orbital planes of the moon and Earth. A total solar
Solar Eclipse. Photo Credit: Alex Havasi
eclipse, where the sun is entirely covered by the moon, occurs when the moon passes directly between the sun and the Earth. During this time, spectators in the line of this phenomenon can see the brighter stars and planets briefly emerge in the sky. Regardless of your position in the world, witnessing an eclipse in any way is a truly momentous event! The next solar eclipse should pass through South America in July of 2019, and in the early spring of 2024. Anyone in the US who missed today’s eclipse will have another opportunity to experience this wonder. Looking directly at the sun is incredibly damaging to the sensitive tissues and complex systems of your eyes. Please take caution when viewing an eclipse and only do so through specialized lenses. NEVER look into the sun.