Monday, August 21, 2017

225th Anniversary of the U.S. Mint

With all the excitement of the eclipse, I almost forgot another major milestone to celebrate, the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Mint!  If you have a chance to visit the U.S. Mint, they provide a fabulous tour in Philadelphia (the first mint) and in Denver.  Of course, Fort Knox is not really open to the public. For all you coin lovers, the Mint will "issue 24-karat gold coins and corresponding .999 fine silver medals depicting a contemporary design of Lady Liberty and an eagle" and you can receive newsletters about when they are available or go to their web site ( for more information.  Take a few minutes and enjoy this anniversary!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Unusual behaviors during an eclipse? We are not the only ones.

It seems that everywhere I turn, people are talking about the total eclipse of the sun - their plans to travel to Oregon or Wyoming to view the eclipse or travel elsewhere just to see it.  Is it because it is such an unusual phenomenon?  I have seen a total eclipse when I was a kid and it was okay. I was not mesmerized like my brother, who is now an astrophysicist or frighted like a friend of mine who happens now to be in the clergy.  To me, it was nature being nature.  I do not get all the fuss of going to spend all this money on something that is supposed to happen.  However, I do recognize the immense power of natural phenomena, especially how total eclipses tend to throw people into fits of crazy behavior.  People are discussing how their lives are out of sync because of the eclipse.  I certainly cannot discount it.  When nature is out of whack, we certainly can feel it, especially those of who are more grounded to the earth than others.  The media are starting to run stories about myths and superstitions around solar eclipses as August 21st approaches.  For example take a look at the PBS News Hour ( report on how life responds as animals and insects change their behavior.  National Geographic ( also posted a very interesting story in animal reactions to the solar eclipse.  Do these help understand our reactions?  A really good article is Bob Berman's article in Wired (

If you look at NASA's history of eclipses site, you will see what I mean.  For example, the most famous solar eclipse  ( was in 1133 CE when Henry II died coinciding with a complete solar eclipse.  As a result of his death, England was thrown into civil war. 

NASA also has wonderful eclipse history site  for beginners who are just learning about these events and explain the difference between partial and total eclipses. (  Sorry, they do not apply to a total eclipse of your heart all you Bonnie Tyler lovers.

So get out your GPO eclipse kit and get ready.  The next one is scheduled for 2024.