I remember the last major solar eclipse that passed through my home state: May 10, 1994. I was 11 years old and all the kids in my class were out in front of my elementary school looking through a solar telescope, amazed as the moon slowly blocked out the sun’s rays.
I remember that day because the solar telescope belonged to my Dad, an avid astronomer, who came to my school to share his enthusiastic love of science with a bunch of kids. That was who he was: just a big nerd with a big heart who wanted to pass along his love of science to the next generation.
Tomorrow marks another huge event in solar history: A Total Solar Eclipse visible from everywhere in the Continental United States. My Dad had been talking about it for more than a year before he passed away. He had reservations in Wyoming along the path of totality, he purchased solar glasses a year ago, and was actively trying to convince me to take my kids out of school on their second day of class to join him. I wish I would have had the chance to make that trip with him.
It’s a bittersweet day for me as I anticipate the Solar Eclipse, wishing I could share in the excitement with my favorite amateur astronomer.
After my Dad died, we donated his biggest and best telescope to the Museum of Nature and Science. We were told it would be used to view the solar eclipse on Monday, which is something I know my Dad would have loved. We also bought about 100 pairs of solar glasses to hand out at his memorial service, along with a reminder to look up at the sky on August 21 and remember my Dad.
It’s a good reminder for all of us, actually: Sometimes we need to stop what we are doing, put our busy schedules on hold, and look up at the sky. It’s important that we take the time to notice the incredible world around us, to marvel at the vastness of our universe, and to be grateful for the time we have on this beautiful planet.
Tomorrow, when you look up at the sky (using proper eye protection, of course!), take a minute to be thankful for the people you have in your life. Take a minute to be still and stand in awe at our amazing universe. And if you think of him, please take a minute to remember my Dad. I know I will be missing him more than usual tomorrow, but as I look up at the sky, I’ll remember him looking through that telescope, his smile wide, ecstatic about the cosmos above. Oh, how lucky I am to have had a Dad like him.