Editorial: Come to a halt, just one afternoon
It won’t happen, but wouldn’t it be great if Laurens County life could come to an absolute halt about 2 p.m. on Monday, August 21. That’s the day we lose the sun.
Lose it for 2 minutes and 30 seconds anyway. It’s The Great American Eclipse. For people the age of this newspaper’s editor, it is a sight - not to mention a news story - that will never again be seen in a lifetime.
For a few people alive today, there will be other chances. The total solar eclipse will come close to South Carolina in 2045. An eclipse will clip South Carolina’s southern end in 2052. For most of us, Aug. 21, 2017, is a now or never thing.
Businesses are looking to make money from the eclipse. It cannot be seen in its totality in North Carolina or Georgia, so it’s logical to assume those folks might want to travel to South Carolina. They will be especially attracted to Columbia where there’s lots of hotels and viewing space, and totality will be 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
Communities are having viewing parties. Campgrounds will be magnets for people who enjoy the outdoors, spiced this summer with a solar eclipse. But, there are dangers.
People will be driving - likely at super-sonic speeds on our interstates - during the eclipse. The sky will be as black as night “all of a sudden” then will re-lighten - in the middle of the day. For unsuspecting drivers, this can be disorienting. That’s why we’re saying, let life come to a standstill. Drivers on the interstates, pull over into a rest area - watch (with approved eclipse glasses) and wait it out.
People will be picking their kids up from school. The 2 - 2:30 - 3 p.m. letting out times are going to be right in the sweet spot for the eclipse in Laurens County. Schools are going to want to develop science lessons around the eclipse and, certainly, they are going to want their students to actually see it. NASA will broadcast it live - in fact, two giant airplanes are going to track it, filming the whole way.
Some parents likely will take their children from school early, or let them skip and go on a family outing to watch the eclipse. That’s a personal choice but, remember, they can miss only 10 days. Missing a day three days into the school year makes their margin for missing pretty slim the rest of the year.
Eclipse day will be the Holy Grail for photographers - professional and amateur. Thousands of images will be taken and downloaded from camera phones. But photographers are going to want to focus on the sun (with an approved eclipse filter up until totality when the filter comes off) and get that “money shot” - the black moon with the glowing ring. A host of mind-blowing astronomical curiosities are going to happen during the eclipse - to be captured by telescopes. Still, a photographer can just dream of that “shot of a lifetime.” There’s even a way to upload photos for a shot at being in a book - tracking the eclipse across America.
So, we are urging awareness - between 2 and 3 p.m. on Monday, August 21, 2017, just stay calm, slow down and find a place to watch. If there’s a watch party, there will be cheering. If you’re watching in a forest, you will hear the nightlife come alive. If you’re watching through a telescope, wow, textbooks just don’t do it justice. Then, somewhere around McClellanville, where Hurricane Hugo came ashore, the eclipsed sun will leave the eastern shore of the United States.
It is something beyond our control. Something that mankind did not put into motion. Something we are powerless to stop, and why would we want to. Something, some time in our lives when we just need to stop, and watch.
(More about the eclipse on The Clinton Chronicle's Aug. 2 Spotlight Page.)