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10 Not-So-Famous People We Lost in 2011

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It has been a solemn year for famous deaths, with tributes to those who achieved several decades of greatness (Dame Elizabeth Taylor), those who died before their time (Amy Winehouse), and even some who belong in both categories (Steve Jobs). Then there were those influential, inspiring, or simply fascinating people who were not nearly as famous, but should be saluted nonetheless for their great feats — from the founder of the Internet (no, really) to the mystery woman on one of the most famous album covers of the sixties.

1. Robert Ettinger: The Immortal Man

Presumably unlike everyone else on this list, Robert Ettinger might yet return. A physics teacher and science fiction writer, he believed that death is only for the unprepared. The father of the cryonics movement, his frozen, 92-year-old body is now stored in a vat of liquid nitrogen at a building outside Detroit, waiting for medical technology to restore him to good health. In 1962, Ettinger described the practical and moral aspects of deep-freezing the dead in the founding document of cryonics, The Prospect of Immortality. Later he founded the Cryonics Institute, which offers discount rates (starting at $28,000) for those who want to be preserved – one-fifth the price of his nearest competitor. It now houses 106 people and dozens of pets. Among the other bodies are Ettinger’s mother and his two wives. “If both of my wives are revived,” he admitted last year, “that will be a high class problem.”

2. Joanne Siegel: A Superman’s Best Girlfriend

Joanne Kovacs was the model for perhaps the most influential character in the history of superhero comics. We’re not talking Superman, of course, but his girlfriend, Lois Lane. Boys could be inspired by Superman’s physique and his sense of morality, but they could never expect to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Girls, however, could be (and were) inspired by Lois’s spirit, courage, and professional ambition in a world before Women’s Liberation. Kovacs, a Cleveland teenager who took up modelling to earn extra pocket money, was used as the model for Lois by two young artists, Joe Shuster and Larry Jerry Siegel. They quickly befriended Kovacs, who would also be the model for Lois’s feisty personality. Siegel married her in 1948, while Lois in the comics still wasn’t giving Clark Kent the time of day.

This year also saw the death of Stetson Kennedy, the social crusader who worked with Superman in his greatest victory: defeating the Ku Klux Klan.

3. John Cashin, Jr: Civil Rights Candidate

The death in March of Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice-presidential nominee from a major party (she was Democrat Walter Mondale’s running mate in 1984), rightly won much coverage in March. That same week, fewer people noticed the passing of John L Cashin, Jr, another groundbreaker who tried – and failed – to win major public office. In 1970, Cashin, a dentist and civil rights leader, was the first African-American to run for governor of Alabama. He lost in a landslide to George C. Wallace, renowned for his tough anti-civil rights views. Though he won only 15 percent of the vote, Cashin’s political and legal work inspired many other African-Americans to run for higher office. Moreover, his efforts to forge an independent, non-segregationist Democratic party proved fruitful. Alabama, with a smaller black population than some of its neighboring states, soon had Dixie’s highest number of local African-American officials.

4. Paul Baran: Founding Father of the Internet

If there were a Mount Rushmore of Internet pioneers, Paul Baran would have to be on it. In the 1960s, the Polish-born scientist devised a technology known as packet-switching, which packaged data into discrete bundles called “message blocks.” His idea was to build the Arpanet, a distributed communications network, safe from attack or disruption in the event of nuclear exchange. He was so far ahead of his time that AT&T turned him down, insisting that the Arpanet was unworkable. The US military thought otherwise, however, using it as the forerunner of the Internet. Baran was too modest to claim credit for the Internet, which he compared to a cathedral:

“Over the course of several hundred years, new people come along and each lays down a block on top of the old foundations… Then comes along an historian who asks, ‘Well, who built the cathedral?’ Peter added some stones here, and Paul added a few more. If you are not careful, you can con yourself into believing that you did the most important part. But the reality is that each contribution has to follow on to previous work. Everything is tied to everything else.”

