Zoya is bottle fed for the last time by a Philadelphia Zookeeper.

On Aug. 21 a total solar eclipse will pass over North America, the first time one has crossed completely over the continent since 1979. Gordon State College chemistry professor and amateur astronomer Richard Schmude wants people viewing the event to do so safely.

In the first of three planned eclipse workshops hosted by the Jackson-Butts County Public Library, Schmude came to Jackson July 13 to explain how an eclipse works and the three ways people can observe one safely. They include using one’s hands to make a screen to help focus on a shadow of the eclipse on the ground, using a device called a Sunspotter and wearing special glasses to actually track the eclipse in the sky.

“Looking at the sun will cause permanent damage to your eyes,” Schmude said. “The sun is going to be like a cookie with a bite taken out of it.”

A quick way to see the action without looking at the sky at all is to stand in the shade of a tree, then cross one’s fingers across each other to form a waffle pattern. The latticed shadows that result will allow people to see a crescent of shadow from above.

“I’ll be seeing it with my Sunspotter,” Schmude said.

The Sunspotter is a curved device that focuses light and shadow from the eclipse onto paper. When Schmude took participants outside to demonstrate the device, pointing it at the afternoon sun, onlookers got a bonus — a tiny black dot near the edge of the circle of sunlight shining on the paper.

“That’s a sunspot. We’re really lucky to see it. Everything (on the sun) is moving, even the black dot,” Schmude said.

The sunspot is a relatively cooler spot on the surface of the sun that emits less light.

“It’s twice the size of the earth. That was a big one,” he said. “We don’t get too many like that.”

The third way to observe the eclipse is with glasses designed to block the harmful rays of the sun from one’s eyes. One can look into the sky at the eclipsed sun with them, if one is careful, Schmude said. He recommends children use them only under the supervision of an adult.

Some of the sun’s radiation cannot be seen at all so someone looking at the eclipse without aid could be injured before they realize it, Schmude said.

Schmude, who had an asteroid named after him last year, is a coordinator for five astronomy observing sections run by the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers. He has been an executive and associate director for the organization. He has received its Walter Haas and Peggy Haas excellence awards for amateur astronomers, according to a 2016 press release from Gordon State College.

He began his talk by walking through the mechanics of an eclipse, demonstrating how the moon revolves around Earth. Mckenzi Bass-Gainey held a globe and Faulkner held a yellow ball representing the sun, complete with a black dot sunspot.

Schmude moved around the library meeting room to show how eclipses happen as the moon moves between the Earth and sun, casting a shadow across whichever part of the world that spins by. When it passes between the sun and Earth at the right angle, that shadow becomes an eclipse.

“It’s easy to understand the motion of the moon, earth and sun,” Schmude said. “The moon’s shadow passes over us.”

Schmude said two parts of the moon’s shadow, the umbra and penumbra, will cross the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina on Aug. 21. The penumbra, the outer circle of the eclipse, is not as dark as the umbra, or center.

“We’re going to be in the really dark part of the penumbra, which is going to be about 95 percent totality,” he said. “If you drive up to Nashville, Tenn., you’ll be in the umbra. For 2 minutes or so it’s going to be very dark. If you go to Young Harris, you’ll be able to see the umbra pass over.”

When this happens, he said, children will be in school when the eclipse starts around 12:15 p.m. It will peak between 2:40 and 3:20 p.m. and, barring cloudy weather, good views can be found as early as 1:30 p.m. as the sky darkens. The eclipse will fade around 5 p.m.

“The temperature will drop just a little bit,” he said.

Brown twins celebrate 91 years in Butts County

What could be Butts County’s oldest set of living twins celebrated their 91st birthday by doing exactly what they chose to do — absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.

Victor Mose “Buster” Brown and his sister Virginia Brown Moss were born and raised in Butts County, with the exception of a brief time they lived in Monroe County when they were 5 years old. The twins have lived in the Four Points area of Old Bethel Road for most of their lives.

“It was the only time we lived out of the county,” Virginia said of 1931, when the Great Depression was in full swing and their house burned down.

“All three of us were born there and Mama was too,” Virginia said of the old home place. Their older sister Sarah Brown James died in 2005.

The twins were born on July 11, 1926, to H.E. and Mary Vaughn Brown and still get around well.

“When they get together it’s like two young’uns playing,” said Buster’s son, Bobby Brown.

Their parents first tried to make a go of it in H.E. Brown’s home state of Indiana.

“Mother couldn’t take the weather so they came back,” Virginia said. “They stayed here for the rest of their lives.”

Buster is the oldest twin by some 15 minutes.

“Me and him had it not too rough,” Virginia said. “When he got in trouble this old girl went to the fence. I guess all twins are like that.”

Things were not always rosy. At age 10, Buster found himself behind a mule and plow, leaving his sisters in the fields.

“My sister and I chopped the cotton and this thing would plow the same row, over and over, to get out of it,” Virginia said, pointing a finger at Buster.

“There was no such thing as a tractor,” Buster said. “It was a two-mule plow with the handles cut down so I could reach them. I’ve only got two speeds now. High gear and reverse are worn out.”

For 86 years now, Buster has lived in the house the Browns moved into upon their return to Butts County. While his nephew handles most of the farm work, Buster still helps out with the cattle.

“Daddy gave $125 for 117 acres,” he said. “We wound up with 123 acres after it was surveyed.”

Buster married the late Carolyn Jane Faulkner on Oct. 15, 1949. They raised their two children, Ibra Osa and Bobby Brown, at the farm. He has three grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

“When Jane died we were 11 days shy of being 62 years together,” he said.

Both the twins went to school in Jenkinsburg and Virginia was a graduate of the Jackson High School class of 1945. Buster, who had dropped out of school, made his required visit to the draft board to sign up for the military. He was turned down due to health reasons.

“I had to stay home and farm,” Buster said. “I farmed for two years after Jane and I married and I worked at the pepper plant for 50 cents an hour. Daddy died in 1957 and I went to work building houses with Red (Robert) King. After that I worked with Floyd Moye down in Monroe County. Then I worked for 25 or 30 years by myself building houses and cabinets and stuff.”

The Friday after her high school graduation Virginia went to work at the truck depot in Conley. She kept working in transportation despite an early hiccup – military servicemen returning from World War II needed their jobs back.

“I got rolled,” she said. “I worked there a good little while. I worked for the Atlanta-Macon Express freight line for another three years, then I got married and my daughter Jean (Yell) was born.”

Virginia and her husband, the late Nesbitt Moss, had two daughters, including the late Sheila Kelley. Both Nesbitt and Sheila died in 2011. Virginia has two grandsons, a granddaughter and several great-grandchildren.

She also worked at the old Westbury Nursing Home in Jenkinsburg and attended Old Bethel Primitive Baptist Church until it closed several years ago.

“We went to school at the church while they were building the school in Jenkinsburg,” Buster recalled. He remembers waiting on the school bus to make it down a “cow pasture road” and Virginia remembers getting to go to school in a car when the weather was bad.

“The bus would get stuck and the boys would have to get it unstuck,” he said. “If people call me by my real name, I went to school with them. I’ve always gone by Buster Brown.”

In 1991, Buster opened B.B.’s Deer Cooler on Buster Brown Road, so named because at one time he was the only person living on it. Buster gave up carpentry about 15 years ago. The deer cooler remained open until last year.

“I’m thankful for all the years I’ve had,” Virginia said. “We’ve seen a lot of changes in Butts County and the United States. It’s not the same.”