By Connie Denney
With the turn of the calendar, we dwell in the month of the total solar eclipse, 2017 edition. It’s very likely you already know to expect it Monday, August 21.
Even the United States Postal Service is in on the act. The reverse side of a sheet of 16 “Total Eclipse of the Sun” postage stamps tracks the path of the total eclipse across a map of the U.S. A black protective sleeve for the stamps is available for 25cents. Why you would want that is “revealed” in a really cool way.
By definition, solar eclipse relates to the moon’s blocking light from the sun as it passes between the earth and the sun. It is not my purpose to go into scientific explanations here. There are sources for many, many facts—and, you may want to pursue them. Certainly, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is one you may want to explore.
Speaking of NASA, that organization is to thank for a grant enabling the Unicoi County Public Library to host a drop-in event Saturday, August 12, for those wanting to learn more about the eclipse and how to view it safely. Special glasses will be available. (See Library Director Angie Georgeff’s column elsewhere in this issue.) A viewing party for the 21st is in the works, too, with details to be available later.
When I decided to write this column, I knew I wanted to contact Damaris Higgins, advertising director for this newspaper, who used to write a column titled “In the Stars.” As for the importance of the eclipse to someone not “a fanatic like me,” she referred to the “once in a lifetime chance” to view a total eclipse of the sun,” adding that in East Tennessee that’s approximately 97 percent to total eclipse. The last in Tennessee was August 7, 1869, and the next in the state will be October 17, 2153.
Damaris once wrote in her “stargazing” column that she is “also insanely passionate about music,” noting, “I seem to ‘feel’ more than I ‘hear’” some songs. She told how she once decided to “combine these two passions” and described the experience as “utterly blessed.”
Having studied piano from the age of six through high school, she is a pianist at Lighthouse Baptist Church, Unicoi, and sings and plays for occasions. She credits her parents for keeping her in music lessons, “because of them I have this amazing love and blessing of music that I don’t know how I could live without.”
Damaris has not decided for sure where she will be for Eclipse 2017. A scenario she favors involves family members hiking to High Rocks on the Appalachian Trail near Spivey Gap. Combining the fellowship, fun and elevation should make for a spectacular show, if the weather cooperates. The other option would be her own back deck south of Erwin. Wherever she is, no doubt the scenario will involve music (through earphones, if disturbing others is an issue) chosen to accompany an event of a lifetime. She is making the playlist.