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5. Suzie Rotolo: The Girl on Dylan’s Arm

Though it’s not as critically acclaimed as Blonde on Blonde, Highway 61 Revisited or many other Bob Dylan albums, it’s probably his most famous album cover: Dylan walking in Greenwich Village with a girlfriend. While The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963) had such reflective songs as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” the cover was a portrait of young love, with Dylan smiling downwards and his pretty girl, Suzie Rotolo, grinning brightly at the camera. Of course, it didn’t last, and she later became the muse for some of Dylan’s breakup songs — “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” “One Too Many Mornings," “Ballad of Plain D” — when she decided not to be, as she wrote later, “just this string on his guitar… just this chick.”


She avoided the spotlight, married someone else, and became a book artist. Her own view of that magical time? “All this indulgence of the sixties, ay-yi-yi, get over it. There will always be creative people who feel that they’re different and create a community of some kind. Whether it’s a physical neighborhood or an Internet neighborhood, in Bushwick or in Greenwich Village, it’s not over.”

6. Kate Swift: Gender Linguist

If you like hearing about flight attendants and actors (or both genders), you can probably thank editor Kate Swift. Before her, sexism was an everyday part of the English language. When Swift and Casey Miller were asked to copy-edit a sex education manual for junior high school students in 1970, they noticed a major problem. “We suddenly realized what was keeping his message — his good message — from getting across, and it hit us like a bombshell,” Swift said in 1994. “It was the pronouns. They were overwhelmingly masculine-gendered.” Swift and Miller wrote about this in essays (such as “Desexing the English Language,” which appeared in the first issue of Ms. in 1972) and two books: Words and Women: New Language in New Times and The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing. Though some of their ideas (“genkind” as a replacement for “mankind,” “tey” as a gender-neutral substitute for “he/she”) didn’t catch on, the books subtly changed the language, assuring that it now has a better gender balance.

7. Alan Haberman: Baron of the Barcodes

Though barcode technology was invented back in 1949, it did not become the standard until after Alan Haberman, chief executive of New England’s First National chain of grocery stores, headed a commission of retail executives in 1973. These execs discussed ways to make the retail experience easier, including the famously long check-out queues. After two years of meetings, the committee settled on the vertical bar format: the Universal Product Code (UPC) that appears on almost any product you buy. The first barcoded product was rung up by an optical scanner in 1974. Now, more than 10 billion bar codes are scanned worldwide each day.

8. Sybil Jason: South Africa’s own Shirley Temple

A few years ago, I wrote an article on movie star fan clubs and noted that, 70 years after her peak, Sybil Jason still had fans. I received a disappointed reply from Jason herself, not willing to be dismissed as a faded star. (We kept in touch after that, via email.) Not just a cute face, the South Africa-born Jason was a child prodigy who, at age five, could sing, dance, play piano and do uncanny celebrity impersonations. In the 1930s, she was signed by Warner Bros as their answer to 20th Century Fox’s biggest – and cutest – star, Shirley Temple. However, despite her flair for impersonations, her South African accent made her difficult to understand. She was later signed with 20th Century Fox as one of Shirley Temple’s co-stars. Jason returned to South Africa during World War II, but the two child stars remained friends for decades, well after their film careers were over. Though her films were mostly forgotten, Jason’s fan club was still active last year.

9. Del Connell: Unknown Comic Book Hero

Some comic book writers get no respect. You have probably heard of Stan Lee and Alan Moore, and if you haven’t heard of many others, at least their names are known (through the credits pages) to many comic book fans. But those who wrote comics in the so-called Golden Age and Silver Age, when comics could reliably sell a million or more copies, usually went uncredited, and didn’t even retain the copyright to their own work. Del Connell started as an artist on Disney animations in 1939, and moved to Dell Comics in 1954, where he churned out literally thousands of comics. He also created numerous characters, including Daisy Duck's nieces (April, May and June) and Supergoof, Goofy's superhero alter ego. His most famous creation, however, was the Space Family Robinson, first seen in the comics in 1962. Two years later, Irwin Allen transferred the characters to television in the popular series Lost in Space, but Connell (as usual) received no credit or royalties. When he finally received a lifetime achievement award this year at the San Diego Comic-Con, only a few people – those who knew his name – knew that the award was long overdue.

10. Vann Nath: Survivor (and Chronicler) of the Killing Fields

Vann Nath was one of only a handful of people to survive the Khmer Rouge’s Tuol Seng torture camp, in which 14,000 died. A gifted artist, he recorded his year in Phnom Penh’s notorious Killing Fields in a series of dark and disturbing paintings (now hung from the walls in a genocide museum). Ironically, his artistic talent – depicting the horror of the regime – allowed him to be spared so that he could produce portraits of the notorious leader, Pol Pot. Last year, giving evidence before the UN war crimes tribunal, Nath added tearful words to his artistic depictions. “We were so hungry, we would eat insects that dropped from the ceiling,” he recalled. “We would quickly grab and eat them so we could avoid being seen by the guards. My suffering cannot be erased – the memories keep haunting me.” The torture had long-term effects on his health and frailty, possibly hastening his death at 66.

Bonus: Nicholas Courtney and Elisabeth Sladen: Cult Figures

Though they have some degree of fame (at least compared to others on this list), I can’t resist adding some actors I enjoyed watching during my childhood. Fans of the classic Doctor Who series were in mourning in the early months of the 2011, which saw the passing of two English actors who — apart from those who played the Doctor himself — were perhaps the most important faces of the series.

Nicholas Courtney was the Brigadier, the Doctor’s longest-serving ally, a terribly British military officer who aided the hero against any number of alien threats. In this role (and a few others), Courtney appeared in the series over a period of 24 years.

In the 1970s, Elisabeth Sladen played Sarah Jane Smith, easily the Doctor’s most popular companion (back when the word “companion” seemed entirely innocent), a spirited journalist. She was so popular that, more than 30 years later, she was finally given her own spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which was still going strong when she died at age 65.

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This Week's Best Amazon Deals You Can Still Get
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As a recurring feature, our team combs the Web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, August 20.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

GADGETS, TOYS, AND MEDIA

Crosley CR7007A-MA Patriarch Turntable with Radio, CD Player and Aux-In (Mahogany) for $103.00 (list price $169.95)

TaoTronics Bluetooth Headphones, Sweatproof Wireless In Ear Earbuds, Sports Magnetic Earphones with Built in Mic (IPX5 Splash Proof Rating, aptX Stereo, Up to 7 Hours of Talk Time, Ceramic Antenna) for $25.99 (list price $69.99)

New Matter MOD-t Desktop 3D Printer | Built-In WiFi, Easy to Use, Safe and Quiet for $269.10 (list price $399.00)

Parrot Zik 2.0 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones (Yellow) for $124.95 (list price $124.95)

Samsung Gear VR - Virtual Reality Headset (US Version with Warranty) for $34.11 (list price $49.99)

JS Portable Mini Wireless Bluetooth Nut Speaker with Sling for iPhone iPad Android and More for $11.88 (list price $25.99)

[The Smallest] Jackery Mini 3350mAh Portable Charger - External Battery Pack, Premium Aluminum Power Bank, Portable iPhone Charger for iPhone 7, 6s, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S6 (Black) for $11.99 (list price $29.99)

Quirky PCORP-GY01 Cordies Pop Wire and Cable Organizer, Grey for $10.00 (list price $14.95)

Satechi Aluminum USB Headphone Stand Holder with Three USB 3.0 Ports and 3.5mm AUX port - Suitable For All Headphone Sizes (Gold) for $34.99 (list price $39.99)

Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom, Built-in Wi-Fi and 3 inch LCD touch panel (Silver) for $399.00 (list price $529.00)

Invoxia Smart Portable Speaker with Amazon Alexa, Green for $199.00 (list price $199.00)

