CLEMSON -- After years of futile attempts to overcome FSU on the field and in recruiting maybe the stars are aligning. At least the Sun, Earth, and Moon are lining up. In what may be the first time in Clemson history there will be a total lunar eclipse during a game. With Clemson’s history of 1 PM starts there have been few chances to match the rare celestial event to a game time, making this alignment an enormous coincidence.
As fans are finishing up their tailgates and heading over to the 90 minutes before Kickoff concert, the Sun will be setting and the Full Moon rising. Sunset on that day is listed as 5:37 PM and the moon will rise six minutes later.
In a Lunar eclipse the Moon (Luna) passes behind the Earth in direct alignment with the Sun. The shadow of the Earth will fall over the Moon in two phases. The Penumbra, or partial shadow, will be already covering some of the Moon as it comes into the sky.
The complete shadow, or umbra, will begin covering the partially shadowed moon around 6:51 PM and will be completely darkened at 8:15 PM. The Moon should be totally dark for about 30 minutes. Once the period of totality ends the shadows will reverse in order as the move away from the moons surface. First the umbra will move away and be followed by the penumbra.
The entire event should be complete by 11:14 PM with the Full Moon shining brightly. At that time, hopefully on a clear night, Clemson fans will have been treated to a rare celestial treat as well as a rare football feat on the field.
Historically, celestial events have caused great consternation and have often been associated with bad news or tragic events. Celestial events including both eclipses and comets were of such note that predictions of both good and bad things were often made. Some civilizations believed there was a monster or dragon eating the Sun during Solar eclipses. Another Solar Eclipse once caused an end to a war when day turned to night and then back to day.
Christopher Columbus used a predicted lunar eclipse to get food from natives that would not provide food to his crew. He told the natives that he would take away their moon if they did not provide food. When the Moon was covered the natives were happy to trade with Columbus. At the conclusion of the deal Columbus brought back their moon.
Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to look at with the naked eye. In fact, the easiest tool to look at a lunar eclipse is a pair of binoculars – something that will be in large supply in Death Valley on the night of November 8.
To experience a solar eclipse at a Clemson game one would need to wait quite a long time. The next total eclipse in Clemson will be on Monday August 21, 2017. It is doubtful there will be a mid day Monday game, but it could make for an interesting preseason practice.
If the Tigers overcome the Seminoles on November 8, it may be as well remembered by Tiger fans as the Puntrooskie and Sunday papers may proclaim “Tigers Eclipse Seminoles”.