We all knew, years in advance, that this day was coming. Our attention spans are short, so we only really started preparing – with the glasses and the filters and our lunch plans – earlier this summer.
So we took the kids, the grandparents, our fellow students, our co-workers, and we all went outside for a bit this afternoon. Novelty glasses in hand, we looked up, and we saw our sky change.
We watched young and old, rich and poor, conservative and liberal, natural born and immigrant go out into the fading sunlight and watch and wonder. See how the light changes? See how the shadows shift their shape? See that funny cardboard contraption the astronomy students are wearing on their heads?
See how everyone, regardless of background, came outside and shared an experience?
Astronomers have our solar system down pat. They know where the sun and moon and Earth will be in relation to each other from now until Rapture. Barring an unexpected astroid, the future is predictable, thanks to models and observation.
We Americans think we know better. Sure, we show up at an appointed time expecting a celestial show. But when it does happen, we don’t think that makes the scientific method any more reliable. We question and we “fake news” everything, still, even when the heavens dance around us, as predicted.
We rarely get the larger message – in plain view there in the sky, in front of our own filtered eyes – just as we rarely think about eclipses a decade down the road.
We don’t have to “believe” in the eclipse; it happens with or without us. We don’t get that message, either.