We cannot believe that summer is almost over, and already 2015 calendars are appearing.
     Every season has its beauty; in the bright of day we see this in the changing foliage and weather. At night, as the Earth races around the Sun, we are taken to view new regions of the heavens, constantly facing an advancing different direction at any one time of night. That means different constellations become prominent and select stars we want to see rise earlier and earlier each night.
       The arrival of late summer also means the venerable Farmers’ Almanac and its competitors are on the newsstands. While we might not take too much stock in the weather reports a year in advance, we can be assured of the listings contained of upcoming eclipses of the Sun and Moon.
       The regularity of the Moon’s orbit has been well known for thousands of years, allowing scientists even before the age of the telescope to predict eclipses accurately. Because the Moon’s orbit is tilted in respect to our view of the Sun and is not truly circular, more often the Moon misses either the Sun or the earth’s shadow, and there is no eclipse at all. Eclipses occur in regular cycles when the line-up happens just right.
   The Almanac tells us that in 2015 there will be two solar eclipses and two lunar eclipses.
Neither solar eclipse will be seen from North America. Those of us in the United States have a chance to see two total lunar eclipses, although only the  last one is well seen from eastern U.S.
   The eclipses include: March 20, total solar eclipse; April 4, total lunar eclipse; September 13, partial eclipse of the sun and September 27-28, total lunar eclipse.
    Lunar eclipses are fascinating; the bright Moon gradually darkens and becomes a varying shade of red, as the stars come out normally hidden by the moonlight. If weather cooperates, we can expect to see a lunar eclipse every few years, as they are visible over a very wide area.
     Solar eclipses, however, are much more rare, as seen from any one place. The next total solar eclipse crossing the United States is on August 21, 2017. The Sun will be blocked out completely as seen only from a narrow path extending from the northwestern U.S. to the southeastern U.S.; from Pennsylvania it will be a partial eclipse.
    There has not been a total solar eclipse in Wayne County, Pa., since January 1924. Does anyone remember it? The writer’s mother, who was Elsa W. Garratt, recalled it well; she was 9 and living on Church Street in Honesdale. She said that the already cold winter day turned frigid as the rising Sun was blocked out. The temperature went well below zero. The sky darkened, and she could see stars in the daytime! She could hear a rooster crow (you likely would not hear a rooster today from Church Street). Her mother snapped a picture using a Brownie camera. Some people in the area were terrified, thinking the end of the world had come.
     Whether there is an eclipse or not, it is imperative that one NEVER looks at the Sun with a telescope or binoculars, even for a second, without approved solar filters properly attached. Without protection, the focused sunlight would burn your eye. Better yet, the indirect means of seeing the Sun by projecting the view onto a cardboard screen, is completely safe and allows several people to see at one time. Special solar projection devices are available, such as the commercially available Sunspotter, which was invented by the late Daniel R. Janosik (1944-1995), who lived near Hawley and made them from his home.
     First quarter Moon is on September 2.
    Share your eclipse experiences: news@neagle.com.
     Keep looking up!