Withings Activité Pop - Activity and Sleep Tracking Watch for $99.99 (list price $179.99)

KITCHEN

The Keyboard Waffle Iron for $54.75 (list price $69.99)

Curva Artisan Series Double Wall Beverage Glasses and Tumblers - Unique 8 oz Thermo Insulated Drinking Glasses, Set of 4 for $26.31 (list price $26.31)

MatchaDNA Handcrafted Matcha Tea Bowl - White for $16.89 (list price $29.99)

Nordic By Nature Insulated Neoprene Lunchbox Tote Lunch Bag Made For Women, Men and Kids | Includes 12" Big Bottle Cooler | Lightweight | Rugged Lunch Box | Washable | Designer Camo Pattern Bags for $19.99 (list price $27.99)

One White Apple Wooden Spoons Disposable, 6" Length Eco-Friendly Biodegradable Compostable Birchwood (Pack of 100) GO GREEN! for $12.98 (list price $16.98)

Bento Lunch Box by Lifemark Labs - Stylish Leakproof Lunch Kit with 3 Compartments - For Kids & Adults - Easy Portion Control - Container is Dishwasher & Microwave Friendly for $19.97 (list price $34.95)

Bellemain 4 Piece Airtight Acrylic Canister Set , Food Storage Container for $22.95 (list price $39.95)

koziol KASIMIR Hedgehog Cheese Grater, transparent red for $12.95 (list price $14.40)

Joseph Joseph 40085 Nest 9 Nesting Bowls Set with Mixing Bowls Measuring Cups Sieve Colander, 9-Piece, Blue for $40.00 (list price $42.99)

Cafe Du Chateau 34oz French Press, 4 Level Filtration System, 304 Grade Stainless Steel, Heat Resistant Borosilicate Glass for $22.95 (list price $27.95)

Bekith Brushed Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle / Spice Grinder / Molcajete for $13.98 (list price $49.99)

Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine with 13-Hour Delay Timer, CKSTBRTW20 for $43.12 (list price $59.99)

HOME

Vornado VFAN Vintage Air Circulator Fan, Vintage White for $95.00 (list price $119.99)

Saganizer Hamper with Wheels Rolling Cart Heavy Duty Triple Laundry Organizer/Sorter, Chrome/White for $37.99 (list price $49.99)

Bronze Dimmable Accent Table Lamp with 1 Vintage Edison Style Bulb, Plugin, Brooklyn Bulb Co. Hoyt Collection, Inset Switch, ETL Listed for $69.99 (list price $129.00)

T4U 3 Inch Ceramic Cameo Double Layer Howllow Design succulent Plant Pot/Cactus Plant Pot With Saucer Full colors Package 1 Pack of 3 for $19.93 (list price $49.86)

Rexford Mid-Century Walnut Table Lamp Set of 2 for $119.98 (list price $179.99)

Seville Classics 3-Tier Resin Slat Utility Shoe Rack, Espresso for $29.99 (list price $34.40)

Byredo - Burning Rose Candle for $68.24 (list price $95.00)

K&H Manufacturing Mod Dream Pod Gray/Black 22" (unheated) for $38.39 (list price $45.59)

Deco 79 68135 Metal Bookend Pair for $28.40 (list price $57.00)

Mini Ceramic Hanging Succulent Planters Flower Pots for Home Decor - White 2 Pieces HakkaGirl for $9.89 (list price $16.54)

Prevue Pet Products Kitty Power Paws Multi-Platform Posts with Tassel Toys, Natural for $71.95 (list price $82.74)

HERNGEE Deer Head Single Wall Hook / Hanger Animal shaped Coat Hat Hook Heavy Duty, Rustic, Decorative Gift , Grey for $12.98 (list price $14.98)

OFFICE, SCHOOL, AND CRAFTS

Eames Style Aluminum Group Management Office Chair Reproduction Leather White for $345.00 (list price $1,345.00)

