The final solar eclipse of the decade happened this past Thursday, an annular solar eclipse.
This “ring of fire” solar eclipse happens when a new moon passes between the sun and the Earth. The moon covers the sun’s center, leaving a ring of light around it.
You have to be in the right place at the right time to see something like that, and in this case the right place was Saudia Arabia or maybe Guam or a city in southern India.
On Thursday afternoon, I was oblivious to this astronomical phenomenon.
I was in central Indiana taking a walk with my father in the cemetery where my mother is buried. There were no rings of fire to be seen. It was an unusually warm day, and we didn’t even need our coats on our walk.
As we do, we stopped at Mom’s grave before we started walking. Every year my aunt Linda makes a beautiful wreath for her — for the gravesite — and this year of course was no exception. It looked different to me, somehow, than in years’ past. I touched the ribbon gingerly and searched for the words that I never seemed to find whenever I stood at my mother’s grave with my father.
This time, he had them for me.
“Can you believe it’s been 17 years?”
“No, I can’t,” I said, and we started walking. “Half of my life.”
It’s not that these eclipses are so rare, exactly, but it all goes back to being in the right place at the right time. The next “ring of fire” eclipse will be on June 21, 2020, and I most definitely will not see that one, either, unless something wild occurs and I’m in Ethiopia or Pakistan or perhaps China.
But maybe, like with this last one, I’ll still be in the right place, at the right time.