Even a Cloud Covered Eclipse Can Be An Amazing Experience

Right now it is cloudy outside. It is not exactly the weather that we wanted. Hopefully the clouds will dissipate later in the morning and we will be able to see the sun. If we have a little cloud cover, we may still be able to see the 360 degree sunset during the eclipse. However even if we have total cloud cover during the eclipse, be sure to get outside anyway and experience the effects of the eclipse. Many people have experienced an eclipse on a cloudy day, and they all say they would rather be in the shadow of totality when it is cloudy than to be outside of the shadow on a clear day. Even under cloud cover, you will be able to see the shadow rushing toward you. Then it will suddenly get very dark. The temperature will drop, and finally you will see the shadow rushing away from you. As I write this, the sun is trying to peek out. No matter what happens it will be an awesome experience, so get outside!

Kids Are Smart

I realize that parents and teachers are concerned about young children looking at the sun tomorrow.  This is an important concern and every precaution should be taken. However, I think the kids will do just fine. Even young children can understand the dangers of looking directly at the sun with no protection. Today in Sunday school, we had a pair of eclipse glasses sitting on the table. The kids remarked that these glasses looked different from the glasses that they were going to use in school. One little kindergartener asked me, “are you sure those are safe to use? Do they have the correct number on them?” I had to laugh. It seems the parents and teachers are doing an excellent job of educating their children about the eclipse.

Are Eclipses Best Viewed on a Lonely Hilltop or With An Energetic Crowd?

Are you ready for a mass crowd of people to descend upon Nebraska? For anyone who lives less than 4-5 hours from the path of the eclipse, they would be foolish not to come, see, and experience such a rare event. If I lived north of Sargent and within driving distance of the eclipse, my thought would be to drive to where the eclipse will take place, find some lonely country road and pull to the side and watch everything take place. I wonder how many other people have this idea. Perhaps our lonely country roads won’t be so lonely for a few hours – time will tell. However, is a lonely road or hilltop really the best place to view the eclipse?

Great occurrences such as this are even better when shared with other people. This is a video of the total eclipse in 2010 on Easter Island. Just listen to the excitement and energy coming from the crowd. Listen to the cheering when the eclipse finally occurs.

Yes, events like this are best when shared with other people. In Sargent we have an eclipse event planned on the school football field starting at 11:30 a.m., with totality occurring around 12:56 p.m.  Free eclipse glasses will be available. The Sargent Economic Development will be serving a lunch (on a donation basis).  The library will have a bake sale, and it has been rumored that Janie’s Kolaches and Ricky’s peach muffins will be available.

A special guest and speaker will be AJ Gemer.  AJ has degrees in Aerospace and Mechanical engineering, and he is a researcher at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, Colorado studying cosmic dust. He will be a great source of information for all questions that are space related.

So far the weather forecast looks good for Monday. We may have a few clouds, but hopefully they will move aside when the eclipse happens. We hope to see you at the football field.

Why Using a Welding Helmet to View the Eclipse May Be a Bad Idea

I have heard countless numbers of farmers tell me that they are going to view the eclipse with their welding helmet. According to NASA, make sure that you are using a shade 12 or higher welder’s glass; any shade less is not safe to look directly at the sun.

Gene Willers of Neligh, NE recently gave this testimony of how his eye was damaged by an eclipse when he was 13 years old in 1963.

“There was a lot of news about the eclipse…They gave advice to not look at it and those type things.” After all looking at the sun during an eclipse can cause retinal burn or permanent eye damage.

“Being a farm kid and a 13-year old who knows a lot, so I thought ‘It can’t hurt to look at it through a welder’s shield or helmet .’ Just to be on the safe side, I looked through one eye – it was my right eye. I didn’t really look for a long time because it was blinding, even with the welder’s glasses…but apparently it didn’t take a long time.”

Little did he know the damage that had been done to his right eye.

“The next day when I woke up my eye was matted shut and swollen. I went to an optometrist and of course it was like a sunburn on my eye, plus there were indicators that retinal damage may have occurred. Not too soon after that I had to wear glasses to correct some things.”