Acrylic Desktop, Folder and Makeup Palette Organizer - Mail, Paper/Paperwork Organizer - File Sorter; File Folder Holder - Laptop Rack - by Unum - Black and Clear, 9" x 6.75" x 6.5" for $20.99 (list price $29.99)

Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Mouse for $23.53 (list price $29.95)

Arteza Real Brush Pens - 24-Colors - Watercolor Markers - (Set of 24) for $21.99 (list price $66.99)

KABB Modern Digital Mechanical Retro Flip Dоwn Clock wіth Internal Gear Operated (Black) for $43.99 (list price $89.99)

Block Sketch Desk Tidy, Blue for $29.06 (list price $38.00)

Sharpie Tank Highlighters, Chisel Tip, Assorted Colors, 12-Count for $4.99 (list price $12.96)

Scotch Magic Tape, 3/4 x 1000 Inches, Boxed, 6 Rolls (810K6) for $9.89 (list price $11.45)

Wilson Jones 3 Ring Binder 3 Inch, Round Ring View Binder, Basic, 362 Series, Customizable, White (W362-49W) for $4.89 (list price $7.18)

eBoot 12 Inches Plastic Ruler Straight Ruler Plastic Measuring Tool for Student School Office, Clear, 2 Pack for $6.99 (list price $8.99)

Mead Composition Notebook, College Ruled, 100 Sheets, 5 Pack (72930) for $13.90 (list price $20.30)

Personal Daily Planner Organizer Will Help You to Keep Work-Life Balance & Achieve a Little More Goals - NO DATES Calendar Planner ( 8,5 X 5,7 ) - Diary Notebook for Man and Women 2017 / 2018 / 2019 for $18.99 (list price $29.99)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Conair Oval Shaped Double-Sided Lighted Makeup Mirror, 1x/7x magnification, Polished Chrome Finish for $26.09 (list price $34.99)

Mudder Silicone Cosmetic Containers Cream Jar with Sealed Lids, 3 Pieces (20 ml) for $8.99 (list price $14.99)

Dukes Daily Age-Defying Facial Moisturizer Cream 4oz - Anti-Aging Lotion - Day/Night Face Wash Fuel for Men – All Organic for $19.99 (list price $45.00)

Himalayan Pink Salt Bar Soap Bar with Rose (Everest) (4 Oz)- Handmade Organic with Essential Oils. Natural Moisturizing Body Soap for Skin and Face. With Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Natural Glycerin for $7.99 (list price $9.00)

Umbra Stowit Jewelry Box - Modern Keepsake Storage Organizer with Hidden Compartment Drawers for Ring, Bracelet, Watch, Necklace, Earrings, and Accessories for $42.05 (list price $60.00)

Gentleman Jon Deluxe Wet Shave Kit | Includes 8 Items: Safety Razor, Badger Hair Brush, Shave Stand, Canvas & Leather Dopp Kit, Alum Block, Shave Soap, Stainless Steel Bowl and Astra Razor Blades for $75.00 (list price $95.00)

Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo with Peppermint, Tea Tree and Eucalyptus Botanicals, 16-Ounces for $11.43 (list price $12.00)

Buxton Men's Addison Leather U-Zip Hanging Travel Kit, Cognac for $37.88 (list price $70.00)

Eye Cream Anti Aging Moisturizer - for Dark Circles, Puffiness, Wrinkles and Bags - Best Natural & Organic Ingredients - Use Day & Night - 1.7 OZ for $17.99 (list price $25.99)

Red Clay Honey Mask 9 fl oz for Anti Aging Facial Treatment, Facial Cleanser, Pore Reducer, Anti Aging Mask, Acne Treatment, Blackhead Remover, Cellulite Treatment & Natural Moisturizer for $15.95 (list price $49.99)

Dental Tool Set, ElleSye Dental Hygiene Tool Kit for Home Oral Care, Stainless Steel Tartar Remover Dental Pick Dental Scaler Dental Tweezers Anti-fog Mouth Mirror for Personal and Pet Use for $11.69 (list price $29.99)

