Our View: Solar eclipse is a sight to behold

August 11, 2017 12:04:03 PM



We've never seen anything quite like it. 


No, we are not referring to the solar eclipse that will travel a course across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina on Aug. 21. Scientists tell us total solar eclipses occur every 18 months. 


Yet while the solar eclipse itself may not be rare, the interest it has already created is unprecedented, thanks to the internet and social media. 


Still 10 days away from the event, what is being referred to as "The Great American Eclipse" has generated 275 million Google searches and made the eclipse a major tourism event. 


An estimated 7.4 million people will travel to areas along the path of the eclipse will be in "totality,'' joining the estimated 12.25 million people who live along its roughly 2,600-mile length and 70-mile wide path. Hotels are filling up from coast to coast. 


Thanks to social media, it will be the most viewed eclipse in history and the first to travel from coast-to-coast in the United States in 99 years. 


Here in the Golden Triangle, we'll see about 90 percent of the eclipse. At the time of full eclipse, (about 1:30 p.m.) the sun will look like an orange sliver of a crescent against a dark blue sky. 


Since the advent of man, people have looked at the sky -- the sun, the moon, the stars -- with curiosity and wonder. The earliest recorded solar eclipse, discovered in 1948 in Syria on a clay tablet, dates to March 5, 1223 B.C. Down through the centuries, eclipses have inspired poets and writers, scientists and every-day people. For centuries little was known about eclipses apart from what could be observed by the naked eye. 


While much of the mystery has been revealed to us, astronomers and scientists are still learning from these events. 


We are especially excited that the arrival of the eclipse appears to have fired the imagination of our schoolchildren. 


Many a scientist can trace their love of science not from the classroom, but from a childhood observation of the wonders of the natural world. This eclipse may inspire a new generation of scientists, as well. 


For the rest of us, it will be a reminder of the vastness of the universe and our relatively infinitesimal place in it. Some may find it something of a spiritual event. Others may be moved to philosophical contemplation: What is man and what is mankind's significance in a universe of such immeasurable dimensions? 


Of course a lot of us may simply consider it a captivating display of nature's wonder. 


However we consider it, this will be one of those mystical moments when the natural world commands our attention. 


The eclipse will fly across the continent at 1,500 mph, making the journey from Oregon to South Carolina in just 94 minutes. 


It will be an awe-inspiring and beautiful thing to behold. 


Yeah, that's a pretty big deal.