Please protect your eyes and use proper eclipse viewing glasses. You don’t want to turn your eyes into these.


Find Out When the Eclipse Will Begin From Your Exact Location

Here is an interactive website that shows the exact time of the eclipse for your area. I clicked on the football field at the Sargent School and came up with the following times. The times listed are in Universal Time. To convert to Central Time, subtract 5 hours.

So . . . the partial eclipse will officially start at 11:32:40.2.  The total eclipse will be from 12:56:56.7 till 12:57:52.5, and the partial eclipse will end at 14:23:47.0. Set your alarm and plan to meet us for a party at the Sargent football field on August 21. Lunch will be served at noon with a freewill donation. The library will provide free eclipse glasses at the event.  All you need to bring is a lawn chair.

If you will be out of town for the eclipse, you can still get free eclipse glasses at the Sargent Library.


Viewers on the Edge of the Shadow may see Strange Phenomena

Sargent is not located on the center of the total eclipse path. Totality will only last for a little under one minute in our town. However, that doesn’t mean that Sargent isn’t in a prime viewing area. At Space.com, Joe Rao makes the case that sometimes people prefer to be closer to the edge of the eclipse path. This is because certain strange eclipse phenomena will last 10 times longer when you are only a few miles from the edge. One of these phenomenons is called shadow bands.

As the moon almost covers the sun, it causes small strips of light to be projected through the earth’s atmosphere and dance on the ground. These are called shadow bands, and it may almost look like little snakes moving around.  A good way to be able to see these shadow bands more clearly is to spread a white sheet on the ground. As I said before, we should be able to see these shadow bands a lot longer than those in the center of the shadow.

You can read the rest of the article here.  An ‘Edgy’ Suggestion on Where to Watch the Total Solar Eclipse


The Full Eclipse Will Be An Emotional High

I’ve heard many people express that they think this eclipse talk is making a big deal about nothing. Well, if we have cloudy weather that day, this statement may be true. It will also come true if one decides to sit inside during the eclipse and watch it on TV or internet. However if the day is clear and you go outside and actually experience the full eclipse for yourself, I guarantee that you will have an emotional experience to remember.

In the book Mask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses by John Dvorak, the author tells of the reaction that James Fenimore Cooper had during a full eclipse of the sun in 1806.

Three minutes of darkness elapsed. “A breathless intensity of interest was felt by all.” It was “a majestic spectacle” and “one of humiliation and awe.” Then the stars retired and light returned. He likened “this sudden, joyous return of light, after the eclipse, to nothing of the kind that is familiarly known.” It was not like the dawning of day or the end of a sudden storm. It was what one would “expect of the advent of a heavenly vision.” He looked at his family and neighbors. He saw women standing with streaming eyes and clasped hands. The most educated men he knew stood silent in thought. Several minutes passed before anyone spoke, then it was in whispers. Cooper ended his account by stating, “Never have I beheld any spectacle which so plainly . . . taught the lesson of humility as a total eclipse of the sun.”

Yes the upcoming eclipse will be an event you won’t want to miss, so be prepared and plan your work schedule so that you can be outside when the shadow passes over your area. Here in Sargent we are planning to have a viewing on the school football field starting at 11:30 a.m. We hope to see you there.

Sargent Has Been Through a 1,160 Year Eclipse Drought

I read an interesting quote recently from the book Mask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses by John Dvorak.

“Within the United States, an eclipse drought is about to end for the small community of North Platte, Nebraska. The most recent total solar eclipse visible from that location was on July 29, 957 C.E. The next will be on August 21, 2017, an eclipse drought of 1,160 years.”

Now I am assuming that this fact also applies to Sargent, Nebraska. The average frequency for a total eclipse of the sun for any given point on the Earth’s surface is once in 375 years. After August 21, the eclipse drought will be over! So join the community on the school’s football field on August 21, starting at 11:30 a.m., and let’s celebrate. Thanks to a grant from the STAR Library Network – STEM Learning in Libraries, our library is able to provide free eclipse glasses for everyone before and during the event.

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