Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

I’ve caught it. My coworkers have caught it. The kids at school have caught it. My own kids have caught it, too. Have you caught it?

No, no, I don’t mean the latest version of the pandemic. I am talking about Path of Totality Fever.

By now, you’ve probably at least heard about it, right? A full solar eclipse is going to happen on April 8 of this year, and starting at about 3:30 in the afternoon, Maine (well, OK, parts of Maine, Caribou especially) is lined up to get the full effect.

This is a big deal. Even if you are not a full-on science geek or astronomy junkie, a total solar eclipse is just really, really impressive. It touches something way beyond just the science facts. It touches something deep and primal in all of us. Even if you know exactly what it is and what will happen next, it is awesome. In the most literal sense of the word. It inspires awe.

A total eclipse of the – darn it, now I am going to have that stupid song stuck in my head for the rest of the day – a total solar eclipse (better) is actually not that rare. Which makes sense if you think about it. Orbits operate in a way that such an alignment is bound to happen. And they do, every one to three years, according to NASA. The thing is, usually you have to be standing at one of the earth’s poles, or in the middle of the ocean, to see them.

Total solar eclipses are visible to those of us in the northern hemisphere much less often, the most recent having occurred in 2017, and they happen in the exact same location even more rarely still – that being about once every 330 years.


According to NASA, there will be several distinct stages of the eclipse: the partial eclipse, the shadow bands, “Baily’s beads,” “Diamond ring” and totality. I was about to go into great detail on these, because I just absolutely love this conversation, but in truth, just go to NASA’s eclipse website,, or search for “solar eclipse 2024” and click the top NASA link.

There is so much information there to play around with (expect the temperature to drop by 10 degrees and ants to behave oddly). They have maps, diagrams and photographic images, too.  It is worth it. Seriously.

If you, like me, still want more, I suggest a trip over to the Atlas Obscura website for a whole smorgasbord of eclipse information. Everything from eclipse road trips, viewing party ideas, science sidebars, suggestions on how to get the best view possible and ancient eclipse beliefs and myths from cultures across the globe, as well as stories told by contemporary authors and artists as well.

Now, obviously, I should pause here to remind us all – never, ever look at the sun directly. Honest. If you want to watch the eclipse, you are going to need to either view it online or through special glasses. No, not sunglasses – eclipse glasses. Legit, rated ones. Anything else could result in permanent damage. You can find lists of approved vendors at Many schools and libraries will be handing them out for free (go libraries!) but I didn’t want to chance missing out so I bought a party pack of 10 for $30.

Whether you are planning to go up to Aroostook County or stay put, plan a party or keep to yourself, I hope you carve out the time to really pay attention to the moment. Feel it. Be aware of what emotions surface for you as the sun disappears for a moment.

This is one of those rare events where we are reminded, in a very concrete and tangible, but ultimately nonthreatening way, of how very, very small we are in the universe and how fortunate we are to be a part of it.

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