Post-eclipse reflections

As I said, I was not that excited about the total solar eclipse that passed over sections of the US yesterday. Maximum totality occurred some distance south of where I live and was reached at 2:30pm Eastern Time. It turned out that I had to take my car in for some recall work and so I was in the waiting room from 1:00pm onwards. The TV set in the room (you cannot escape the pervasive presence of TV in any public area it seems) was tuned to CNN and I was astounded that they talked about nothing but the eclipse for the entire 75 minutes while I was waiting.

After I got my car, I was driving home during the time when totality was occurring. It was a bright, sunny day. Cleveland was to have 80% blocking of the sun but as I was driving along, all that I could detect was a very slight darkening that normally would have passed unnoticed. What surprised me was that the NPR news station that I have on in the car also had nothing but eclipse coverage, with the announcer speaking in a voice that was almost delirious with delight.

I am glad that people were so excited about an event like this that has mostly scientific interest but this intense wall-to-wall coverage over hours seemed, frankly, to be a bit much.

The figure below gives the dates and paths of future eclipses that pass over north America from 2001 to 2050. I learned that the next one will be on April 8, 2024 and Cleveland will be right in its path. Maybe I will go outside and take a look.


  1. anat says

    Experienced totality in Oregon. Also the worst traffic on the way back. If I ever want to do this again I’ll probably need to fly (or move) so I am glad I took the opportunity. Since we were on the road (and have no TV when at home anyway) we didn’t have the news coverage spoiling our mood.

    Being with like-minded people was part of what made it such an elating experience.

  2. starfleetdude says

    On the other hand, as someone who experienced the total eclipse yesterday, I’m wanting more coverage of an event millions of people saw and enthused about, rather than reporting about there being a minor change in U.S. policy with respect to Afghanistan.

  3. Sunday Afternoon says

    Snap! I was in also a car dealership waiting room yesterday after the eclipse for >2 hours (fortunately with decent wifi, so I was able to work while I was there). I recall 2 topics: 1 -- the countdown to the speech last night, and 2 -- the naval collision, repeated again and again and again and again and again and again and again.

    When you were watching, maybe CNN were happy that they could talk about something non-political for a change…?

  4. says

    I’m looking forward to see the next one, if I am still alive.
    I’ll admit I had trouble figuring out what I was seeing. Looks different from the photos you usually see. Saw Venus, but not Mercury, which other people said they could see. Might be because I’ve had cataract surgery.

  5. Holms says

    It’s a nice sight, but not too uncommon. I’ll catch one sooner or later, but there’s no rush.

  6. A momentary lapse... says

    We’ve all seen the photos of the solar corona during a total eclipse, but this only conveys a part of what it is like at totality. I’ve seen a total eclipse previously and a few partial eclipses, and the thing that’s stuck with me about the total eclipse, even over the appearance of the Sun at the time, is the profoundly weird quality of the lighting -- the horizon in all directions was orange as if sunset was occurring everywhere. You don’t get that with an 80% eclipse, and it’s not something that’s usually conveyed in the typical photographs of total eclipses. Certainly it is not “a very slight darkening that normally would have passed unnoticed”, which would be a reasonable comment for a partial eclipse. Dismissing the whole thing based on your experience of a substantial but nevertheless partial eclipse strikes me as somewhat unfair.

  7. grumpyoldfart says

    Channel 7 TV News, Adelaide, South Australia … Recently the newsreaders were talking about a partial eclipse of the Moon (due on August 8th) but the screen graphic showed a total eclipse of the Sun. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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