Other eclipses I’d like to see

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What a rare and wonderful experience it was—a total solar eclipse. Thousands came to Rochester to see it. Even with cloud cover, as I stood on the lawn and watched the world darken, I thought how amazing!

Unfortunately, we won’t see another in North America until 2044. But why wait 20 years? There are lots of other eclipses I’d enjoy seeing in the meantime.

Let me explain.

“Eclipse” means “to obscure or block out.” 

In a solar eclipse, the moon comes between Earth and the sun, thus blocking our view of the sun.

Think of what that means: the sun, astronomers tell us, is 400 times bigger across than the moon. And yet the tiny moon—when lined up just right—can completely block out the giant sun.

  Our little moon—which if it had the bad luck to get too close to the sun would be burned up in a second—nevertheless can blot the sun from our view for nearly four full minutes.    

Now, out in space, that may be a rare occurrence, but down here on Earth, small things have been eclipsing bigger things for a long time. It does happen.

I’m thinking of the Biblical David when he eclipsed the giant Goliath. Of early Christianity eclipsing the Roman Empire. Of George Washington’s rag-tag army eclipsing the might of Great Britain. And of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott launching a movement that eclipsed Southern racial segregation.

 Or, on a lighter note, the hapless 1969 New York Mets when they eclipsed the World Series. Or the amateur Susan Boyle when she eclipsed Britain’s Got Talent by singing “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Truth is, we are fortunate to live in a world where the small sometimes can eclipse the great.

Where one afternoon spent with a good friend can eclipse loneliness.

Where a quick call to mom to say you’ve arrived safely can eclipse a parent’s entire night of worry.

Where vivid memories of the people we’ve loved can eclipse the anonymity of death.

So, while we wait for the next total solar eclipse in 2044, here are a few eclipses—from the quotidian to the quixotic—I’d enjoy seeing in the meantime:

■ supermarket shoppers eclipse self-checkout by favoring businesses that re-hire cashiers;

■ homeowners eclipse noisy and polluting gas-powered leaf blowers by switching to quiet, clean electric blowers or hiring landscapers that will do the same;

■ individual medical researchers with ingenuity and perseverance eclipse cancer, including childhood cancer;

■ a wise and true leader emerges to eclipse the polarization that threatens to rend the nation.

I could go on, but how about you? What other eclipses would you like to see while we wait for 2044?  Write to the Beacon; we’d like to know.

Peter Lovenheim is Washington correspondent for the Rochester Beacon. He is author of In the Neighborhood and other works. His newest book, Gift Shop of Gratitude, will be published this November. He can be reached at [email protected].

The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

3 thoughts on “Other eclipses I’d like to see

  1. NEGATIVE ECLIPSES we might notice and protest?
    What a terrific idea from Peter Lovenheim. But what about negative situations.
    Perhaps, we can refer to the eclipse of 2024, when we feel defeated by interference in life.
    For example, when people cut us off, in conversations, by interrupting, or changing the subject we might remind them of April 8. And when we interrupt others, we might stop ourselves…
    We might throw our hands up in the air, to pause… Thank you, Peter…

  2. Another brilliant essay from Mr. Lovenheim. Brings back a memory of my own “Little Moon” from the back seat of my best friend’s Mom’s ’67 Bel Aire that almost got me in Big Trouble.

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