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2017 Solar Eclipse

6 Months to Go!

February 22, 2017
To say it’s been an amazing past two months would be an understatement.  I am proud to say that we have been overwhelmed with requests in the past two months as word about the 2017 Eclipse has spread like wildfire throughout the media!  Here’s what we’ve done in the past 4 weeks: Shipped out over 25,000 pairs of glasses Received more than 300+ requests from schools and other organizations Participated in two eclipse events in the Missouri area Responded to over 250 emails, with a backlog of about 300 to go! Words cannot express how wonderful this is going! Mom and dad, Robert D. and Jessie L. Stinnett, for whom the private trust for this project is in honor of, would be proud! With 6 months to go, we are looking to purchase another 200,000 pair of glasses for distribution. We continue to look for unique sources of funding outside of the trust to help get these out.  Nonetheless, we are committed to making sure that everyone who request free eclipse glasses gets them! Right now we are backlogged at least 3 weeks. So if you haven’t heard from us lately, don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about you! It’s going to be amazing! Thanks for being a part of the journey! Rob
2017 Solar Eclipse

2017 – The Year of the Great American Eclipse!

January 7, 2017
Can you feel the excitement building?  I sure can!  The August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse across a large portion of the United States is quickly approaching!  While we may all still be working on losing that holiday weight, and shivering in the cold and snow, it won’t be long before we can to experience the show of a lifetime!  I hope you are as excited as I am about this amazing event.  As we kick off 2017 we’ve already given away over 12,000 pair of solar eclipse viewing glasses, and we are on track to give away more than 150,000 pair come August 21st!  That’s amazing and I’m super excited so many people are writing, emailing and sending in their envelopes to get their glasses!  We’re also starting to send out multi-packs to schools and other organizations! One thing I’ve heard from some folks is they have larger families that need more than 3 pair, or they would like a way to just submit the information and pay for postage online to get their free solar viewing glasses.  After looking into how to handle this, I have finally come up with a solution that I think will work!  Now we have 3 ways for you to get your free solar eclipse viewing glasses! You can continue sending in a Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope to receive up to 3 free pair. For large groups or families you can now sending in a Self-Addressed, Stamped Catalog Envelope with $2.00 postage for up to 10 pair free. Many people asked if there was a way to request it electronically and pay for postage.  For those that want to just submit their information online and pay for postage online, we now will accept Paypal payments for postage (Paypal charges roughly 33% in fees, so we had to take into account that).  So for example, if you want the standard 3-pack you can pay via Paypal for $1.50 or if you want the large family/group package you can pay $4.00 via Paypal. As always, I’m constantly looking for suggestions on how to make it easier to get these to people – so don’t by shy if you have a method you think will rock! You can find out more about the new options, find out how to get your free glasses for your family, school or community group, and other information at the Free Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses page. As always, if you have any special requests, or want more information my mailbox is always open at robert@2017solar.com  

15 Tips for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

August 27, 2016
One of the most spectacular natural events that you can ever witness is taking place next year and we want to make sure that you’re ready. Here we present our top 15 tips related to the 2017 American total solar eclipse. 1. Take eclipse day off — now! You may think  year is a bit of a long lead time, and, it may be. The point I’m making is that August 21, 2017, may turn out to be the most popular vacation-day request in history. If not now, figure out the earliest date that makes sense for you to request August 21 as a vacation day, and mark it on your calendar. 2. Make a weekend out of it Eclipse day is a Monday. Lots of related activities in locations touched by the Moon’s inner shadow will occur on Saturday and Sunday. Find out what they are, where they’re being held, and which you want to attend, and make a mini-vacation out of the eclipse. 3. Attend an event Trust me when I say you’ll enjoy the eclipse more if you hook up with like-minded people. If you don’t see any special events scheduled a few months before August 21, call your local astronomy club, planetarium, or science center. Anyone you talk to is sure to know of eclipse activities. 4. Get involved If your interests include celestial events and public service, consider volunteering with a group putting on an eclipse event. You’ll learn a lot and make some new friends in the process. 5. Watch the weather Meteorologists study a chaotic system. Nobody now can tell you with absolute certainty the weather a specific location will experience on eclipse day. And don’t get too tied up in the predictions of cloud cover you’ll see for that date. Many don’t distinguish between “few” (one-eighth to two-eighths of the sky covered), “scattered” (three-eighths to four-eighths), or “broken” (five-eighths to seven-eighths) clouds and overcast. You need to dig deeper. 6. Stay flexible on eclipse day Unless you are certain August 21 will be clear, don’t do anything that would be hard to undo in a short time. For example, let’s say you’re taking a motor home to a certain city. You connect it to power, hook up the sewage hose, extend the awnings, set up chairs, start the grill, and more. But if it’s cloudy six hours, three hours, or even one hour before the eclipse starts, you’re going to want to move to a different location. Think of the time you would have saved if you had waited to set up. Also, the earlier you make your decision to move, the better. I only can imagine what the traffic might be like on eclipse day. 7. Notice it getting cooler? A point-and-shoot camera that takes movies will let you record the temperature drop. Here’s a suggestion: Point your camera at a digital thermometer and a watch, both of which you previously attached to a white piece of cardboard or foamcore. Start recording video 15 or