OUTDOORS, GARDEN, AND SPORTS

Poler Men's Retro Rolltop Backpack, Black, One Size for $63.71 (list price $74.95)

Everstryke Match Pro Lighter - Waterproof Fire Starter Especially for Survival and Emergency Use for $9.99 (list price $29.95)

JOOLA Midsize Table Tennis Table for $144.98 (list price $219.95)

Streamline Rainbow Color Wheel Umbrella for $23.99 (list price $26.81)

mKitchen World Marshmallow Roasting Sticks | Telescoping Smores Skewers Hot Dog Extending Stainless Steel Fork | Extra Long 3.75 FT-45’’|Set of 5|Fire Pit, Camping, Campfire, Bonfire Kids Accessories for $16.99 (list price $37.64)

Schwinn Discover Women's Hybrid Bike (700C Wheels),White,28" for $249.39 (list price $275.37)

Running Belt – Fanny Pack – iPhone 6 , 7 Plus Pouch for Runners - Best Fitness Gear for Hands Free Workout – Reflective Waist Pack by Sport2People for $14.97 (list price $37.47)

Joovy Bicycoo Balance Bike, Red for $117.87 (list price $129.99)

eBags Crew Cooler II (Blue Yonder) for $34.99 (list price $49.99)

2 Pack Swimming Cap - TURATA Waterproof Unisex Premium Earmuffs Silicone No-Slip Swimming Cap for Adults Kids Woman and Men One Size Hat - Black & Blue for $11.99 (list price $29.99)

SEMOO Water Resistant ,2-3 Person,1 Door,3-Season Lightweight Tent for Camping with Carry Bag for $42.99 (list price $79.98)

Moon Lence Outdoor Ultralight Portable Folding Chairs with Carry Bag Heavy Duty 242lbs Capacity Camping Folding Chairs Beach Chairs for $34.99 (list price $67.99)

TOOLS

Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner for $65.00 (list price $69.99)

True Utility FIXR Multi-Tool (20 Tools in 1) for $4.09 (list price $14.99)

GlowGeek 120 to 3000 Grit Sandpaper Assortment, Dry/Wet, 9 x 3.6 Inch, 42 Pieces,Sand Paper for Automotive Sanding, Wood Furniture Finishing, Wood Turing Finishing for $9.96 (list price $24.99)

First Aid Kit (275 Pieces 40 Unique Items) Family Emergency Disaster Earthquake & Survival. Large Portable Bag Ideal for Home Car Boat Kayak Backpack RV Sports Camping Hiking. Protect Your Loved Ones for $44.95 (list price $69.95)

Dremel 2200-01 Versa Flame Multi-Function Butane Torch for $39.00 (list price $42.99)

Plus Pen Style Compact Twiggy Scissors with Cover, White (34609) for $4.36 (list price $5.99)

Dremel 8220-1/28 12-Volt Max Cordless Rotary Tool for $79.00 (list price $99.00)

Southwire Tools & Equipment POUCH4 Leather Tool Pouch for $15.28 (list price $17.98)

NoCry Safety Glasses with Clear Anti Fog Scratch Resistant Wrap-Around Lenses and No-Slip Grips, UV Protection. Adjustable, Black & Green Frames for $9.39 (list price $10.49)

Signstek 45 in 1 Professional Portable Opening Precision Screwdriver Hand Tools Kit Set with Tweezers & Extension Shaft for Precise Repair Maintenance for $8.00 (list price $19.99)

Bingogous 5.0Ah 20V Max Premium XR Lithium Li-ion Replacement Battery for Dewalt DCB205 Dewalt DCB180,DCB204-2,DCB205-2,DCB200-2,DCB200 Dewalt DCD/DCF/DCG Series Dewalt 20V Battery 2 Pack for $59.99 (list price $99.99)

ORIA 86 in 1 Precision Screwdriver Set, Magnet Repair Tool Kit with Portable Bag for iPhone/ Cell Phone/ iPad/ Tablet/ PC/ MacBook and Other Electronics for $29.99 (list price $89.99)

