A rare total eclipse of the sun will be visible across swaths of the continental U.S. for the first time since 1979. Here’s our coverage of when, where and how to safely watch the cosmic event and live updates from prime venues in the “path of totality.”
Eclipse Playing Muse to Market Analysts
The solar eclipse has captured the fascination of skygazers across America. Count market analysts among them. The number of references to the celestial event in Monday’s analyst notes were, ahem, astronomical.
“Will geopolitics eclipse the focus on Jackson Hole?,” asked the foreign exchange team at BMO Capital Markets, referring to a much-anticipated central bank symposium at the end of the week.
GLENDO, Wyo.—A festival-like atmosphere was developing in the early-morning hours at an airstrip near the state park in Glendo, Wyo., about 100 miles north of Cheyenne.
The chatter among those gathered to see darkness descend was the weather. Two days ago, the forecast for Glendo, a flyspeck town smack in the middle of totality’s path, was for a cloud cover. But a late-breaking high pressure system down from Alberta kept the clouds away. The result: a brilliantly sunny, cloudless day.
Hordes of travelers made the three-hour trip from Denver up I-25 starting well before dawn.
From the backs of trailers and vans, amateur stargazers set up their tools, long-lens cameras on tripods and high-powered telescopes, some resembling short-barreled cannons set close to the ground. All
were oriented to the western sky.
“It’s like a Star Trek convention combined with Backpacking World,” said Kip Tani, who made the three-hour drive up from Ft. Collins, Colo., starting at 4 a.m., with his family. “It’s quite a scene.”
Eclipse Could Cost U.S. Employers Nearly $700 Million
Americans presumably won’t be working while they watch the heavens during Monday’s solar eclipse. Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. estimated the total cost of that lost productivity at $694 million.
That calculation was based on wage and other data and assumed workers would take about 20 minutes to gather their glasses, find a good spot and watch the show.
But the outplacement firm warned there isn’t much that companies can do about it.
“It’s going to be pretty difficult to get people to keep working when the solar eclipse is happening, and preventing employees from viewing it will probably do more to harm morale than to increase productivity,” Challenger said.
Today’s eclipse may help add to the body of literature on one lingering mystery: how do animals respond to nature’s grand celestial event?
Little research has been done so far, mainly because solar eclipses are so uncommon, said Margaret Rousser, conservation manager at the Oakland Zoo in California. Of the few studies that have been done, she said, here are some tentative observations: some fish return into their reef where they usually spend the night, spiders call it a day by taking down their webs and chimpanzees huddle closer together in their family group, as they would do at night – looking perhaps a bit anxiously up at the retreating sun.
“It’s something novel and they’re not sure how to react to it,” Ms. Rousser said. “It’s something they don’t know if it’s a threat or not.”
But Ms. Rousser said it’s hard to predict what each animal will do, because species may act differently. One thing is for sure, though, she said: they will be taken by surprise. “This is an event that comes out of nowhere for them ,” she said, “and they’re not real sure about it.”
CLEMSON, S.C.—Eclipse fans began gathering early Monday morning in Clemson, S.C., which is close to the center of the path of totality that cuts through the state and is expected to experience 2 minutes and 37 seconds of darkness.
The town of 16,000 people is home to Clemson University, which is hosting an “Eclipse over Clemson” event that includes a series of scientific presentations and family friendly activities starting late morning and running until the eclipse is over, just after 4 p.m.
All over this area of South Carolina, locals were renting out rooms to eclipse fans, while some businesses looked to cash in. One fireworks store advertised fireworks that last two minutes–just long enough for the darkness.
Fans made the trek to Clemson Monday morning from nearby towns outside the total eclipse zone and more distant locales, including New York City. While visitors to town headed to the university, some local residents planned to watch the eclipse at home.
Christy Hebert, faith formation coordinator at Saint Andrew Catholic Church, said she had kept her 10 and 13-year-old daughters home from school, and that the family would watch the eclipse outside next to their home. “I felt it would be better to be off the roads,” she said.
John Brancazio, a church volunteer, planned to spend the afternoon at his house on Lake Keowee, where his neighborhood is throwing a block party once the sunlight starts to return. He said he will turn the lights on in his pool before it gets dark, then watch the eclipse lying in the lighted pool.
The two were selling parking spots at the church to raise money for religious education. Businesses in town were also selling parking spots to arriving visitors.
Fr. Bob Menard, O.F.M, a Franciscan friar who is Clemson’s campus minister, said he didn’t have special plans to watch the eclipse, though he is looking forward to what may be learned from the eclipse. “From a scientific point of view, it’s an opportunity to do research that can’t normally be done,” he said.