Novel Research and Total Eclipse

August is an exciting month! There is a total solar eclipse within reach and it is available near Cahokia where my next novel will be set and I can do some additional research.

I must admit that my husband and I are bit fans of total eclipses. This will be our third. Our first was on July 20, 1963. We traveled by car and train to the northern wilds of Canada to Moose River Crossing. We went with the Astronomy Department of Northwestern University where my husband was a student. The weather was hot with about 20 hours of sunlight per day and the insects were ferocious. The day of the eclipse was clear and we had a wonderful view. As the moon covered the face of the sun, the temperature dropped and the light level went down. At totality, the sky was dark, but not black. Around 360 degrees of the horizon, there was a red band in the sky, similar to what you can sometimes see near the sun at sunset. It was an amazing experience.

Almost seven years later, on Mar. 7, 1970, we traveled to south Georgia for another total eclipse. This experience was entirely different. The sky was cloud covered—100 per cent. Again as the moon began to cover the sun, light levels went down, so we knew the eclipse was occurring even though we couldn’t see it. At totality, everything went completely dark. We were out in the country so there were no lights around. The animals in the area started barking, mooing, generally raising a racquet. My memories of that day are of the sounds, not the sight.

On August 21 were will be in the path of totality again. Who knows what this experience will be

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