Shedding Light on the Great Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 by Greg Mort

A total solar eclipse is an exotic event disrupting the normal routine of our celestial drama. This extraordinary event evokes the same kind of wonder as the appearance of a comet or a meteor shower. Throughout history, cosmic occurrences have ignited inspiration as well as consternation. Historically before eclipses were understood or predicted, ancient people were terrified.

Today we have the benefit of centuries of scientific knowledge to our diminish fears and enrich our experience. However, I would like to propose, to more fully enjoy the Great Total Eclipse of 2017 that you witness it as purely as possible by simply using all your five senses.

The morning of August 21st a total solar eclipse will race across the continental United States drawing an unprecedented amount of public attention. Our first truly transcontinental total solar eclipse in nearly 100 years and the first since the inception of the Internet we will have the ability to instantly communicate personal expression/interpretation and information. Even viewers clouded out or not in the direct path of totality will be able to share the event via live-feeds on many social media platforms.

As an artist and an astronomer who has logged as many hours at the telescope as at my easel, my suggestion is to view this once in a lifetime event free from our normal appendages of multi sensorial devices such as cameras and or communication devices.

While I compose these thoughts several weeks before the big day, many folks have made their travel plans, booked hotels, campsites, rented RV’s, imposed on relatives or strangers in the path of totality. A grand chorus of news coverage, endless but important safety warnings and equipment sales of all sizes and costs have already begun. In fact, if you are just now considering your battle plan, you are behind the curve by quite a bit. Still, don’t despair there is hope. Even if your hometown lies beyond the path of totality, a partial eclipse can be memorable if you take the time to enjoy the spectacle on multiple experiential levels.

Throughout a total solar eclipse and depending upon your location and good fortunate with the weather gods our sun will be partly or entirely blocked out by the moon passing directly in front of it. The moon’s close proximity to Earth allows it to appear to cover (eclipse) the solar disk even though it is hundreds of times smaller than

Greg Mort eclipse watching. Note solar discs projected on the ground.

our sun. As the moon’s shadow travels across the earth at over 1000 miles an hour (due to the moons orbital motion minus the Earth’s eastward), the viewer will witness the gentle lunar dance lasting about two hours from start to finish. The sky will slowly darken; temperatures will drop as the air under the shadow cools causing winds to dissipate transforming the landscape with an eerie stillness. One should not expect the sky to appear uniformly dark.

The area closest to the sun will be darkened, and as we gaze toward the earth’s horizon, it will appear lighter. The highlight, (total coverage of the sun) will only last a little over two minutes. During these tantalizing few moments, the jet-black disk of the moon is directly over the sun. A breathtaking sun-lite halo called the corona (Latin for crown) surrounding the disc. Then as the dance progresses light streaks through the valleys of the lunar mountains in a brief sparkling phenomenon known as “Baily’s Beads.”

Be open to all of the unique qualities a solar eclipse has to offer. There is a fascinating list of observations you can witness aside from following the disc of the moon as it crosses over the sun. For example, since the entire event spans about two hours make a note of how the quality, tone, color or transparency of light around you change. From my experience, wondrous and unusual lighting effects are parts of the drama of any total or partial solar eclipse. In general, the tone of what would normally be a sunny bright day gives way to an ever-changing palette of “silvery” light. Some observers have also reported a “green-ness” as the light diminishes.

Those viewers in the direct path of the moon’s shadow will also enjoy the brief appearance of several planets and bright stars. Starting at about thirty minutes before totality the planets Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury will gradually come into view. The brightest star in our sky, Sirius along with Arcturus, Capella and Regulus will add to the spectacle.

Please remember that no matter how much of the sun’s disc is covered it is always advised to use proper protective eye shielding at all times. Inexpensive Mylar solar filters and glasses are available from many sources.

To photograph or not to photograph is a very common and important question. I was confronted with the same choice during my first artistic commission as a NASA artist. The veteran members of the Shuttle Art team who had portrayed earlier missions wisely suggested not wasting valuable time snapping pictures. Rather they recommended focusing on a real-time emotional eyewitness record.

I failed to heed their warning and purchased a camera that could take continuous frames. Fortunately, as Sally Ride became the first American woman to orbit the Earth, I was able to take a number of images and watch at the carry any of the impact of the brilliant light, thundering sound, earthquake like vibration, smell of the rocket fuel or the sensation of the infrared heat hitting your face even at three miles from the launch pad! In the end the artwork that I produced for the NASA Art

The program came entirely from the overpowering emotional impact of witnessing this powerful event. Photographing was a total waste of time and a major distraction.

