What Can Unite Our Country in These Dark Times? The Solar Eclipse

Americans excited about the first coast-to-coast eclipse in the U.S. since 1918.

August 17, 2017 5:00 am
Pairs of free solar eclipse glasses sit on display at a Warby Parker store on August 11, 2017 in New York City.
Pairs of free solar eclipse glasses sit on display at a Warby Parker store on August 11, 2017 in New York City. To view the upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21 eye protection is essential. The designer eyeglass store expects to give out thousands of pairs of the glasses before the event. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

On Monday, millions of Americans will be looking to the heavens to forget their problems on Earth — for at least two minutes or so.

An extremely rare total eclipse will captivate much of the nation. Commemorative T-shirts and eclipse glasses have been manufactured and many schools are closed, designating August 21 as an official “snow day.”

The eclipse is set to have a 70-mile-wide band of totality. The centerline of the total solar eclipse starts over U.S. soil at about 10 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, according to The Washington Post, and will “link a fractured country for one day on a path of history, geography, and the racing shadow of the moon.”

This is the first coast-to-coast eclipse in the United States since 1918, The Post reported.

If there is a cosmic capital along the path, it’s probably Makanda, Illinois— which has a totality of more than two minutes and 40 seconds. The town has a population of about 600, but the eclipse has put it on the map. Some locals are worried about an astronomical number of tourists, but other see the instant fame as a way to make money and draw attention to their town.

Arrow Rock, Missouri, is another small city preparing for a crush of visitors. The centerline of the eclipse will go right over Main Street, netting two minutes and 39 seconds of totality. At one point, it was a thriving port of about 1,000 people, overlooking the Missouri River. Now there is a population of about 56 “on a good day.” The whole village is a National Historic Landmark. And people are reportedly coming from all over — including Ireland and Canada — to see the eclipse.

The eclipse’s 2,500 mile journey will cross the Oregon Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, the Appalachian Trail, part of the “Trail of Tears,” and the route of the Pony Express.

“When the Earth reminds us that there are tremendous forces out there beyond our control, it helps us to remember who we are,”Cheri Ward, 56, who has a blueberry farm outside McClellanville, S.C. that will be along the path, told the Post.

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