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Monday, May 23, 2016

Earl, Moon and Sun

In Iain M. Banks' 2009 novel Transition, the author hints Earth is a popular destination for disguised alien tourists because our solar system possesses an almost unique astronomical phenomenon: our planet, moon and star are the perfect sizes and in the exact positions necessary to create total solar eclipses at regular intervals. Were the moon or the sun any larger or smaller, or were the moon any closer to or farther away from Earth, perfect solar eclipses would be impossible - and in fact they are a fleeting phenomenon, for eventually our star will indeed grow larger and the moon is getting farther away from us. Eventually - millions of years from now - we won't enjoy total solar eclipses any longer.

So when I learned that a total solar eclipse will cast its shadow across North America next summer, I started making plans. The best spot to see the eclipse in terms of duration and totality, falls somewhere close to Cerulean, Kentucky, at 6:24 p.m. on August 21, 2017. Driving down will take three or four days; alternatively, we could fly to Nashville and rent a car for the short drive to Cerulean.
Here's the main drag in Cerulean. Plenty of room for the tens of thousands of people who will turn out to see the eclipse!

Sylvia has given her tentative approval of this mad scheme, but of course we'll have to see how things go next summer. I really hope we can do this; it really is a rare opportunity. Maybe we'll meet some aliens...even if we don't realize it. 

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