For photographs of this eclipse, I plan to depend upon the thousands of professional images taken by people well versed in recording such a rare event that will be instantaneously available to the public via the Internet, journals, and magazines. My first priority will be to savor each aspect of the spectacle, first-hand, record it via the mind’s eye, and use all five senses to totally absorb the atmosphere.

However, if it is just too hard to resist the temptation to capture the event electronically, here are a few simple tricks that should produce positive results. Use a tripod to hold your cell phone or camera for hands-free operation. Set up and test your equipment in advance and practice the steps you will follow to confirm smooth functioning. Making your technical process as “automatic “ as possible should allow you the freedom to enjoy the eclipse on a high tech as well as sensorial level.

Finally, I would also encourage watching the eclipse with others. The more perspectives and memories you rally together, the better your chances are to notice a discrete aspect or unique interpretation of the phenomenon. After the show has come and gone it is particularly wonderful to discuss and relive the event with your fellow eclipse companions.

Then, you can all start planning for the next eclipse adventure

Greg Mort is an internationally recognized contemporary artist who is represented by the Carla Massoni Gallery, a passionate amateur astronomer and member of the NASA Shuttle Art Team who serves on the board of the Lowell Observatory. He is traveling to Madras, Oregon to view the eclipse with family and friends.

Spy Minute: Talbot’s Crashbox Theatre Company with Ricky Vitanovec and Kelly Bonnette

Crashbox Theatre, a summer program directed towards Talbot County youth, illustrates the unbelievable talent in theatre arts in our community and a direct link to the professional talents of New York City.

Richard (Ricky) Vitanovec, who serves our community as theatre teacher at Easton Middle School and Easton High School, is the Executive Director ~ Crashbox Theatre Company, and works tirelessly to develop relationships in New York that transfer to direct opportunities for local youth.

The latest partnership brings Brian Michael Hoffman from the SEUSICAL Off-Broadway show, loaded with experience from touring nationally with ANNIE, and Internationally with HERCULES, THE MUSE-ICAL. He even served on the film team for ANNIE and THE WIZ LIVE with Sony Studios and NBC’s PETER PAN LIVE. Hoffman specializes in Character Voices and Improv, while teaching expertexpert technique for acting for live audiences. Having his attention on our youth opens doors for the future.

Vitanovec attracts the experts due to his earned reputation in New York City as a serious talent developer and show producer and director. He holds a master’s degree in theatre production and has directed over thirty-three productions. He further contributes to our community by acting at Church Hill Theatre, Hugh Gregory Gallagher Theatre, Tred Avon Players and the St. Michael’s Community Center

The Spy sits down with Ricky  and Kelly Bonnette, the volunteer president of Crashbox, for an exclusive on what to expect this summer for our young actors and actresses.

As they say in theatre, the show must go on!

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Find out more about Crashbox please go here.

Shore Leadership Class Meets at Wye River Upper School

The 2017 Shore Leadership class met at Wye River Upper School in Queen Anne’s County on May 24th for the first of 7 sessions.  Two students from Wye River Upper School greeted and welcomed the class to the completely renovated Centreville National Guard Barracks which Wye River now calls home.

The morning session was facilitated by Dr. Joe Thomas on Leading with Strengths.  The class had completed the Strengths Finder assessment and used that information throughout the morning as they worked with Dr. Thomas.

After lunch, Ms. Chrissy Aull, founder and Executive Director of Wye River Upper School discussed the history of the school and why there is a need for schools like Wye River.  Three students shared their stories and talked about how their learning differences held them back at their other schools but that at Wye River their differences have become their strengths and have helped them to be successful.  The students and Ms. Aull gave the class a tour of the renovated campus. 

Dr. Jon Andes, Executive Director of the Eastern Shore of Maryland Education Consortium, spoke to the class about the State of Public Education in Maryland.  He shared the laws the govern Maryland public education and told the class that each year there is a deficit of more than 2000 qualified teachers in Maryland.  The Maryland colleges are not producing enough teachers and students are not enrolling to become teachers.  Neighboring states are also seeing a decline in their teacher education programs. He also shared that since 1986 the nine counties on the Eastern Shore have been part of the ESMEC consortium which gives them a bigger voice with the legislature and with the Maryland State Department of Education.

Later in the afternoon Marci Leach from Chesapeake College and Bryan Newton from Wor-Wic Community College led a discussion and game show which highlighted the role of Community Colleges in today’s world.  Deborah Urry, Executive Director of the Eastern Shore Higher Education Center shared information about the baccalaureate and graduate degrees offered at the Center which is located on the Chesapeake College Wye Mills Campus.

