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The rare astronomy post

Last Saturday was the 50th anniversary of a total solar eclipse visible across the eastern United States. My parents, who were seven months away from getting married yet still did not know one another at this point, don’t remember it.

Virginia Beach and Nantucket Island were the most notable locations in the United States to experience totality; a New York Times story the next morning reported more than 60,000 visitors flooded Virginia Beach and Norfolk to experience the eclipse.

One location in the path of totality was not as fortunate.

Over 20,000 converged on Perry, Florida, a speck on the Gulf of Mexico 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Tallahassee. The only other time Perry–and Taylor County–is in the news is if a hurricane approaches Florida’s Big Bend.

If a major hurricane came ashore at Apalachicola, Perry would be in the right-front quadrant, the most dangerous part of the storm. Perry might resemble Pass Christian after Camille and Katrina.

For those who made it to Perry, the view of the eclipse was ruined by heavy cloud cover which blanketed areas from Oklahoma to Georgia and all the way down to Key West.

The morning after the eclipse, The New York Times had another interesting article related to space.

The headline: “Nixon Asks for Start of Grand Tour of Planets in ’77”

President Nixon, who spent the weekend of the eclipse at his Key Biscayne compound with Bebe Rebozo, among others, told the NYT he hoped to explore Mars and other outer planets, as well as launch a nuclear-powered rocket by the end of what he hoped would be his second term in January 1977, or at least by the end of the decade.

The idea for touring the outer planets–Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (it didn’t get downgraded to dwarf planet until 2006)–came to birth because in 1979, Pluto’s orbit would move inside Neptune’s, the best opportunity to explore the nether regions of our solar system.

In March 1970, anything seemed to be possible in regards to space exploration.

Less than eight months had passed since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon, and only four months after that, Apollo 12 sent Alan Bean, Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon–the same Dick Gordon who became General Manager of the Saints in 1972–to the moon.

Little did anyone know what was to come with Apollo 13, which launched five weeks after the eclipse. It was a stark reminder space exploration was mighty risky; one only had to mention Gus Grissom, Ed White (not the former Chief Justice of the United States) and Roger Chaffee to realize just how risky.

Nixon also wished to continue flights to moon with Apollo through 1974. The last Apollo flight was Apollo 17 in December 1972; less than two years after that, Richard Nixon was a private citizen, having resigned in disgrace due to Watergate in August 1974.

Before handing the reigns to Gerald Ford, Nixon laid the groundwork for the Space Shuttle.

The 7 March 1970 eclipse is part of a mystery involving Carly Simon’s signature song, “You’re So Vain”.

The last verse begins: “I hear you went up to Saratoga, and your horse naturally won. Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun…”

“Saratoga” refers to the Saratoga Springs Race Course, a world famous thoroughbred track, in upstate New York.

There was another total solar eclipse on 10 July 1972 which was not visible in the continental United States. It traveled over the Northwest Territories of Canada, then ventured over Quebec City and then out to the Atlantic over Nova Scotia.

The date of the 7 March 1970 eclipse fits because Simon penned “You’re So Vain” in 1971. However, the season does not; Saratoga’s horse racing season doesn’t begin until after Independence Day.

Therefore, the 10 July 1972 eclipse fits in that regard, even if it occured after the song was written. However, “You’re So Vain” was not released until 8 November 1972. Bingo.

If off-track betting was legal in 1970, maybe someone could have placed a bet on a race at Santa Anita or the New Orleans Fair Grounds from Saratoga.

It’s a mystery which may be best left to the imagination, or the clouds in your coffee.

The most recent total solar eclipse was 21 August 2017. Kansas City was in the path of totality, and hotel rooms in the metro area and places as far away as St. Joseph, Topeka and Columbia were totally booked.

I went to Kansas City the Friday and Saturday before the eclipse. Robb was asking me to look for eclipse glasses on Amazon. I had to break it to him they would not arrive in time; that was moot anyway, since all of Amazon’s supply of eclipse glasses were either sold out or defective.

It was the biggest event to hit Kansas City since the Royals won the 2015 World Series, and would be the biggest until Patrick Mahomes took the NFL by storm.

Like Perry in 1970, clouds ruined Kansas City’s view of the 2017 eclipse.

There’s supposed to be another total eclipse visible in the United States 8 April 2024. Locations in the path of totality include Waco; Cape Girardeau; Bloomington, Ind.; Youngstown, Ohio; Buffalo; Rochester, N.Y.

While many were going gaga over a solar eclipse 7 March 1970, the high school which I would attend made history.

Brother Martin of New Orleans defeated Captain Shreve 72-56 in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Class AAA boys basketball state championship game at Alexandria.

The Crusaders outscored the Gators 16-0 in the three-minute overtime. Why overtime periods were only three minutes and not four in those days is a mystery.

Brother Martin, which was in its first year of operation following the merger of St. Aloysius and Cor Jesu high schools, finished 36-0 and was named national champion by one of the many polls which predated the USA Today and MaxPreps rankings.

The Crusaders won state championships in 1971 and ’74. In 1971, Brother Martin defeated Shreveport Woodlawn, led by future Hall of Famer Robert Parish, in the championship. The 1974 Martin team was led by Rick Robey, who helped Kentucky win the 1978 NCAA tournament and was a reserve on the Celtics’ 1980-81 NBA champions.

