The Eclipse Isn’t Just a Natural Process — It’s a Historical Event

Our family isn’t great about planning things in advance. There have been years when, say, Pesach would be coming in about a week, and we realized we hadn’t ordered all the food we’d need for the seders, leading to a few rather frantic trips to the kosher supermarket.

So while we had been hearing about the upcoming eclipse, we had sort of figured that a 90% partial eclipse (the path along which we live) would be a decent enough experience, and didn’t spend a whole lot of time mapping out a plan – we’d go outside, say, “Cool!” a few times like we did for the 2017 eclipse, and then go back inside.

But then we heard that a partial eclipse wouldn’t be anything like totality. Having no real point of comparison, I sent a note to my friend Dr. Ethan Siegel, an astrophysicist who writes for Big Think, and asked whether investing all the time, energy, and hassle for getting to see the totality would be worth it. He gave an answer that made us book a hotel right that moment: “As someone who has seen partial, annular, and total eclipses, I have to say that a 90% partial eclipse is about a 5 out of 10; an annular eclipse is about a 9 out of 10; and a total eclipse is about a 1,000,000 out of 10.” So, while we’re definitely a bit nervous about cloud cover, running out of snacks, and bumper-to-bumper traffic, we’ve now got a plan for Monday, April 8, 2024.

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