Throughout the day the class focused on how strengths can be used as a focus for leadership development.  The next session will be held in Caroline County in June and will deal with the topic of Rural Health Care.

Mid-Shore Arts: Working the Water with Jay Fleming

It is hard not to be a bit unnerved by how young Jay Fleming is after seeing his extraordinary work of photography. While only thirty years old, Fleming has produced a portfolio that shows a maturity and mastery that should match up with someone twice his age.

Perhaps one of the reasons for this surprising contradiction is the fact that he is the son of Kevin Fleming, whose photographs graced the pages of National Geographic for much of the 1980s and 1990s. But the other compelling factor was Jay’s fascination and love of the Chesapeake Bay region from the moment he was first taken out on the water as a child.

Regardless of some of these co-factors, the fact remains that Jay Fleming has very quickly earned the reputation as being part of a new generation of award-winning photographers devoted to recording realistic portraits of men and women working on the water.

The latest example of this booming career is the recent release of Working the Water, a stunning 280-page photography book that chronicles the life and work of watermen from the most northern part of the Chesapeake Bay to the furthest South.

A few weeks ago, the Spy visited Jay in his new studio space in Annapolis to talk about his disciplined approach to the art of photography.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information on Jay Fleming please go here Jay’s work can be found at the Trippe-Hilderbrandt Gallery in Easton.

Profiles in Spirituality: St. Peter and Paul’s Father James Nash

The idea of being the leader of Saints Peter & Paul Parish could easily strike urbanites as the equivalent of being the classic country priest, whose time is spent leisurely ministering to a small flock of the faithful in a beautiful rural setting. But it didn’t take long for Father James Nash to dispel that myth very quickly from his modest office on Route 50 in Easton when the Spy caught up with him a few weeks ago.

In fact, Father Nash oversees an enterprise that is counted as one of the largest employers in Talbot County and includes an elementary school, high school, and three churches with membership in the thousands. And each week, he not only faces the normal challenges that come with any man of the cloth, but must manage over one hundred employees, fundraise for substantial building projects, and administer a $6 million annual budget during his spare time.

And yet none of this seems to weigh too heavily on the priest who left a successful accounting practice to find his real vocation within the Catholic Church. In our Spy interview, Father Nash talks about the business of St. Peter and Paul, but also about the timeless beauty of his faith, the teachings of Pope Francis, and his humble philosophy of leadership in caring for his parish.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Saints Peter and Paul Church and School, please go here.

 

An Architect Looks at Easton’s Future with Ward Bucher

As the town of Easton prepares for a significant investment from private and public sources over the next 20 years for housing, infrastructure, and commercial development for a Port Street plan as well as the space presumably being made available with the hospital relocation, it seemed like a good time to check in with an architect about such things. And one person, in particular, struck the Spy as a terrific resource to talk about design, historic preservation and commerce, and that was Talbot County’s, Ward Bucher.

It would be hard to find someone that has been looking harder at downtown Easton than Ward, whose architectural firm has worked on and invested in projects in this core part of town. And he also recently accepted a position on the Eastern Development Corporation board.

The Spy caught up with Ward at the Bullet House a few weeks ago to talk about Easton as it begins to take necessary steps in planning its future.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Easton Economic Development Corporation and the Port Street Project please go here

The Making of Oxford Conservation Park with Preston Peper and Bill Wolinski

Although there are many exciting projects in the world of planning community infrastructure, nothing compares to starting a community park from scratch. That was the reaction of Talbot County’s Director of Parks and Recreation, Preston Peper, and County Engineer Bill Wolinski when presented with the task of converting a 96-acre parcel of land in Oxford into a passive use open space park a few years ago.

Through a creative assemblage of funding from local and state grants, Bill and Preston worked with community stakeholders to create a vision for existing farmland near the town’s volunteer fire department building, and after much planning, the Oxford Conservation Park turned into a reality last Saturday at a ribbon opening the park up for public use.

The Spy spent some time with Bill and Preston to talk about the project and how they were able to cleverly combine real conservation needs for the area with a public park dedicated to environmental education. We caught up with them at Bullett House a few weeks ago.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Talbot County Department of Parks and Recreation please go here

 

Oxford’s Scottish Highland Creamery to Change Ownership

Pictured from left are Victor and Susan Barlow, G.L. Fronk, Gordon Fronk and Michael Fronk.

