FLORENCE — Mel Blake was a middle school student the last time he was in the path of a total solar eclipse.
At that time, many — his teachers included — gave into the idea that it was unsafe to be outdoors during the eclipse. So Blake, already a self-proclaimed astronomy buff, was stuck inside with windows covered when the moon passed between the sun.
Fast forward 35 years and Blake finds himself counting down the days until Aug. 21 when he will again be in the path of a total solar eclipse.
The student who tried to tell his middle school teachers how to safely watch the eclipse is now a physics professor at the University of North Alabama, and director of the university’s planetarium.
There’s no way he’s missing this eclipse, he said.
The Aug. 21 eclipse will travel southeast across the country. The corona — the scientific term for the path in which the sun will be completely covered by the moon — will follow a line from Lincoln Beach, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina, according to NASA, but everyone in North America will have a view of at least a partial solar eclipse.
For that reason, this astronomical occurance has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse, or the Eclipse Across America.
“A lot of people are excited by this,” Blake said. “I’m certainly excited by this. It is the event of the century as far as astronomy in North America is concerned really.
“The Venus transit a few years ago was pretty impressive, if you knew what you were watching and how rare it was, but eclipses tend to be something where you can see what’s…
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