Eclipse caught attention of just about everybody

I really wasn’t paying a lot of attention to the eclipse Monday — until I realized my 1:30 p.m. interview at village hall about Restaurant Week (insert shameless plug here — see story on Page 17) would end at just about the right time for me to join the Hinsdale Public Library’s viewing party on the front lawn of the Memorial Building.

So I headed outside, picked up an Eclipse Shade (all the actual glasses were gone already) and took a peek at the sun. It was pretty cool to see the glowing orb look like a waning crescent moon.

It took about 15 minutes for the sun to reach its greatest level of obscurity here, which was about 90 percent. The total eclipse was visible over 128 miles in southern and southeastern Illinois, with the path of totality stretching from Mazatlán, Mexico, to Newfoundland, Canada.

With about 12 minutes left to go, Robb McGinnis, the village’s community development directory, seemed to grow a little impatient. He said he thought we had seen all there was to see. But he waited the 12 until the designated peak time of 2:07 p.m. and was glad he did.

“I’m the first to admit it, Pam,” Robb said. “I’m no meteorologist.”

Assistant village manager Andrianna Peterson shared photos her son, Ian, messaged her from the spot near Bloomington, Ind., where he was watching the eclipse in totality.

“He said it’s dark like a full moon,” she said.

We didn’t see the sky fully darken, but the light certainly changed — as it does before a storm.

Village manager Kathleen Gargano wondered if the astronomical event would have any bearing on the NCAA men’s championship game that night.

“Maybe the solar eclipse means Purdue is going to beat UConn,” Gargano said. (Like McGinnis, she was wrong.)

Peterson lamented the fact that no one thought to have the Memorial Building carillon play “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at 2 p.m.

Hinsdale’s Janie Petkus was on hand to view the eclipse and said she enjoyed watching it with other residents on such a gorgeous day. She watched the 2017 eclipse in Portland, Ore., where it reached totality.

“It got much darker than it did today,” she shared.

Ed Spacapan of Hinsdale brought a box he had converted into a pinhole camera to watch the eclipse and gave a couple of kids in attendance the chance to look through it. He remembers watching eclipses while attending law school at Northwestern in 1978 and as a kid in elementary school in Rolling Meadows in 1964.

“It’s kind of an event that marks time and has you reflecting on different decades,” he said.

The eclipse certainly offered plenty of fodder for social media, with different sites offering eclipse playlists, photos of Krispy Kreme eclipse doughnuts and a look at viewing glasses made from the cardboard packaging of Eclipse gum (not NASA-certified).

One snarky post made me laugh.

“While we’re at it, don’t look directly at me today, either,” it read.

Some took the opportunity to lament all the hype over the eclipse. I think New York Times writer Melissa Kirsch correctly captured the reason the eclipse was such a big event in a piece she wrote two days before it occurred.

“Most of our communal enthusiasms these days are human-made: the Oscars, the Super Bowl, the election, the new Beyoncé album. A total solar eclipse is a product of the natural world. It happens without elaborate stagecraft, without any outlay of capital. For this reason alone, it’s a rare occurrence. And there won’t be another in the United States until 2044.”

The 2044 eclipse will be visible in only three U.S. states — North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. Time for another visit to Hinsdale, Mont.?

— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean