20 May Eclipse of the Sun – Visible in North America

Once upon a time, back in the late 70’s, a friend and I drove north in the dead, and I mean dead of winter, wayyyy north of Winnipeg, so that we could see a total eclipse of the Sun.  We parked in a place that so flat and featureless that it seemed concave, the horizon visible 360°.  We listened on shortwave radio to track the penumbra and umbra… totality.

When it came, we could see the shadow of the moon rushing towards us across the flat, white face of the Earth.

On 20 May there will be visible in the USA an annular, not total, eclipse.  You might make some plans to see it if you are in the area of best viewing, or even if it is an area of partial viewing.  You and your children might wind up with a great memory!


Also, think about reading Michael O’Brien’s Father Elijah (UK HERE), followed – in this order – by Strangers and Sojourners, Plague Journal and then Eclipse of the Sun.

I think they describe, as many of O’Brien’s books do, the spiritual war being waged in our time.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JoAnna says:

    We live in the Phoenix metro area, and we’re driving up to the Four Corners area on Sunday especially to view this eclipse. My husband even purchased special eclipse glasses for everyone!

  2. Supertradmum says:

    I am living in the Days of Noah here in Kent. I would like to see the sun, period.

  3. Pedantic Classicist says:

    I am in the east, so will have to sadly postpone my STAREDOWN with the eclipse. Oh well, but next time, I’m gonna make that ole’ reprobate BLINK! All the most awesome people stare at eclipses!

    Argh, the double N of annular drives me nuts, even though I know that the double N version of anularis is a perfectly cromulent Latin word, at least in the middle ages. Darn it, every Thomas, Ricardus, et Harrius is gonna think it has something to do with “year” now.

    INTERESTING that you should mention that series, Fr. Z. I am currently rereading it, and have just gotten out of one of Eclipse of the Sun’s little novellas (the one that ends with the snail). O’Brien is fantastic, and he only gets better and better with each new book. EoTS perhaps needed a little more editing, but is still well worth the time. Fr. Andrei has to be among my top three priests in literature. Anyway, I second Fr. Z’s recommendation. I particularly would recommend Strangers and Sojourners for 20-somethings struggling with the tension between idealism/intellectualism and reality/commitment.

    Well, happy ring-eclipse to all you lucky people who will see it. And please, for the love of Heracles, unless you have adamantine eyes like mine, DON’T stare at it.

    Pax et bonum. PC

  4. Laura98 says:

    I also live in the metro-Phoenix area… and hope to see a partial eclipse here. Can’t make it up to northern AZ or 4-corners area. A family friend is already up there and eagerly waiting for the event! I’m sure there will be some beautiful pictures and videos.

    I remember the full solar eclipse we had here back in 1990 – which was amazing.

  5. JohnE says:

    When we say “…all things visible and invisible” in the Creed, this applies to the Sun most of the time in Western Oregon. Still, there’s at least a better chance this time of the year…

  6. frjim4321 says:

    Thank you for that info.

  7. jmgazzoli says:

    A solar eclipse: the cosmic ballet goes on.


  8. LaudemGloriae says:

    Read “Father Elijah” – then give it to all your friends and relations. Every Catholic needs to read this book. Just do it!

  9. elaurier says:

    The viewing in Albuquerque is supposed to be great! We can’t wait! I guess we are having a lot of visitors in town just for the eclipse.

  10. Jael says:

    The Father’s Tale is also a great read. It, too, could use some editing, but I loved the book. My main objection is that O’Brien spent so little time on why the boy got into the cult, then out of it, that this whole framework for the story was just not believable. However, the bulk of the book was believable, and a very worthwhile read in spite of that annoying flaw.

  11. chris1 says:

    Jmgazolli, thank you for the clip! Love that bit.

    I was going to start talking like Will Ferell as Harry Caray…once I stared at the sun for hours…

  12. AnnAsher says:

    The Fathers Tale was amazing; Landscape With Dragons hugely informative. I want to read this series as well.

  13. UncleBlobb says:

    Looks like I’m up for Plague Journal next!

  14. Xmenno says:

    When I read O’brien’s series a number of years ago, I thought they were excellent, and have read everything he has published since. I still think his work is excellent, and given the turn of events in our country, I must add that I now think they are chillingly prophetic.
    I would recommend “Cry of Stone,” my yearly lenten reading, which explores humility and redemptive suffering which our world needs now more than ever.

  15. don Jeffry says:

    If you go to see it, take a raw egg with you. You can stand an egg on its end during the peak moments of the eclipse. I did it when there was a total eclipse in Europe. I can’t be sure that it will work during an annular but I imagine it would. I drove to the Strasbourg area to watch the eclipse around the year 2000. I had an egg and showed everybody that it wouldn’t stand on its end in normal conditions and explained that it would during the eclipse (I was laughed at of course) but then they saw that it actually did stand on its end during the eclipse. Whenever they saw it then suddenly I wasn’t so ridiculous! don Jeffry

  16. ContraMundum says:

    You can’t do anything with an egg during an eclipse that you can’t do with the egg when an eclipse is not happening. The combined pull of the sun and moon on the top of the egg is only infinitesimally stronger than on the bottom of the egg — and, for that matter, the odds are strongly against the eclipse being directly overhead. (No doubt that happens every few centuries, but only by rare coincidence. For those of us in the continental US, the sun is NEVER directly overhead.)

    We hear the same stories about eggs on the equinoxes.

    I’m not saying that you didn’t balance the egg; maybe you’re very clever at that kind of thing. I’m saying that the positions of the sun and moon had nothing to do with your trick, other than perhaps to give you greater confidence that you would succeed.

  17. jameeka says:

    I saw the eclipse this evening, was amazing even through slight clouds. Everything got quiet, including all the birds, in Portland, Oregon.

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