It’s a known scientific fact that I love science. Marie Curie is a goddess to me. It is miraculous that I have any curiosity at all. I was raised floridly Catholic. If you had a question, God was the answer. Q: Why is the sky blue? A: God.
So you can just stop blaming that curiosity-killing cat.
Besides the biological sciences, I love astronomy. Maria Mitchell, the first American woman to become a professional astronomer, is a rock star to me. I studied the less mathematical branch of astronomy called, “Hey honey, I’m out here just looking at the stars.”
My hitchhiker’s guide through the constellations was the children’s book illustrator H.A. Rey’s “The Stars: A New Way to See Them.” He redrew constellation diagrams so that you could actually recognize the Twins of Gemini walking and holding hands. You might also recognize the name H.A. Rey for his “Curious George” series, which was about an adorably curious monkey, not about Incurious George and his pet goat.
I never studied astrology. My dear Catholic mother, unlike my dear Hindu mother-in-law, thought astrology was “the devil’s art,” so would never tell me the actual time of my birth. Consequently any reading of my chart is based on imprecise information. The fakery generally induces complete amnesia in me. I can never remember what was said at a session; have never successfully taped a session and a note-taking friend, allowed to accompany me once, fell soundly asleep before the sun even rose in my first house.
My astrological agnosticism has also skepticized other solar and lunar alignment events.
In August 1987, the exceptional alignment of the Sun, moon, Mars and Venus with eight planets in our solar system was called “The Harmonic Convergence.” The big Converge was supposed to be a shift that would cause a five-year period of energy cleansing. Not so much. Instead it was the tail end of the Reign of Reagan and a raging AIDS epidemic.
For 2000, experts predicted that the Y2K Millennium bug would cause network crashes, global dysfunction, power failures, data transmission interruption and other end-time internet catastrophes. Jan. 1, 2000 did bring some monster hangovers but the apocalypse foretold seems to have only now arrived in Y2K17.
The next big look-up event is more solar than stellar – the total solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. You might not have heard much about the “The Great American Eclipse.” Don’t feel bad. It has gotten less press than the buildups to The Convergence or The Y2K. Our current prehistoric parallel political universe, with its Orange cis-narcissist Sun King and all the human sacrifices he demands, has totally eclipsed actual solar events.
And this eclipse with its fabulous sounding “Path of Totality” is, if you’ll pardon the expression, huge. The last solar eclipse in America in 1991 was seen only for a brief moment in Hawaii.
This 2017 eclipse will make landfall in Oregon and then will throw some total shade through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, finally through South Carolina and then on out to sea. Even though the eclipse will pass through the blue states of Oregon and Illinois, the actual districts it will unenlighten are red, as is the rest of the path. Towns along the route are expecting thousands of revelers to celebrate at Solarfests, Moonstocks, and Eclipse Experience weekends.
Despite my avowed agnosticism, I find myself squinting at eclipse path maps, and reading them as if they are necromantic charts sure to yield some clue to our own path forward. Sometimes I read as if it were an X-ray negative and the ecliptic path is searing a path of enlightenment diagonally across a darkened country.
Provincetown is north of the eclipse path and will have only a penumbral eclipse experience. Some will think the dimming is a hangover from the Gods and Goddesses themed Carnival Week a few days before. At my Path of Totality party, I will be glowing in my Marie Curie goddess dress.
Kate Clinton is a longtime humorist who writes regularly for the Blade.