A total solar eclipse is an opportunity for serious science and not just another chance to be entertained, though you’re excused if, this month, you can’t tell the difference.
First, a future fact: A total eclipse is expected to be visible in a 70-mile-wide swath of North America starting at about 10:21 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 21. In Southern California, it’ll be roughly 69 percent visible, but the full day-into-night-back-into-day-again conditions will roll out over several hours from the Oregon coast through parts of Wyoming and Colorado and on to South Carolina. It’s expected to be the most observed total eclipse ever.
Don’t take our word for this last factoid, just skim a few of the thousands of eclipse stories churned out by American media this month: “How to make a cereal box a pinhole projector.” “Eclipse craze creates opportunities for scammers.” “Eclipse tips for parents” “Best restaurants in the U.S. for watching the eclipse.”
Lots of eclipse coverage, you’ll note, is about lifestyle; very little is about science. And it’s all confirmation of the theory that, yes, an eclipse can generate its very own news cycle.