Hole Saw Sets,16 Pcs Hole Saw Kit 3/4"-5" Inch Metal Circle Cutter Wood Steel Saws with Mandrels and Install Plate for Door Knob Lock for $16.14 (list price $18.99)

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Big Questions
Should You Keep Your Pets Indoors During the Solar Eclipse?
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PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

By now, you probably know what you’ll be doing on August 21, when a total solar eclipse makes its way across the continental United States. You’ve had your safety glasses ready since January (and have confirmed that they’ll actually protect your retinas), you’ve picked out the perfect vantage point in your area for the best view, and you’ve memorized Nikon’s tips for how to take pictures of this rare celestial phenomenon. Still, it feels like you’re forgetting something … and it’s probably the thing that's been right under your nose, and sitting on your lap, the whole time: your pets.

Even if you’ve never witnessed a solar eclipse, you undoubtedly know that you’re never supposed to look directly at the sun during one. But what about your four-legged family members? Shouldn’t Fido be fitted with a pair of eclipse glasses before he heads out for his daily walk? Could Princess Kitty be in danger of having her peepers singed if she’s lounging on her favorite windowsill? While, like humans, looking directly at the sun during a solar eclipse does pose the potential of doing harm to a pet’s eyes, it’s unlikely that the thought would even occur to the little ball of fluff.

“It’s no different than any other day,” Angela Speck, co-chair of the AAS National Solar Eclipse Task Force, explained during a NASA briefing in June. “On a normal day, your pets don’t try to look at the sun and therefore don’t damage their eyes, so on this day they’re not going to do it either. It is not a concern, letting them outside. All that’s happened is we’ve blocked out the sun, it’s not more dangerous. So I think that people who have pets want to think about that. I’m not going to worry about my cat.”

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, a veterinarian, author, and founder of pawcurious, echoed Speck’s statement, but allowed that there’s no such thing as being too cautious. “It’s hard for me to criticize such a well-meaning warning, because there’s really no harm in following the advice to keep pets inside during the eclipse,” Vogelsang told Snopes. “It’s better to be too cautious than not cautious enough. But in the interest of offering a realistic risk assessment, the likelihood of a pet ruining their eyes the same way a human would during an eclipse is much lower—not because the damage would be any less were they to stare at the sun, but because, from a behavior standpoint, dogs and cats just don’t have any interest in doing so. We tend to extrapolate a lot of things from people to pets that just doesn’t bear out, and this is one of them.

“I’ve seen lots of warnings from the astronomy community and the human medical community about the theoretical dangers of pets and eclipses, but I’m not sure if any of them really know animal behavior all that well," Vogelsang continued. "It’s not like there’s a big outcry from the wildlife community to go chase down coyotes and hawks and bears and give them goggles either. While we in the veterinary community absolutely appreciate people being concerned about their pets’ wellbeing, this is a non-issue for us.”

The bigger issue, according to several experts, would be with pets who are already sensitive to Mother Nature. "If you have the sort of pet that's normally sensitive to shifts in the weather, they might be disturbed by just the whole vibe because the temperature will drop and the sky will get dark,” Melanie Monteiro, a pet safety expert and author of The Safe-Dog Handbook: A Complete Guide to Protecting Your Pooch, Indoors and Out, told TODAY.

“If [your pets] have learned some association with it getting darker, they will show that behavior or at a minimum they get confused because the timeframe does not correspond,” Dr. Carlo Siracusa of Penn Vet Hospital told CBS Philly. “You might put the blinds down, but not exactly when the dark is coming but when it is still light.” 

While Monteiro again reasserts that, "Dogs and cats don't normally look up into the sun, so you don't need to get any special eye protection for your pets,” she says that it’s never a bad idea to take some extra precautions. So if you’re headed out to an eclipse viewing party, why not do your pets a favor and leave them at home. They won’t even know what they’re missing.

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