After twelve years of owning and operating The Scottish Highland Creamery, Susan and Victor Barlow are pleased to share that the business will be passed on and sold to the Fronk Family at the conclusion of the 2017 season. The Barlows and the Fronks are fully committed to working together to ensure a smooth transition over the summer and beyond so customers will continue to enjoy the same delicious ice cream they have come to expect for years to come.

“It’s been a wonderful twelve years building this business, serving our community and being welcomed into the traditions and celebrations of our customers,” said the Barlows. “However, after 35 years of making ice cream, Victor has decided to ‘pass the scoop on’ as it was to him. We cannot put into words how much we appreciate the Town of Oxford for embracing us from the start and giving us the opportunity to do what we love. The familiar faces you have come to know at the window will not change, as our entire staff will be staying with the business.”

“The Scottish Highland Creamery will be our family business,” said GL and Michael Fronk, who will be running the day-to-day operations. “Customers can rest assured that we share the Barlows’ commitment to family, hard work and the Town of Oxford. We are honored that Victor has chosen us to carry on his recipes and techniques so that his ice cream will continue to be enjoyed by current and future generations. We are excited to lead the business into its next chapter.”

The Fronks are familiar faces around The Scottish Highland Creamery and have deep roots in Oxford and Talbot County. Gordon and Sally Fronk have been pillars of our community for many years. Their sons, GL and Michael, who will be managing the day-to-day operations of the business, both have a strong background in the Food & Beverage industry. GL and his wife, Laura, a teacher at Saints Peter and Paul, live in Trappe with their two children. Michael is currently in the process of moving back to Talbot County with his wife, Allison, a flight attendant, and two daughters.

“While bittersweet, we are excited about our future and that of The Scottish Highland Creamery,” said the Barlows. “Now that we have secured the legacy of the business we’ve built, we are looking forward to spending time with family and figuring out what’s next. The fond memories from the years of establishing and growing our business and the thousands of people we’ve met and served along the way will remain with us always. We hope our patrons will continue to show The Scottish Highland Creamery and the Fronks the same loyalty and love you have bestowed on us for the past twelve years.”

Spy Moment: Talbot County Toasts Four Companies and One Special Saloon Owner

It was a pretty special morning over at the Milestone Event Center near the Easton Airport today. The Talbot County Economic Development Commission handed out their Community Impact Awards to some of the region’s most entrepreneurial and dynamic corporations, nonprofit organizations and individuals. All part of the annual Commission’s Business Appreciation Breakfast hosted by the County’s Economic Development and Tourism office.

While program was highlighted by a keynote address of Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, as well as brief remarks from Clay Railey, Chesapeake College’s vice president for workforce and academic programs, the real spotlight was placed on four companies and one individual who have made a making significant impact in Talbot County over the last year.

The Easton-based companies Caloris Engineering, Inquiries, Inc. and The Whalen Company, as well as the nonprofit, For All Seasons, focused on outpatient mental health services, all took a bow for their contributions to the region’s growth, but the largest round of applause was reserved for Diana Mautz, the community’s beloved sailing champion, philanthropist, and owner of the Carpenter Street Saloon in St. Michaels.

The Spy was there with our iPhone camera in hand to capture some of the highlights.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the County’s Economic Development and Tourism Office please go here

 

 

The Shore Icons Mural with Bob Porter

For those who know Le Hatchery’s owner Bob Porter, it is no secret that he has been looking at a multitude of ways to beautify the area that surrounds his gallery on Kemp Lane in Easton.  In fact, some would call it a quest of sorts for the Easton-born art dealer and sign maker. While this part of town would not be called ‘blighted’ by any sense of the word, Bob always has had the goal of “sprucing it up” since he moved his gallery from St. Michaels to Easton a few years ago.

What may be new for some though is the fact that Bob has finally settled on a plan of action and the results, if funding can be found, would place the Shore Icons Mural project in the Guinness Book of World Records.

That’s right, the Icons project, as envisioned by Cambridge mural artist Michael Rosato, would be the largest hand-painted mural on the planet with the area service of 13,500 square feet in size.

That kind of goal setting is fun for Bob, but the real pleasure of the project was  not only identifying 50 Maryland iconic scenes that could not only be reproduced on this large outside canvas, but developing a lasting tool to engage Talbot County schoolchildren in  unique history and culture of the Eastern Shore.

The Spy caught up with Bob at the Bullitt House a few weeks ago to get an update.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the project contact Bob at bob@sharpergraphics.com