The Atlantic

America in the Shadows

The nation’s dogged attempts to chase eclipses follow its own haphazard maturation.
Source: Alexey Rotanov / Vladimir Wrangel / Shutterstock / Zak Bickel / The Atlantic

The forecast started darkening over the weekend. By almost all accounts, the weather on Monday should have been fine throughout the country; nationwide, late August is usually clear midday, though the odds of clouds increase as you move farther east and later into the afternoon. But after weeks of optimistic outlook, thunderstorms loomed.

“It does not look as good for eclipse viewing,” a meteorologist in the National Weather Service office in eastern Missouri wrote Saturday afternoon. Soon, things also did not look good in western Missouri, or in much of Nebraska, or in parts of Tennessee and South Carolina. For millions of people on the path of this “Great American Eclipse,” August 21 could turn out to be a great American bummer.

It would not be the first time.

Since the dawn of the republic, American scientists, artists, and curiosity-seekers have chased immersion in the moon’s shadow, and have been beset by misfortune. Monday’s eclipse is the first one exclusive to what is now the U.S. landmass since two years after independence, but several eclipses have swept through a few states in the generations that followed.

To witness them, Americans have trudged behind enemy lines, up mountains, into oppressive heat, and

Estás leyendo una vista previa, regístrate para leer más.

Más de The Atlantic

The Atlantic4 min. leídosPolitics
Sudan and the Instagram Tragedy Hustle
The Sudan Meal Project and similar accounts claim to be helping—but they’re really just a ploy to get more followers.
The Atlantic9 min. leídosPolitics
Debunking the Court’s Latest Death-Penalty Obsession
The conservative majority complains that capital-defense lawyers are making up claims at the last minute. It’s wrong.
The Atlantic3 min. leídosPolitics
The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Kirsten’s Best-Laid Plans
The New York Senator and 2020 candidate isn’t where she thought she’d be at this point in the campaign. Plus: The Supreme Court weighs in on racial gerrymandering.