Just when you thought it was safe to look at the sun again.
OK, strike that, it’s never safe to look at the sun — unless you are wearing special sun-proof goggles.
Just when you thought it was safe to take off and put away those special sun-proof goggles after last week’s eclipse and the resulting eclipse-mania that swept the country, think again.
That’s because, if you believe what’s been trending on social media over the last week or so, the next big solar event is just around the corner.
There are only six years, seven months, eight days until the next solar eclipse casts a shadow over our part of the world.
So if you have already made plans for April 8, 2024, between 2 and 6 p.m., you may want to rethink them.
Not only will Maine be in line for this next event, we are in the path of totality, meaning a large swath of the central and northern part of the state will experience the moon completely blocking out the sun for a period of several minutes.
Let the countdown begin!
So far, I’ve seen just one event listed in anticipation of the 2024 eclipse. Gary Allen, one of the founders of Millinocket Marathon, has listed what is being called “ Millinockeclipse,” a running race taking place during the event out and back on the Golden Road.
As of this week, 468 people have indicated on the event’s Facebook page they are going to participate.
But if the activity leading up to this last eclipse is any indication, there will be plenty of other events popping up over the next six years, seven months and eight days.
Last week’s totality spread over my home state of Oregon and since I subscribe to the Oregonian’s news feed, I was able to keep track of the cosmic and capitalistic excitement leading up to more than 1 million people descending on the state to watch a total eclipse of the sun.
Some of the best viewing was in some of the most remote parts of the state, so farms, ranches and other large landowners worked to turn their property into massive campsites to accommodate the eclipse chasers.
Don’t think for a second I’m not contemplating a similar move for Rusty Metal Farm.
However, I will not be among those who ended up gouging visitors with exorbitant camping fees. Or the hotels, I am ashamed to say, that canceled reservations made years in advance in anticipation of the eclipse and then told the unlucky guests they could have their rooms back at double, triple or even quadruple the cost.
No, here on Rusty Metal Farm, I sense a day in 2024 very much how we spent this past eclipse. Relaxed, looking skyward and accompanied by critters.
And, in the best spirit of Rusty Metal Farm, we did so channeling my late husband Patrick, a top petanteur, someone who could fabricate anything.
With no special goggles available, I went scrounging in the shop and came out with Patrick’s ancient welding helmet. I’m pretty sure it was used to weld rivets on the original Queen Elizabeth ocean liner.
I packed that up, along with a tripod, my camera fitted with a powerful zoom lense, water, snacks and Rusty Metal tiny dog Chiclet and off we trooped to the pond, the spot I had earlier designated the perfect viewing area.
Northern Maine was projected to see about 55 percent of totality, which was 55 percent more of any eclipse I had ever seen before.
I’ll admit to being pretty geeked out about it. Chiclet? Not so much.
For awhile she sat with me on the picnic table near the pond as I — safely — scanned the skies. Then she wandered off to sniff the raspberry patch and gobble a few berries down.
From there she spent time chasing frogs until she ended up on top of a pile of old lumber exploring all the nooks and crannies.
By the time the sun was beginning to fade in the moon’s shadow, she was back, curled up on my hat taking a nap.
Underwhelmed would be putting it mildly.
I, on the other hand, was having a marvelous time divided between viewing the phenomena through the old welding helmet and then hanging the helmet over the camera’s lense to get photos.
The weather cooperated with clear skies and it really was a pretty good show.
From everything I read, it went well out in Oregon, too — despite fears of massive traffic jams, overburdened cell towers and potential wildfires in the drought-stricken region.
For the most part, it seemed everyone looked up, ooo-ed and awww-ed and, for two or three dark moments, forgot anything that made them angry with their fellow man.
Seems to me, we should be able to hang on to that shared unity and learn from it.
It would be a real pity if we have to wait another six years, seven months and eight days to experience that again.
Oh, and don’t worry: If 2024 is rained out or if you blink and miss it, we have another shot at totality in the region in 2079.
And yes, there is already a Facebook page for it.