While You Can - The Total Eclipse of 2024

While You Can - The Total Eclipse of 2024

While You Can

A total eclipse of the sun will happen soon.  While such eclipses are actually common, one would have to travel the globe to witness most of them.  It’s uncommon to have one visible in your own “backyard.”   Yet, Ohioans will have the opportunity to view a total eclipse on April 8, 2024.  In the Hocking Hills, we will experience 95% totality.  A short drive north to Central Ohio is all that’s needed to reach the zone of totality.   

The last total eclipse in Ohio was in 1806.  Since Ohio won’t fall under the shadow of a total eclipse again until 2099, for most of us, it’s once in a lifetime and it’s now or never.

As I make more and more trips around the sun, I find that “now or never” is a recurring theme.  The world is changing.  I am changing.  I must seize the day before the sun sets on my days forever. 

We humans live in a unique time from an astronomical standpoint.  By pure chance, the apparent size of the moon in the sky is the same as the apparent size of the sun.  But the moon is moving away from the Earth at a rate of about 1.5 inches per year.  In about 600 million years, there will be no more total eclipses.  I feel lucky to be alive when I can witness the spectacle.   

Likewise, I’m lucky to gaze at the constellation of Orion with Betelgeuse at the shoulder of the mighty archer.  If I’m truly fortunate, I might witness that same red-giant star go supernova.  It’s incredible, and a bit unnerving, to know that one day our night sky will no longer have Betelgeuse as a visible member.   Future generations might wonder how we ever saw an archer when the new pattern looks nothing like a human figure. 

Yet, it’s not a receding moon 600 million years distant, or a supernova in the next 100,000 years that makes me take time to look at the sky.  More and more light pollution means that fewer and fewer stars are visible.  My aging retinas and damaged to my optic nerve mean I shouldn’t assume I’ll have tomorrow to revel in the grandeur of the heavens above. 

Like so much in life, it’s now or never.

I will seize the day.  I will watch our moon seize the daylight.  Like I’ve done so often, I will wonder how many other beings in the cosmos live on a planet with a moon that eclipses their sun.  I wonder if any are watching it happen at the same time.  I’ll think about how our star will go nova somewhat like Betelgeuse will.  I’ll wonder if some alien might witness it from their backyard.

I’ll be reminded of how lucky I am to be alive on this this planet, with this moon, revolving around this star at this time in history.  It’s now and never all at once.

I have my eclipse glasses ready.

Viewing an eclipse requires proper protective eyewear.  Visit https://www.armstrongmuseum.org/ to order a pair of glasses. 

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