Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Eagle is Tired of Holding Up the World

Sunday's Upcoming Eclipse

According to the Chumash, one explanation for an eclipse is that the eagle which holds up the world gets stiff, and so he stretches his wings for a moment, just to rest.  Doing so blocks the sun.

That will be happening on Sunday afternoon, but the view will be better "down below," as folks in the Antelope Valley refer to the infernal and demonic regions of Los Angeles.  Apparently the hierarchy must be like this: Heaven, Bishop, Lancaster and Palmdale, Los Angeles, Hell.  Going over the mountains down into the LA Basin means venturing ever closer and closer to Hades itself --- one goes "down below."

Taking that risk, though, may be worth it on Sunday night, especially if there's no marine layer predicted.  The partial solar eclipse would be observed best from the Griffith Planetarium.  If it is clear in the west, here's the expected progression, as taken from Page 21 of the May 2012 issue of their members' magazine, The Griffith Observer

A super bold-faced note of warning here.  It's not a wives' tale.  YOU MUST NOT LOOK AT THE SUN.  It really will fry your jellybeans.  And simple welder's goggles may not be good enough either.  Here is what the Griffith Observatory staff remind us: "The only safe way to view the eclipse directly is through a solar filter, which not only dims the sun in visible light by a factor of 100,000, but also blocks invisible ultraviolet and infrared radiation."

I keep mine around all the time, to use from year to year.  Here's my household pair, with what is now probably dated graphics.

For those who would like to blow off finals --- faculty included --- this eclipse path will include China, the Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park.

Easier is just to go to the Griffith Observatory, in the Los Feliz area of Hollywood.  They have both text about what an eclipse is as well as information on their public events on their website.  Here is the page link:

Parking will be tricky, so plan on wearing your sneakers and having to walk up the hill from parking areas nearer to the Greek Theater. 

I once saw a total eclipse of the sun, in Costa Rica.  That's worth a special blog post itself, but for now, just two reminders: wear sneakers because Griffith Park parking will be an issue, and never ever look at the sun directly, even during a nearly-complete eclipse.

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