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Upcoming Aug. 21 solar eclipse thrills astronomers, Kentucky parishioners


  • A combination photograph shows the beginning to the end of a total solar eclipse as seen in 2016 from the beach of Ternate Island, Indonesia. The United States will experience its first coast-to-coast total eclipse in 99 years Aug. 21. (CNS photo/Beawiharta, Reuters)
  • Jim Creighton, a member of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Hopkinsville, Ky., and a member of the parish's Eclipse Committee, owns a woodworking shop and was busy in late June carving specially designed plaques in advance of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse. (CNS photo/courtesy Jim Creighton)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- For the first time in 99 years, the summer sky will turn to night at midday Aug. 21 during a solar eclipse along a 70-mile wide path from coast to coast.

Sweeping through the country's heartland, the eclipse will give millions of people the opportunity to step back from everyday concerns and appreciate how the universe works, said Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory.

While there have been other total eclipses in the U.S., they have only crossed through a handful of states.

"Anything that reminds the people that the world is bigger than the latest crisis in Washington or another game in San Francisco, all of that calls us out of our everyday life," Brother Consolmagno said. "We're people. We're more than well-fed cows. We're part of the universe. And that longing is what pulls us toward God.

"But even more than that if you already believe that this universe is God's creation, then looking at an event like this with the eyes of faith, you can't help but be filled with awe and gratitude. Awe because God made things so marvelously, and gratitude because he gave us the ability to appreciate them," he told Catholic News Service.

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