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Viewing the Eclipse from Salem, Oregon

eclipse

We had the opportunity to drive down to Salem, Oregon, to observe the eclipse with the Jewish community there, camping in a synagogue backyard. There were people visiting from as far away as Mexico, New York, and California. The rabbi’s wife took the best photo of the morning that I saw, with an iPhone, using two pairs of eclipse glasses as her filter.

eclipse

The prayers from the morning included Psalm 148, which instructs the cosmos, “Praise Him, sun and moon; praise, all shining stars.” That seemed to be about what happened as the sun and moon together put on a fine show, and the stars emerged at 10:17 am, or at least some did.

When it got dark, the birds came out and flew crazily. “But,” my wife observed, having read the famous Annie Dillard essay, “nobody screamed or lost their minds.” Afterward a kosher vintner from Berkeley, whose first and last names are the same as my brother, talked with us about synchronicity, and a visitor from Los Angeles explained the veiled mention of eclipses in Genesis 1 and the numerological significance of the state of Oregon, in particular Salem and Crater Lake

It was the drive back northward that put a somewhat less ecstatic spin on the day, hours and hours of sitting dead still in the car in 92 degree heat as Google Maps, to avoid the Interstate, led me and what seemed like millions of other eclipse tourists along scenic one-lane byways of Oregon farm country.

I found that my eyes felt strained, and worried about rumors of counterfeit eclipse-safe glasses. Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon, after a stop, I happened to put a case with a pair of regular eyeglasses, brand new from Costco, and a book on the roof of my car and drove away, losing both.