Chasing the Eclipse

2016 Solar eclipse sequence

Solar Eclipse Day (2024)

Apr 8

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

Chasing the Eclipse

Eclipse chasers are people who travel to see an astronomical event.   Eclipse chasers were out full force in 2017 as the first total solar eclipse (when the moon moves directly between Earth and the sun) visible in the United States in nearly four decades dazzled on Aug. 21, 2017.

 

During the so-called Great American Total Solar Eclipse, the 70-mile-wide (110 kilometers) shadow cast by the moon darkened skies from Oregon to South Carolina.  This eclipse was particularly rare for its accessibility. The August event will go down as the first total solar eclipse whose path of totality stayed completely in the United States since 1776!

The next great American Solar Eclipse will take place April 8th in 2024 and is predicted to be even more spectacular.

In the meantime, eclipse chasers will have to travel to further away locales to see totality:

  • Dec 14, 2020 (S. Pacific, Chile, Argentina, S. Atlantic)

  • Dec 4, 2021 (Antarctica, Southern Ocean)

  • Apr 20, 2023 (East Timor, Indonesia, ~Australia)

  • Apr 8, 2024 (Mexico, United States, Canada)

  • Aug 12, 2026 (Greenland, Iceland, N. Atlantic, Spain)

  • Aug 2, 2027 (N. Atlantic, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Indian Ocean)

  • Jul 22, 2028 (Indian Ocean, Australia, New Zealand, S. Pacific)

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Many wild animals have been known to treat a total solar eclipse like an abrupt midday night. 

During an eclipse, many songbirds may retire to wherever they normally sleep, perform their typical dusk serenade and then quiet down for the "night." When the eclipse ends a few seconds or minutes later, they interpret it as morning and respond with a dawn chorus. 

During a total solar eclipse in July 1991, orb-weaving spiders in Mexico acted normally until totality, when many took down their webs — only to rebuild them when the sun reappeared.

Crepuscular animals often mistake solar eclipses for twilight, too. Crickets and frogs may jump into a dusk chorus, and mosquitoes and midges may start their evening swarms. And in the midst of a total solar eclipse, it can be dark enough not only to quiet down diurnal animals, but also to lure out the nocturnal animals such as  bats and owls.

To see a performance of this dance by the Arkansas Scottish Country Dance Society,  in Little Rock, Arkansas, 2014, see below.

For a spectacular set of pictures from the August 21st, 2017 eclipse, click the vintage sun and moon eclipse drawing below.

Chasing the Eclipse
Chasing the Eclipse

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