Eclipse keeps generating buzz on media
The Great American Eclipse of 2017 is now history, but it is still generating buzz in media circles, on websites, around water coolers, and at about every other real and virtual place that people gather.
By most accounts, this rare celestial show met the expectations of magnificence held by hundreds of thousands of observers across the country. This was evident in Madras at the high school football field; at about 36 seconds after 10:21 a.m. the 3,500 stunned guests attending the Lowell Observatory Solar Eclipse Experience let out a collective cheer as they witnessed the sparkle of a "diamond ring."
The brief appearance of this stellar bling marked the climax of totality. Mixed in with the clapping and yelling were chants of "Let's do it again," harboring memories of Chicago Cubs baseball legend Ernie Banks, who famously uttered, "Let's play two" because, hey, one of something as special as a ballgame (or a total solar eclipse) just isn't enough.
*Note: Well more than 1.6 million other people witnessed the Lowell event from Madras via Science Channel's network of television, website, and social media platforms.
Of course, eclipses aren't nearly as common as baseball games and a quick repetition is usually not in the cards. While total solar eclipses occur on average about once every 18 months, the path from which such events are visible is narrow and varies with each eclipse, so total solar eclipses cross the same geographical area on earth only about once every 375 years.
Arizona, the home state of Lowell Observatory, is in the middle of a 399-year wait; it hasn't witnessed a total solar eclipse since Thomas Jefferson was president back in 1806 and will have to wait until 2205 to see the next. Only two years later, on Nov. 20, 2207, Arizona will then experience another one. This two-year separation is about as close as the sun, moon, and earth come to "playing two," at least in terms of total eclipses of the solar variety.
This past month's total solar eclipse was the first one to hit United States soil in 16 years (a 1991 event crossed over Hawaii), the first to reach the continental United States in 38 years, and the first to cross the continental United States, from the Pacific to Atlantic oceans, in 99 years.
While Arizona's hiatus will continue, the world, as well as the United States at large, won't have nearly as long a wait. The next total solar eclipse is visible from the South Pacific Ocean, Chile, and Argentina and comes on July 2, 2019. The next one to hit the United States is only seven years away. That one happens on Aug. 8, 2024, and, like the 2017 event, will cross over parts of 14 states.
Contrary to this year's path of totality that stretched from Oregon in a southeasterly direction through South Carolina, the 2024 one will enter Texas from Mexico and cross the country in a northeasterly pattern. Lucky states along this trek will include Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.
The next total solar eclipse to cross the United States from the Pacific to Atlantic oceans, like last month's eclipse, happens in only 28 years, on Aug. 12, 2045. Oregon will only see a partial eclipse, as the path of totality runs from northern California through Florida. In 2108, a total solar eclipse will just kiss the western edge of Oregon; the next one to pass over a wide swath of the Beaver State happens in 2169 (still before Arizona sees its next one).
If these delays seem too long, the less dramatic but still enjoyable lunar eclipses will occur much sooner. The next total lunar eclipse over Oregon is less than two years away, on Jan. 21, 2019 (the last one to cross Oregon was on Oct. 8, 2014).
In no time at all, crowds will again gather for these spectacular dances between the sun, moon, and earth, and we will once more hear the chant, "Let's do it again."