Experimenting with a Golden Opportunity

August 21, 2016
On August 21, 2017, the spectacle of a total solar eclipse will interrupt daily activities for about 2½ minutes, as the Moon blocks the bright solar surface to reveal the faint, delicate, and filamentary solar corona. Such an extraordinary event hasn’t been seen in the continental United States since 1979. The shadow of the Moon will hurtle across the United States at supersonic speeds, crossing the 2,400 miles from Oregon to South Carolina in about 90 minutes. Most viewers along this path will see the solar corona for only about 2 minutes. During totality they’ll likely see two broad coronal streamers extending east and west above the solar equator, plus a collection of thin filaments called polar plumes above the north and south poles of the Sun. Changes in the density of these delicate structures occur on time scales of 5 to 15 minutes, so while the 2017 total eclipse allows us to view polar plumes with excellent clarity, any given observer will get a frustratingly short glimpse of them. To extend their time in totality, some astronomers have flown under the Moon’s shadow using supersonic aircraft, while others have established networks of telescopes on the ground along an eclipse path. Often, however, an eclipse path spans remote regions of the world or crosses vast oceans, so establishing even just two or three sites within the lunar shadow is a logistical challenge. In contrast, the path of totality in 2017 will be accessible from thousands of convenient locations. In a 2012 paper titled “The U.S. Eclipse Megamovie in 2017,” researchers Hugh Hudson, Scott McIntosh, and others explain how citizen scientists positioned at various locations along totality’s path could collect images of the eclipse and combine them into a continuous video of the event. The Citizen CATE Experiment, a group effort intending to open a new window through which to study the dynamics of the inner solar corona, builds on the ideas introduced in that creative paper. Instead of scattering themselves randomly across the eclipse path, Citizen CATE observers will be positioned at regular intervals, such that as the shadow of the Moon leaves one observer, it will fall on the next one to the east. In this way, Citizen CATE establishes a “relay race” of coronal observations, with one group of observers passing the baton to the next group every 2 minutes or so. Alexandra Hart, an accomplished solar imager from England, compiled the initial list of observing sites and found that, after accounting for access, the effort will require roughly 60 locations to assure continuous coverage or totality. After the eclipse ends, they will then align and interleave the observers’ images and then assemble them into a continuous movie to reveal the dynamics of polar plumes for a full 90 minutes. Since the small community of professional solar astronomers in the U.S. can’t possibly staff 60 observing sites, they’ll rely heavily on the help of amateur astronomers. Citizen CATE is currently compiling a list of diverse volunteers, and will begin training their team in early

Solar Eclipse Observations and Einstein

August 10, 2016
Roughly speaking, a scientific theory is a self-contained explanation of some natural facts and the simpler and more predictive it is, the more powerful. This means that, if the theory is correct, it can forecast the occurrence of some distinguishing events, whose empirical confirmation would strike a blow for the theory itself. The smoking gun of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity has been a phenomenon observed since the solar eclipse of May 1919. It’s a very interesting story also from a historical and sociological point of view, other than being one of the greatest turning points in modern science. Einstein finished working at his General Theory of Relativity right in the beginnings of World War I, and presented his results at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in 1915. His theory broke away from the Newtonian concept of absolute space and time in which natural phenomena just “happen” in favor of a more comprehensive scenario in which space and time are tied to each other and the resulting space-time is shaped by the matter (and therefore the energy) it contains. Although the math behind the General Relativity is awesomely daunting, the underlying concept is simple and elegant: the spacetime of the universe with no matter around (as in an empty universe) is just flat, and the light rays propagate in straight lines. Instead, in presence of a massive body (for example, a star), the spacetime right around it will be distorted. In a two-dimensional analogy, the spacetime can be represented by a billiard table: in the empty universe case, a ball that was thrown will roll smoothly over it, following a straight line. In the same analogy, the massive object, the star, might be depicted as a dip in the middle of the table. The closer you get to it, the more curved the surface will be: the ball will now deviate from a straight line trajectory, and the more, the closer to the dip. Leaving metaphors aside, if a light ray happens to pass close to a massive object such as a star, it will be forced to bend in order to follow the curved spacetime around it, as it cannot travel anywhere else: it has to comply with the warps of the spacetime and cannot just “detach” from it, as there’s nothing else, “outside” it. The consequence is that a star, or a group of stars normally seen at a certain position when the Sun is in another part of the sky, would appear to be slightly shifted when the Sun passes in front of them. Ironically enough, this idea of the light bending had been already formulated by Sir Isaac Newton himself in his Opticks book in 1704. He also computed the predicted value for the light rays bending of background stars when grazing the surface of the Sun: the background stars would appear to be shifted by an angle of 0.87 seconds of arc (when the Sun itself occupies an angle in the sky of about half of

