Friday, May 10, 2024

The Curious Case of Total Solar Eclipses

"If you're outside the path of totality, if there's any way you can get into the path of totality for the eclipse, do it. Take the day off. Take the kids out of school. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most people to see a total eclipse, and it is one of the grandest sights in all of nature. It's something you'll always remember, and you'll pass stories of it onto your grandchildren." - Fred Espenak

A strange phenomenon happens at eclipses.  It's not what happens in the sky but rather, what happens in the community.  Eclipses have a strange way of bringing together reams of random people, from all walks of life, from all over the world and uniting them together - despite their differences.

At the most recent eclipse that occurred on April 8th, 2024 I stumbled across the Los Rios campground in Camp Wood, Texas and found myself amongst the following notable characters among many others:  A retired billionaire from Australia who currently lives on a sailboat in the Bahamas.  A French lady.  A retired engineer and hobbyist deep space photographer.  A guy from Italy.  A high school astronomy teacher.  Families from all across the US.  Motorcyclist from California.  Family from Mexico.  Then there's me.

This is a very eclectic group of people from sea to shining sea whom would never ever find themselves in the same place at the same time, especially not in a very small town in Texas that currently has a population of five hundred and forty-four, except for one phenomenon:  A Total Solar Eclipse.

It's a beautiful thing, instead of letting our vast differences divide us, we all set that aside and let our excitement for the eclipse unite us.  It was the most kumbaya experience I've had in a while.  It was peaceful.  It was enjoyable.  It was fun.  It gave us all hope for humanity.