By time I arrived at Brother Martin, the basketball program was a mess. The Crusaders did not have a winning season in my five years of attendance, bottoming out at 9-23 in 1990-91. Martin has bounced back, winning state championships 2004, ’05 and ’10.

Brother Martin is a heavy underdog in their “Division I select” semifinal Wednesday at Baton Rouge Scotlandville. If the Hornets prevail, they will play the winner of Baton Rouge Catholic at St. Augustine in their home gymnasium Saturday for the “Division I select” state championship.

The LHSAA is seriously messed up. I’ll explore on the blog this week. I promise.

Russell High’s basketball program was still in pretty good shape in 1970, four years after Amos Morris coached his last game. Morris went 301-99 in 17 seasons at RHS, leading the Broncos to four state championships (1952, ’53, ’55, ’63). His name is now on RHS’ gymnasium, and he was inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame in 1983.

The 1969-70 Broncos, coached by future KU athletic director Bob Frederick, reached the Class 3A final, where they lost 52-50 to Colby. Russell won its sixth state championship in 1979, but has not reached a sub-state final since.

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I didn’t vomit yesterday, although I wanted to.

Daylight savings time returned at 01:00 Sunday. Yippee!

DST is a crock of crap. It does not save energy. It WASTES energy because it forces the use of air conditioning later in the evening in the summer.

Arizona has it right. Save for the areas controlled by the Navajo, the Grand Canyon State does not adjust its clocks when most of the nation does.

Kansas used to get along just fine without DST. The Sunflower State did not change its clocks until it was forced to in 1967 after jerkwad LBJ signed the “Uniform Time Act” into law. Staying on standard time year-round was better for Kansas farmers, who were able to get into the field an hour earlier and wrap up an hour earlier compared to states with DST, not having to stay in the fields when most farmers would rather be in bed.

Actually, half of Kansas should be on Mountain time anyway.

Russell, for instance, is at 98.9 degrees longitude. The mean meridian for Central time is 90 degrees, and the mean for Mountain is 105. Last I checked, 98.9 is closer to 105 than 90. Therefore, nothing would be upset too much if the Central/Mountain divide were extended to the US 281 corridor and put Hays, Garden City, Dodge City, Liberal, Great Bend, Colby, Russell and other places on Mountain time.

Prior to 1967, Missouri was split on DST. St. Louis and eastern Missouri observed it, while the Kansas City metro and all areas bordering Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska did not.

Some idiots have proposed year-round DST, which would mean ridiculously late sunrise in the winter, even if the sun were out an hour later. In states where it snows–like Kansas–that would be dangerous, since school children would be forced to go to school in the dark for three months.

Fortunately, there cannot be year-round DST. That is illegal under federal law. A state can exempt itself from DST and remain on standard time year-round, but it cannot go on DST year-round. Thank God.

To those of you getting your jollies because daylight savings time has returned, I feel sorry for you. There’s many more things to be jolly about than a clock changing.

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If you’re bored, I’ve got good news. That’s all for this post.

Can an eclipse be vain? 

An event 45 years ago today contributed to a line in one of the most famous songs of the 1970s, which also is one of the best selling hits of the rock and roll era. 

March 7, 1970 marked the most recent total solar eclipse which was visible over large parts of eastern North America. Totality occurred over Mexico for three minutes, 28 seconds, and parts of Florida for three minutes, 10 seconds. Much of Georgia and the Carolinas experienced totality, as did Atlantic Canada. 

The hooplah over the 1970 eclipse was stunning. I have seen clips on YouTube of a CBS News report on the eclipse. Children across America threw fits that morning, since CBS pre-empted its Saturday cartoons for eclipse coverage featuring Charles Kuralt. 

In late 1972, Carly Simon released her iconic single “You’re So Vain”. Over 42 years later, only Carly and one other person knows the subject of the song. It’s believed to be her ex-husband, James Taylor, although one can’t be 100 percent certain. 

In the third verse of “You’re So Vain” comes the line “Then you flew your LearJet up to Nova Scotai to see the total eclipse of the sun.” When the song was released, it was believed to be the eclipse of July 10, 1972, which was only visible to Atlantic Canada, but in truth, that line refers to the March 7, 1970 eclipse, since Simon wrote the song before the 1972 event. 

However, right before mentioning the eclipse, she mentions “I hear you went up to Saratoga, and your horse naturally won”. That refers to the Saratoga horse racing course in upstate New York. There’s no way there would have been racing in early March. 

If New Orelans residents get the shivers over hearing “You’re So Vain”, it’s with very good reason. That song was #1 on the Billboard charts when embittered ex-Black Panther Mark Essex, an Emporia native, went on his deadly rampage, killing two policemen on New Year’s Eve, and then murdering seven more people the following Sunday at the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge in the city’s Central Business District.  I wonder if New Orleans stations put a moratorium on that song in the immediate aftermath of Essex’s reign of terror. 

Miami Dolphins fans may have much sweeter memories of “You’re So Vain”. It was still atop the charts when the Dolphins completed their 17-0 season by defeating the Redskins in Super Bowl VII. 

I’m not a big fan of “You’re So Vain”. My favorite Simon song, “You Belong To Me”, didn’t come until 1978. 

FYI, Mardi Gras has not fallen on March 7 since 2000. You’ll never believe where I spent part of that Mardi Gras. NO, it was not the French Quarter, nor anywhere in New Orleans..