August 19, 2017

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1

So…maybe you’ve heard there’s a solar eclipse happening Monday?
Googling the event brings up a ton of sites dedicated to the occasion, but NASA’s has just about everything you’d want to know about the event, including an interactive map of the eclipse’s course. Smithsonian has a solar eclipse app.
And of course I’m going to direct you to the National Park Service’s website. Twenty-one parks and 7 trails in the parks system, from Oregon to South Carolina, are within the 60-70 mile wide total eclipse pathway. Homestead National Monument of America (a place dear to my heart, since I was its first Artist in Residence in 2009) is hosting a slew of eclipse-related events now through Monday–Bill Nye will be there! The National Park Foundation, the Park Service’s financial arm, offers some suggestions of great parks spots for viewing, as does Popular Science magazine.
But unless you’re planning to hop in your car and drive to locations within the totality (the point at which the moon completely blocks the sun) viewing area—and sleep in your auto, too, because most every kind of lodging has already been spoken for (some booked years in advance)—you’ll probably see only a partial eclipse, which of course will still be pretty great. Just remember to watch safely (I managed to snag 4 pairs of safety glasses–another thing in short supply–this past week at a new 7-11 opening in our area. Or just watch it unfold on TV or live stream it online.
Hankering for a souvenir? Naturally there will be T-shirts and all sort of paraphernalia, but check out these national park eclipse posters made by a physics and astronomy professor, inspired by old Works Progress Administration illustrations.
A big deal, right? That’s because it’s rare to have it pass entirely over the North American continent. The last time was back in 1979, and we’ll have to wait until April 8, 2024 to see another one in our country.
By the way, isn’t it incredible that we even know when the next one will be? Our Creator not only set the natural world in motion, but continues to “hold all things together” (Colossians 1:15-17)—and sometimes He lets us discover a few of His secrets!
Many Americans—and lots of eclipse fanatics from all over the globe—will gaze skyward on August 21. We’ll watch in astonishment and amazement. We might scream, cry or fall to our knees in wonder, as people have in the past.
Would that we would look up more often, pausing in our busyness to contemplate what we so often take for granted—the vastness, beauty and marvel of the heavens, a display that continually testifies to the magnificent, fantastic and one-of-a-kind God who, every once in a while amps up the spectacle, reminding us in a fantastic way just how awesome He really is.

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