Expect plenty of cries of LOOK UP! a week from tomorrow. “Umbraphilia” is sweeping the nation – and our Martha Teichner is hardly immune:
Forty-five million pairs of customized eclipse glasses — that’s what American Paper Optics figures its factory outside Memphis has turned out.
“Right now we’re producing over 500,000 eclipse glasses a day,” said CEO John Jerit. “We think of it as the Super Bowl of the sky. It’s so big because we’re talking about 300 million people looking at the sky, and they all need eye protection.”
Ready or not, here it comes: Eight days from today, for the first time in 99 years, a solar eclipse will cross the entire continental United States, its path of totality, from Oregon to South Carolina, approximately 70 miles wide. A partial eclipse will be visible elsewhere.
What is a solar eclipse? It’s when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. The darkness is the Moon’s shadow.
“When the sun is about halfway or 3/4 of the way covered, if you have a shade tree around and you look at the sunlight filtering down through the leaves of the shade tree and look down on the ground, you will see crescents on the ground, ’cause the leaves act like pinhole cameras,” said retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak, who is known as “Mr. Eclipse.”
“Just before totality, the sky starts getting dark, and you get one bright bead on the edge of the sun’s disk that’s called the diamond ring effect. And then the Sun, its disk, is completely covered, and the corona is revealed in all its glory.”
Espenak has witnessed 27 solar eclipses; he met his wife at one. So it should come as no surprise that he lives in the Arizona desert, far from city lights, in a development called Sky Village, where residents all have…