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You Could Be One of the First People to See the Upcoming Solar Eclipse With New Airbnb Contest

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Airbnb

Airbnb is going to help two lucky people become some of the first in the nation to see the cross-continental total solar eclipse when it journeys across the U.S. on August 21. As Travel + Leisure reports, the company is holding a contest to send two guests on a deluxe eclipse-viewing mini-vacation in Oregon.

First, the winner and their guest will head to Bend, Oregon on August 20 to stay in a geodesic dome under the stars, looking up at the night sky from the observation deck with multiple telescopes, according to the press release. They’ll hang out and chat about the stars with with astrophysicist Jedidah Isler, who studies black holes, and learn how to shoot great nighttime photos with Babak Tafreshi, a National Geographic photographer.

An interior view of the Airbnb geodesic dome.
Airbnb

The next day, Isler will accompany the winners on a private jet for a two-hour flight over the Pacific Ocean. The plane will fly along the path of totality, potentially extending the amount of time the guests have to view the Moon completely covering the Sun by up to a minute compared to what people will see from the ground.

Even if you don’t win, plenty of people are trekking out to the path of totality, and you can probably find another place to crash. Airbnb estimates that it has around 3800 listed houses along the path of totality. (This one in Oregon is going for $10,000 a night that weekend.) But you might have more trouble finding a private plane to fly you to a viewing spot atop the clouds. The next total solar eclipse won't be visible from the U.S. until 2024, so this is your last chance for a while.

You have until August 10 to send Airbnb your best argument for why you should get to go on a great eclipse adventure.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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Space
Eclipses Belong to Families That Span Millennia
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If you’re lucky enough to see the solar eclipse when it passes over America on August 21, you’ll bear witness to a centuries-long legacy. That’s because total eclipses of the sun aren’t isolated incidents that occur at random. They belong to interconnected eclipse families that humans have been using to track the phenomena since long before the first telescope was invented.

In the latest installment of StarTalk on Mashable, Neil deGrasse Tyson chats with meteorologist Joe Rao about the science behind eclipse families. According to Rao, eclipses follow Saros cycles which repeat every 18 years, 11 days, 8 hours. Astronomers keep track of many different Saros cycles. The eclipse on August 21, for example, is a member of the family Solar Saros 145. Every 18 years a Saros 145 eclipse falls over a different third of the Earth. In 1999, the great American eclipse’s “cousin” appeared in the skies over Europe and south Asia, and 18 years before that another relative could be seen over modern Russia. The Solar Saros clan can be traced all the way back to 1639 and it will keep going until 3009.

Today, scientists have space-age technology that allows them to track the moment of totality down to a fraction of a second. But thousands of years ago, before such satellite-tracking equipment was invented, ancient Babylonians only knew what they could observe from Earth. Their eclipse calculations ended up serving them pretty well: They were able to predict the same 18-year cycle we know to be true today.

Saros 145 isn’t the only family of eclipses making its way around the Earth. There are enough solar eclipse cycles to make the event a fairly common occurrence. If you’re curious to see how many will happen in your lifetime, here’s where you can calculate the number.

[h/t Mashable]

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‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ Could Have Been a Meat Loaf Song
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Imagine a world in which Bonnie Tyler was not the star performer on the Royal Caribbean Total Eclipse Cruise. Imagine if, instead, as the moon crossed in front of the sun in the path of totality on August 21, 2017, the performer belting out the 1983 hit for cruise ship stargazers was Meat Loaf?

It could have been. Because yes, as Atlas Obscura informs us, the song was originally written for the bestselling rocker (and actor) of Bat Out of Hell fame, not the husky-voiced Welsh singer. Meat Loaf had worked on his 1977 record Bat Out of Hell with Jim Steinman, the composer and producer who would go on to work with the likes of Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand (oddly enough, he also composed Hulk Hogan’s theme song on an album released by the WWE). “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was meant for Meat Loaf’s follow-up album to Bat Out of Hell.

But Meat Loaf’s fruitful collaboration with Steinman was about to end. In the wake of his bestselling record, the artist was going through a rough patch, mentally, financially, and in terms of his singing ability. And the composer wasn’t about to stick around. As Steinman would tell CD Review magazine in 1989 (an article he has since posted on his personal website), "Basically I only stopped working with him because he lost his voice as far as I was concerned. It was his voice I was friends with really.” Harsh, Jim, harsh.

Steinman began working with Bonnie Tyler in 1982, and in 1983, she released her fifth album, Faster Than the Speed of Night, including “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” It sold 6 million copies.

Tyler and Steinman both dispute that the song was written specifically for Meat Loaf. “Meat Loaf was apparently very annoyed that Jim gave that to me,” she told The Irish Times in 2014. “But Jim said he didn’t write it for Meat Loaf, that he only finished it after meeting me.”

There isn’t a whole lot of bad blood between the two singers, though. In 1989, they released a joint compilation album: Heaven and Hell.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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