We’re kicking off an exciting month of astronomical events. Yesterday’s partial lunar eclipse, visible from the Eastern Hemisphere was just the prelude to the Great American Eclipse happening Aug. 21.

The Yampa Valley basking in the sun

The eclipse marks the first time in 99 years a total solar eclipse will traverse the entire Continental US. This is special; it makes me wish I were more of a planner. For months, friends and acquaintances have been talking about their travel plans to be in the path of totality. Here in Steamboat, at it’s peak we will be able to see a 93.8 percent eclipse of the sun. Pretty good, but according to a New York Times article, nothing like the full deal, where you actually see stars. One friend called the experience life altering.

Janet, a talented Portland luthier and maker of my violin, described seeing a total eclipse outside of Eugene, Ore., in February 1979. She and her boyfriend trespassed up into the hills above the Maryhill Museum to be above the clouds. They stood in the middle of a herd of cattle. All the cows turned southeast to face the sun as the moon occluded it and began mooing. They then seemed alarmed by the sudden shift to night and fell silent.

We can follow the lead of our furry and feathered friends when it comes to understanding the mystical natural world. Orinthologist William Fiedler says animals treat a total solar eclipse as an “abrupt midday night.” Songbirds sing their evening songs at the onset. When the sun returns, they resume their daybreak routines. Read more about the affect of solar eclipses on animals.

If you are staying here in town, the spectacle will last from about 10:20 a.m. to 1:10 p.m. (It’s about a 125-mile trip northeast to see the total eclipse.) You can see it from anywhere in town, but maybe this is an excuse to go to your favorite mountaintop.

Don’t forget your most important accessory of the day: eclipse viewing glasses. You need the ones certified with the designated ISO 12312-2 international standard. Looking directly at the unfiltered sun can damage your retinas and could cause blindness. City Market just got a large shipment of the right kind of glasses, and they are only $1.99. At last check, there are still a few pairs left at Walmart, too. While our wise animal friends don’t typically look directly at the sun, dogs follow our gazes and pointing fingers, so it would be good to have them sport a pair, too.

You still have time to plan your eclipse adventure. In the meantime, there are some special events in town this weekend. The Steamboat Springs Symphony will have free performances of Lord Nelson Mass at Holy Name Catholic Church at 5 and 7 p.m. Saturday. The Steamboat All Arts Festival is in full swing and will host several Piknik Theater performances.

 

Jessica Berg is a freelance writer and Suzuki Violin teacher. She first moved to Steamboat after college in the mid ’90s and, after a long hiatus, is happy to call Steamboat home again. She runs a private violin studio out of her Steamboat home and teaches violin with Boulder Suzuki Strings. She holds a degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and loves blogging about mountain life.

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