Unless you’ve turned off your TV, disconnected your internet, laid down your smartphone, and hid under a rock, you’ve heard about the “Great American Eclipse of 2017.” More than likely, your social media feeds have been flooded with memes and photos of the total solar eclipse. Are you sick of it yet? If so, sorry (not sorry), but it’s my turn to post photos.
I was lucky that I didn’t have to travel further than my front yard to see this spectacular celestial event. My house was directly under the center line of the path of totality, so there was no better place to be. We allowed our daughter to play hooky from school to be sure she was able to witness this once in a lifetime experience, so this became an all day family event. Although there was some cloud cover, we weren’t disappointed with the show.
In case you missed it, here’s what happened
The total solar eclipse officially began at 1:10pm, with a small sliver of the sun disappearing from its top right corner. I had already spent the morning setting up the camera, testing my home made solar filter, and figuring out a good shutter speed to catch as much light as possible. It was a busy morning and I
made it very clear that I had one very specific life purpose while setting up… Luckily my family loves me despite my obsessive compulsive nerdiness, because I honestly have no idea what anyone said to me. The most complex response I gave to any question or small talk was “uh huh.” Bless their hearts, they finally just smiled and let me go obsess over the sun.
As we moved closer to totality, I was amazed at how little the brightness of the sun actually changed. If one had been completely unplugged and didn’t have a clue what was happening above their head, they wouldn’t have noticed any difference. No real change in light or temperature. From 1:10 until around 2:30, we watched and waited for the big show.
Totality, the FULL eclipse
The first eighty minutes of the eclipse were pretty uneventful. It was really interesting to watch, but there were no drastic changes in the sky.
Then it began.
The sky and everything around us began to turn a strange burnt orange color. The temperature started to drop just a little. My daughter noticed that the birds settled in to the trees as if sunset had arrived. A few minutes before totality, I looked down at my shadow to see the how it had changed. Normally, your shadow is a basic silhouette, but for just a minute or two your shadow has hair. Each individual hair on your body can be seen in your shadow. Suddenly everything went eerily quiet as shadow bands began to move across the ground. The shadow bands are basically wriggling strips of light and dark created by the suns last few rays passing through Earth’s atmosphere. This was spooky and awesome…
At 2:39pm the sky went dark and there was what looked like a black void where the sun used to be. The corona was completely covered but the rays coming from behind the void created a show unlike anything I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen Pink Floyd live). Totality only lasted 2 minutes and 41 seconds, but it felt like so much longer. It’s as if time paused and the world just, well, stopped. Then, as suddenly as it began, the sun began to peak around the other side of the moon. Lucky for us, the oddities of shadows started again and we enjoyed another few minutes of weirdness.
The aftermath, for me at least
I’m a nature worshipper… Not really in the religious sense of the term, but in the idea that God (or whatever Higher Power you have in your life) fills everything that surrounds us in our natural world. Witnessing this once in a lifetime experience just barely crossed the thin line between natural and supernatural. Looking through that small window of time during totality, it was as if we in the natural world were able to catch a glimpse of another world inhabited by the Gods of the ancient stories. I feel I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to experience the true power of God.
Our next chance to view a total eclipse in America won’t be until 2024, and you can bet I’m already making plans to be there. Nothing compares to it, and it’s well worth the travel.