As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, news outlets are providing media coverage, and the way the eclipse is being covered, well, this is just about tantamount to the moon covering the sun – not a beat missed. It seems as if there isn’t a person on this entire earth who is willing to just let this rare occasion slip past without their noticing, that is, the way the media is portraying related activities.
For instance, just yesterday I saw on the broadcast T.V. news where, what, 100,000 eclipse “fanciers” (pronounced: “fan seers”) have descended upon the town of Madras, a city in the state of Oregon. From what I remember hearing, this is three times the population that regularly occupies or inhabits the city. Can you imagine?
I also remember seeing a scene which showed traffic jam packed, bumper-to-bumper on some highway somewhere, presumably, all of whom are headed off to get to that ideal spot just so they can don the proper protective eyewear so the people wearing such won’t harm their eyes when they gaze skyward in their efforts to look at the sun.
Stopped motor vehicles on what was a highway transformed into a parking lot, at least, that’s the image I have imprinted in my mind, anyway. “Parkway” is the word that immediately comes to mind.
All I can think of is the wasted time, wasted fuel, wasted energy and possible damage to the air done when I see scenes of this kind. And, this was only one of who knows how many repeat performances exemplifying the same sort of activity. Ahem, make that inactivity.
What’s more, those media outlets covering the solar-eclipse-to-be, at least some of them also talked about where the best places are for watching the event unfold. If I recall correctly, the Rocky Mountain region along the eclipse’s path – which will move at a speed of about 1,400 miles per hour if I have my information correct – won’t be the best area for viewing due to predicted storm-related weather. As well I heard where NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration – is flying two aircraft to track and record the eclipse as it travels west to east. The reason for the two aircraft is because of the speed limitations of each of the planes.
As for me, and anyone living in an area where the skies will be somewhat impacted by polluted air, if trying to get a look-see, that is, of course wearing the proper eye protection (I can’t emphasize this point enough) I hope people in such affected areas like mine, won’t be too terribly let down. As of late, where I live, the air here has been horrendous. Looking on the (pardon the pun) bright side, at least the air in this region today is getting some relief, compared to what it was yesterday. Today’s Air Quality Index is forecasted to be 80, which is in the moderate range. Yesterday, the AQI was an unhealthy (Unhealthy for Sensitive Individuals) 122 – from 77 parts per billion of ozone to 64 ppb. Unhealthy for Sensitive Individuals is still unhealthy in my book. Not a great improvement, but I’ll take any improvement we can get.
Just so you know, I’m okay forgoing the following of the solar eclipse and all other attractions today, if any, that Mother Nature from time to time has a tendency to display. Nor am I going to lose any sleep over my missing out on what could otherwise be described as a solar-lunar light show, that’s for sure. This, for me, will just have to be the one that got away.
If it’s any consolation, I’m sure I’ll read (and see) all about it on the news.
Again, if out in pursuit of, first and foremost, take the necessary and proper precautions to protect your eyes in so doing – please.
Image above: Eclipse predictions courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
– Alan Kandel