Thursday, March 23, 2006

Darkness at noon

As you read this, I am on my way to Turkey and -- with luck and cloudless skies -- a total solar eclipse (TSE). Postings here may be sporadic for the next ten days, but I'm taking my laptop and hope to be with you. It's a WiFi world, they say.

Why Turkey?

If you stay in one place, the average time you will have to wait for a TSE -- one of nature's most spectacular phenomena -- is 375 years. During my lifetime, there were TSEs in the northern mid-US in 1945 and 1954, along the extreme east coast in 1970, and in the northwest in 1979. I missed them all. The next US TSE will be right across the country from northwest to southeast in 2017. If you live in Southern Illinois, you will have a TSE in 2017 and 2024 without leaving home. Jackpot! You can see the tracks of TSEs over five millennia at this terrific NASA website.

This will be my second TSE. I was on a ship in the Black Sea for the TSE of August 11, 1999.

More on all of this as we go along.