The Rapp for August 17

Eclipse to behold

The countdown has begun to experience the first total (well, 85 percent) solar eclipse in Rappahannock County in 38 years, with the moon sliding over the sun next Monday, Aug. 21, beginning at approximately 1:15 p.m and ending at 4 p.m., with the maximum shadow engulfing us around 2:41 p.m.

The last time anybody in the Blue Ridge foothills saw anywhere near a total eclipse of the sun was on Feb. 26, 1979, when Jimmy Carter was president and John Dalton was Virginia’s governor. In case you miss Monday’s total eclipse you won’t have to wait so long for the next one — April 8, 2024.

But what makes this eclipse so special and a once-in-a-lifetime event is it will be seen from America’s west coast all the way to the east coast. The last time that happened was just under 100 years ago, on June 8, 1918.

That said, a total eclipse will be visible only beneath the moon’s central shadow, which at its widest point is approximately 72 miles. The nearest destinations to Rappahannock County to see the total eclipse are south and west. All told, parts of 14 U.S. states will go dark, starting in Oregon and moving southeast into Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina.

Even in Rappahannock, where public school children will be going outdoors to observe the eclipse through protective eyewear, the sight should be nothing short of spectacular (weather permitting). It will appear to the younger children as if the moon is taking a large bite out of the sun. They will also feel the temperature drop, and perhaps notice birds and other animals becoming quiet and still. And, of course, it will grow dark.

At the height of the eclipse, certain stars could also become visible, including Venus, Jupiter, and Mars.

President needed

With the retirement of Dr. Cheryl Thompson-Stacy as president of Lord Fairfax Community College, the LFCC College Board and the Virginia Community College System are conducting a nationwide search for her replacement.

Lord Fairfax invites residents of Rappahannock County to provide input on the college’s priorities for the next three to five years. A brief online survey is available through August 21 and can be found at Paper copies are available at the college’s locations, including in Warrenton and Luray.

Responses are anonymous and will become part of the material considered by the LFCC Board in the search process.

Baldface and pots

A new exhibition will open at the Gay Street Gallery in Washington this Saturday, August 19, with an artists’ reception scheduled that same day from 4 to 7 p.m.

Featured will be photography by Hullihen Williams Moore; pottery by River District Potters Sara Adams, Susan Hornbostel, Doris Jones and Nancy Nord; and paintings by gallery host Kevin H. Adams.

Baldface Mountain Overlook

Williams Moore, who lives in Richmond, is a nationally recognized landscape photographer. His 2003 book, “Shenandoah: Views of Our National Park,” was widely hailed, with NPR suggesting Moore had done for Shenandoah what Ansel Adams (with whom Moore studied) did for Yosemite. His work is in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and other prominent collections.

The Four River District Potters bring an eclectic approach to an ancient art form, creating vessels, figurative pieces, tea pots and other works, including wheel-thrown and handbuilt earthenware and stoneware.

Adams, whose studio is next-door to the gallery at 337 Gay Street, will be presenting new paintings of architecture in the Virginia landscape and work from his much-anticipated Shenandoah National Park series, the outcome of his artist-in-residency in the park earlier this summer.

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