Eclipse Trip: Flying West 

I recently discovered the word umbraphile while sponging up everything on the World Wide Web about solar eclipses.  It isn’t in any official dictionary…yet.  I don’t know for certain if I will become one of these or not but I strongly suspect that after August 21,2017 at 10:21am PDT that umbraphile will be a new label I carry.   I will let you read on to discover the implied meaning of this undefined word :). 

Per the USA Today I picked up at George Bush Intercontinental airport this morning it appears that clear skies will prevail in Madras, Oregon allowing Mr. Caldwell, myself and the other 100,000 Oregon Solarfest visitors the opportunity to experience a total eclipse of the sun!  You should grab this weekend edition of USA Today. It would be great for an eclipse scrapbook or time capsule.  The full page infographic is awesome. 

Just reading about totality has me borderline umbraphile! I can’t imagine what it will actually be like to be in the moon’s narrow umbra shadow and witness day turn into night for two peculiar minutes.  I”ve heard even seasoned NASA heliophysicists quoted as saying “words cannot describe” the feelings that come over them when they experience totality.   This of course has me a bit anxious as I am a total solar eclipse newbie and it is my hope to share all of this eclipse excitement with you … through a word filled Blog!  

I am currently on a United flight, exit row aisle across from Mr. Caldwell. The two nice people to my right are from Houston and are also traveling west to “totality” experience The Great American Eclipse.  They have the same Bill Nye Solar viewing glasses that I have!!  

Lucky them, they are staying with family that live on a 50+ acre farm in the Oregon Williamette Valkey.  That sounds like it will be a much more intimate encounter with totality than what Mr. Caldwell and I are expecting at Oregon Solarfest.  We are imagining something more along the lines of a music festival gone science.   The concert line up doesn’t look as stellar as the line up of the celestial spheres. Wink. Wink.    

Solarfest Link
So after too much coffee I am thinking about this plane flying at 503 mph to Portland, OR.  Sounds fast.  Right?  Not so fast.  The moon’s umbra shadow will make landfall on the coast of Oregon on Monday at 9:04am PDT and race eastward at roughly 2,000 mph (land speed slows a bit as the shadow moves east due to the Earth’s geometry.)  The moon’s shadow will cross our nation rushing off the South Carolina coast in just 90 minutes.  In Madras we will have a wee 2 minutes and 2 seconds to stand in awe of the Sun’s corona and experience totality.  No blinking!

It’s taking this plane four hours to travel half the distance the moon’s shadow will travel in an hour and a half.   Lest you think that at 2,000ish mph the moon is equivalent to some sort of cosmic sports car, take note of spaceship Earth’s speed.  We ride planet Earth orbiting around the sun once every year (365.25 days) at 67,000mph!!

Well that is all this teacher blogger has for now.  I think I might join Mr. Caldwell in a pre-eclipse nap. 

Clear skies!


2 thoughts on “Eclipse Trip: Flying West 

  1. IM SO EXCITED, I’m leaving school early to see it at the library where other people are going to see it! I’m not going to see totality, BUT at least I get to see 67% of the eclipse! Also science in McCoughlough doesn’t seem as fun as your class so far (and I don’t think it ever will be) I’m also kinda upset that space is only ONE day this year! Ugh! (I heard it’s an entire unit in 8th though!) ALSO ONE MORE THING; Cassini! One more month left till POOF, gone. I’ve been watching the count down non-stop! Ok I’m done rambling, Have a safe flight!

    Liked by 1 person

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