Thursday, August 22, 2019 -
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The excitement of the eclipse

The upcoming total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 has captured the imagination of Americans. For the first time in nearly a century — one year shy, the last one was in 1918 — a total solar eclipse will be visible across the contiguous United States. A total eclipse for the totality of the Lower 48. That inclusiveness has swept the nation — despite the fact that most Americans will not be able to see the total solar eclipse.

Coloradans are fortunate to be near two of the prime viewing spots, specifically in Wyoming and Nebraska. IJN readers further afield, such as those in Cheyenne, Wyo., are even better positioned.

Naturally, the eclipse has become a dominant theme in this region, covered in newspapers, radio and TV, and discussed on social media. Even local businesses have gotten in on it; Grease Monkey, for example, is offering free eclipse viewing glasses, as is Denver Public Library.

We have sensed this excitement, this thrill, growing for some time, which is why we covered the eclipse extensively in our Aug. 4 edition. We covered the critical stuff — like how to protect your eyes, especially for those who won’t make it to Wyoming or Nebraska, but will still experience a 92% eclipse in the Denver area. We also spoke to Rabbi Jack Shlachter, a physicist and eclipse enthusiast, who ruefully acknowledged that there is no real Jewish connection between Judaism and eclipses, but did cite mentions of such phenomena in ancient Jewish works.

The total solar eclipse is not merely a local phenomenon; it is being discussed nationally, on NPR, for example. ABC reports about the couple in Missouri planning on exchanging vows during that brief window of time. Everyone is fascinated by this natural phenomenon that will briefly plunge parts of the globe into utter darkness.

In a time of great division, we Americans are in need of something to bring us together. It is ironic that removing light is imbuing people with a light-hearted, communal feel. But then, the universe works in mysterious ways.

Copyright © 2017 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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