I don’t recall so much being made of an eclipse. Yes, it’s a total solar eclipse and in some places the moon will totally block out the sun for a few minutes.

My hometown of Paris, Texas, is one of those places. It’s a town of about 25,000 people a couple of hours northeast of Dallas. How many people will be in Paris during the eclipse?

So many, it seems, that residents have been told to treat it like an approaching ice storm. Stock up on supplies because store shelves may be empty from all the tourists buying up everything.

I checked on a hotel room in Paris the night before the eclipse. $439. A few days later, it’s down to $140.

Paris, Texas, isn’t the only place that, weather cooperating, will see totality. A large part of the middle of the country will.

Why is this such a big deal? Is it a big deal at all?

Sabine Stanley writes a fascinating opinion piece in the Washington Post: “I’m a planetary physicist. An eclipse is wondrous—don’t underestimate it.”

She writes this: “I’m always been amazed that total solar eclipses are possible. The sun, an 870,000-mile-wide ball of gas over 90 million miles away from us gets completely blocked by the moon, a 2,100-mile-wide ball of rock 240,000 miles away. If the sun were a bit bigger or closer, or if the moon were a bit smaller or farther, totality would not occur. There’s no scientific reason for this; it’s a wondrous coincidence.”

Don’t you love that? A true scientist looking at a phenomenon as a “wondrous coincidence.”

Sabine Stanley also writes of how ancient astronomers viewed eclipses and how modern ones view them. Needless to say, our information on eclipses has changed.

Ryan Milligan is a solar physicist at Queen’s University in Belfast. He writes in the New York Times, “You don’t just see a total solar eclipse. You feel it completely.”

Milligan talks about the temperature drops. The birds and animals go silent. For just a few minutes, day turns to night. Then, it’s over.

I’m starting to wish I had gone home to Paris, Texas, to experience the eclipse firsthand. (I saw one while working in Minneapolis many years ago. It was something.)

To see it in the place where I grew up though. Ahh. Enough with the regrets. I’ll see it from Florida. Not totality, but sixty percent or so.

Yes, I have my approved eclipse glasses. I’m ready for this.

Ready for what the planetary physicist calls “a wondrous coincidence.”

One thought on ““A Wondrous Coincidence.””

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