Picking the Perfect Viewing Spots

August 1, 2016
The total solar eclipse that moves diagonally across the country on Aug. 21, 2017, will be the first total solar eclipse visible from the continental United States since 1979. For stellar viewing, meaning where the eclipse will be total and where it will last longer (it’s measured in minutes), the closer you can get to the middle of its path, the better. So if you’re planning to travel to more fully experience the eclipse, here are five areas of the country that are on its path. Salem, Ore. The eclipse shadows that fall across the U.S. on Aug. 21, 2017, will first be cast along the coastline, valleys and mountains of Oregon, with Salem one of several cities in the path of totality. Eola Hills Wine Cellars in neighboring Eola-Amity Hills plans to offer a scenic view of the eclipse and a weekend filled with wine country activities. The winery has three tasting rooms in Rickrell, Legacy Vineyard and McMinnville and is arranging to work with other nearby wineries to offer tasting deals. Eola Hills will also partner with nearby Polk County Fairgrounds to host RV and tent lodging for visitors staying for the entire weekend. A giant country barbecue following the totality on Monday morning will help close the celebrations. The winery is still planning for the eclipse weekend but don’t let that stop you from planning your trip soon. Kristi Reed of The Grand Hotel in Salem says the hotel is almost completely booked for the eclipse. eolahillswinery.com, grandhotelsalem.com, travelsalem.com Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park, Wyo. Visitors can expect dramatic views of the shadows crossing the wide open spaces of Jackson Hole Valley and the surrounding mountains, whether they’re at a private viewing party or settled in at a public campground. Wyoming Stargazing, an educational nonprofit dedicated to astronomy and creating a public observatory and planetarium in Jackson, will host numerous events in and around the town on the day of the eclipse. The group is collaborating with the community-focused Center for the Arts in downtown Jackson for a large public event; Wyoming Stargazing founder Samuel Singer promises that the location will offer great views of the sky. The group also plans to host private events for select locations, including Spring Creek Ranch and Teton Springs. Attendees will have the opportunity to look through the group’s solar telescopes to learn more about sunspots and solar flares in the sun’s upper atmosphere in addition to receiving assistance with prepping their own cameras to get the best shots. wyomingstargazing.org Kansas City, Mo. Stop by Kansas City, Mo., where the city’s lively jazz and art scene and numerous farm-to-table restaurants are sure to dazzle vacationers. The city, which is on the very edge of the path of totality, is expected to experience only about 30 seconds to one minute of totality during the eclipse (the farther north in the city and suburbs you go, the better), but it may prove to be a popular choice for residents between Wyoming and southern Illinois who want to be in the direct path. Check
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2017 Solar Eclipse

6 Months to Go!

February 22, 2017
To say it’s been an amazing past two months would be an understatement.  I am proud to say that we have been overwhelmed with requests in the past two months as word about the 2017 Eclipse has spread like wildfire throughout the media!  Here’s what we’ve done in the past 4
2017 Solar Eclipse

2017 – The Year of the Great American Eclipse!

January 7, 2017
Can you feel the excitement building?  I sure can!  The August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse across a large portion of the United States is quickly approaching!  While we may all still be working on losing that holiday weight, and shivering in the cold and snow, it won’t be long before we

15 Tips for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

August 27, 2016
One of the most spectacular natural events that you can ever witness is taking place next year and we want to make sure that you’re ready. Here we present our top 15 tips related to the 2017 American total solar eclipse. 1. Take eclipse day off — now! You may think  year is a bit of a

Experimenting with a Golden Opportunity

August 21, 2016
On August 21, 2017, the spectacle of a total solar eclipse will interrupt daily activities for about 2½ minutes, as the Moon blocks the bright solar surface to reveal the faint, delicate, and filamentary solar corona. Such an extraordinary event hasn’t been seen in the continental United States

Solar Eclipse Observations and Einstein

August 10, 2016
Roughly speaking, a scientific theory is a self-contained explanation of some natural facts and the simpler and more predictive it is, the more powerful. This means that, if the theory is correct, it can forecast the occurrence of some distinguishing events, whose empirical confirmation would

Picking the Perfect Viewing Spots

August 1, 2016
The total solar eclipse that moves diagonally across the country on Aug. 21, 2017, will be the first total solar eclipse visible from the continental United States since 1979. For stellar viewing, meaning where the eclipse will be total and where it will last longer (it’s measured in