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Posted: August 18, 2017

What is the cool solar eclipse catchphrase everybody's talking about?


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By Larry Aydlette, Palm Beach Post

Keep your umbra, penumbra and antumbra, your shadow bands and Baily’s Beads, too.

When it comes to contagious catchphrases that have become part of the dialogue during this season of eclipse fever, the best has to be “The Path of Totality.”

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We just can’t shut up about it. It’s like we’ve become a nation of overnight astrophysicists.

For the eclipse-challenged, the path of totality is a miles-wide shadow line across earth’s face when the moon blots out the sun during a solar eclipse. Totality is that magic moment when the sun is completely obscured by the moon.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? The Dude from “The Big Lebowski” would be totally into totality, man. Or HAL in Kubrick’s “2001”: “I’m sorry, Dave, but I can’t open the pod bay doors until we’re on the path of totality.”

Story after story about Monday’s total solar eclipse can’t resist this juicy piece of insider lingo, with its knowing mix of nerdy science and Zen hipster cool.

Headlines scream: "Path of totality the place to be.” Others ponder “eclipse economics”: Will the path boost tourism and fill hotel rooms? Path music festivals are planned. A Midwest couple is getting married in the path. “Gas prices climb along path of totality.” Our favorite: “Weed activists in path of totality have big plans for eclipse.” We bet they do.

An article on Quartz Media reports on the worrisome trend of path addicts. It’s sort of like meth for moon-blocking-sun junkies. They suffer from “umbraphilia,” the need to chase the astral dragon across continents and experience full totality multiple times. They share their experiences online with fellow “umbraphiles,” or shadow lovers.

Google “path of totality” and more than 2.2 million mentions pop up. Did you know that Korn’s 10th album was called “The Path of Totality?” (Scary pause to consider that Korn made 10 albums.) There are craft beers called Path of Totality and path T-shirts for sale.

Back in 1918, newspaper stories mentioned “the track of totality.” But path is a much trendier-sounding upgrade for our journey-seeking age. Don’t we all want to be on the path of totality? Or one with it?

Living in the path — or doing a temporary hang there — is Monday’s ultimate American status symbol, a backstage pass and golden ticket good for a few hours only, complete with bragging rights.

For those outside the shadow line, it’s like being stuck behind a velvet rope at Earth’s coolest celestial disco.

Totally, uh, path-etic.


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