I’ve had a fair view of many lunar eclipses in my life, even full lunar eclipses. I recall in November of 2003, when I was in central Ohio camping, and I got to witness a total lunar eclipse out in the open air, no lights to obscure my viewing, the weather clear and not too cold for that time of year. The shadows crept from the corners of the moon and began to swallow it whole; midway through, the tints of red started to overshadow the typical vivid white reflection of the sun. It was a wonderful experience. A few years before that, a total lunar eclipse occurred around Christmas time and I witnessed the red moon at my old home in Lakewood. I stood on my old deck, covered with melting snow, wrapped in layers, and peered at the starry sky with the astronomical wonder happening before my very eyes.

On New Year’s Eve 2009, in Istanbul, I witnessed a partial lunar eclipse. Half the full moon began to inch away, as if slowly nibbled on by some hungry space creature. I noted the movement of the shadow and told my friends Sibel, Jon, and Erkan about what was happening.

My observation of lunar eclipses have been sated. Solar eclipses have not been as prevalent for me; I saw one back in 1994. It just so happened that a partial solar eclipse happened and the track of the actual eclipse traversed over much of the United States, and the area of the strongest eclipse would travel over the Cleveland area. Luck beyond luck. I was in the 4th grade and my teacher at the time, Mrs. Hass, wanted us to experience the phenomenon as well. We created some eclipse-viewing device that involved a piece of paper and something else to focus the sunlight into a smaller space. The moment of eclipse for us was midday, so the sun was quite small to begin with and therefore the reflection of the sun was the size of the eraser-end of a #2 pencil. I still got to see the moon’s shadow traverse over the sun, even if I didn’t catch it near the horizon where the size of the sun would have been magnified and where the eclipse would have been even more astounding. I still had the privilege to view this eclipse.

After hearing from some of my students about how they saw a total solar eclipse a few years previously (in Turkey, this happened in 2006), I knew I needed to see it with my own eyes, a total solar eclipse, well, at least as safely as possible because I guess it can hurt your eyes if you look directly at the sun. For realsies.

To the present we go. Or just about the present. An annual solar eclipse happened yesterday. Dusk took place before the eclipse would have reached Ohio, however. The images I saw online swelled the jealousy in me and made my yearning to see an eclipse even stronger!

Looks like the next one visible, at least in Ohio, will be a partial eclipse on the 20th of October in 2014. The next total solar eclipse in Ohio will be August 21, 2017 (not the greatest eclipse viewing but still view-able). If I wanted perfection in viewing a solar eclipse in Ohio, I’d have to wait till April 8, 2024. Just after my 40th birthday. Yikes.

So, astronomy geeks, unite!


old maelstrom.

I checked out some of the stuff I wrote back in the day. Say five to seven years. A lot of it is … not the best. But not all of it was mere tripe. A few of the articles I wrote at B-W for the Maelstrom weren’t half bad. I actually laughed reading this.  Enjoy the reread, hopefully as much as I did:

An Ignorant American Experience in England

By Staff Writer Kevin Risner

At the present time, I’m quite confused.  But I’m also hungry.  I’m sitting here, late at night feeling a bit overwhelmed at the spectacle around me, but I will not forget that I am also famished.

Let me begin with the overwhelming aspect:  England is crazy.  There are so many things that are different here, completely different than in the United States.  For one, all these silly roads are messed up.  Cars don’t zoom around on the right hand side of the road, but on the left.  And the steering wheels are located in front of where the passenger should be.  This – I tell you – is the epitome of what crazy is.  Ship them all off to psych wards now.

Along with that unexpected alteration – not to mention the buses that have two stories on them (what about all these low underpasses?) – there is the monetary situation to worry about.  It appears that, in the UK, they don’t allow dollars.  Or nickels, or dimes, or pennies, or quarters.  Instead, they use some stupid Monopoly looking bills that they call pounds, or quid.  The audacity!  They even use a different sign for their money:  £.  Because of this, they have a key on all the computer keyboards so that we can type it whenever we choose.


Cool, huh?  But that’s not all.  They decide to pull the old switcheroo once again and swap the @ symbol and the quotation marks.  What a way to welcome all the foreigners into a different culture!  It’s a pain in the ass to send e-mails or write what someone has said.  It figures, British people like to do things the hard way. £££!

Like spelling.  How hard is it not to cut off the @me@ in programme?  Or to spell organize properly?  It’s ridiculous!  And then, instead of saying @zee@, @zed@ is used.  Zed?  Are you kidding me?  £!  Isn’t that some sort of Buddhist type deal – like karma or heaven?  Ridiculous.  They should stick to being British.  Not Buddhist.  It’d be much easier.

There are millions of food items to choose from.  Everything comes in pie form:  chicken, potato, steak, shepherd, £, baby.  Everything you could possibly wish for can be baked into a pie.  I do have to admit, that’s some sweet stuff right there.  I mean, it’s da bomb walking up to the cafeteria and seeing that they are serving baby pie on a Monday.  Nothing beats a piping hot portion of baby pie and some mushy peas for a side dish.

Now this is why I’m so hungry.  Because the cafeteria is not open this late and I’m starving just thinking about the pies and the peas and the baby.  I guess I’ll have to go to a pub now.  They have a lot of pubs here also. £££££££££!  I still have yet to try fish and chips.  There doesn’t seem to be any place here that serves them.  That will be my next mission:  to find fish and chips, even if I have to dive into the sea and catch them with my bare hands.

I think that about sums up my trip. £. Thank you George W. Bush for making my stay here so enjoyable so far.  I mean I now realize how different and crazy all these Brits are.  They’re just like those French people and those Iraqis: all of them have no idea the honor it is to live in a world where you’re so well-known and where everyone has a vivid picture of you when I or somebody else mentions you in conversation!  You are famous! Or infamous. That’s what they keep telling me about you.

But they’re not that smart. They don’t even know how many states we have! And they don’t know about the Electoral College. I tried talking to them about it. I mean, from what I know, it’s a bit smaller than the Electoral University – at least last I checked.

And on that note:  ££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££!


No seriously.  Send me some Cheerios.  I’m starving!