Vicksburg readies for solar event

Published 6:00 am Sunday, August 20, 2017

Before man understood the science behind a solar eclipse, many feared the astronomical phenomenon.

Without the sun there would be no life and many ancient people were afraid that the world was coming to an end or a great evil was about to occur.

According to Almanac.com, these early ancestors had myths and folklores about the solar eclipse, some of which involved a beast fighting with the sun or a sun god becoming angry, sad or sick.

Without knowledge, it would make sense why these people had their beliefs. For them, how else could they explain an air temperature drop or their world becoming totally dark?

In an effort to stave off destruction, some of these practices would include shooting flaming arrows into the sky.

The Chippewa people who were indigenous to North America thought this would rekindle the sun. Tribes in Peru also shot flaming arrows into the sky, but they did it hoping to scare off a beast that was attacking the sun.

Shouting to the heavens with promises to work harder and mend their ways was how the Native people in Colombia reacted to a solar eclipse.

Thankfully, we now know that nothing tragic will occur during a solar eclipse, it is just the moon moving in its orbit between the earth and the sun.

Solar eclipses happen between two and five times a year, but on average it takes about 375 years for a total solar eclipse to happen again at the same location, according to timeanddate.com.

Vicksburg resident Karen Faulk Williams remembers the last solar eclipse she witnessed, which occurred in 1979.

“I was working at the store (Faulk’s Farm & Garden, which used to be located on Clay Street) and it was mid-day or early afternoon. We did not have access to the solar glasses back then and we had been warned not to look at the sun,” Williams said. “I never looked at the sun, I just looked at the effects it was having on the earth. Everything just got a strange color. Everything was green, but it got darker and greener.”

On Monday, Vicksburg residents will once again have the opportunity to witness a solar eclipse; however it will not be in the path of totality, meaning the moon will not completely shadow the sun. There will be only 82 percent coverage.

Local resident and photographer David Rorick recalled witnessing a solar eclipse when he was a kid.

“I remember putting on two pair of sunglasses to watch,” Rorick said. “That was before NASA put out safety glasses.”

Rorick did not recommend that anyone do the same, and for this solar eclipse he is planning to wear adequate protection.

For those interested in capturing a shot of the eclipse, Rorick recommended using an 8X neutral density solar filter, because there is the possibility of damaging the camera if a filter is not used.

“If the shutter stays open too long you can do damage to the lens,” he said. 

For those who are interested in viewing the eclipse, but do not have access to NASA approved safety glasses, wral.com suggests alternative options, which include making a pin hole viewer or catching a live stream broadcast.

The Vicksburg Military Park is hosting an event beginning at 1 p.m. Monday. The event will include excerpts from Civil War soldiers’ diaries and various phenomena that occurred in the skies during the war. The park will have a limited number of certified solar glasses available for viewing. 

In Vicksburg, the eclipse can be seen starting at 11:53 a.m. It will reach its peak at 1:24 p.m. and end at 2:52.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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