The 2017 Eclipse

2017 Eclipse

Sue and I took a quick trip up to Tennessee in hopes of seeing the eclipse. The trip consisted of two full days of driving in order to spend two days there, but even if the eclipse fell through at least we would have the chance to visit with friends in Atlanta and Tennessee.

It turned out that we couldn’t have asked for a better day. We went to a Tennessee State Park on a reservoir, so we spent the day surrounded by trees, hills, and water. Not a cloud in the sky for most of the day. Some clouds picked up as the eclipse was building, but they disappeared about 20 minutes before totality.

I have been lucky to see many amazing and interesting things in my life. That said, the total eclipse is without a doubt the coolest thing I have ever seen. I’ve seen partial eclipses before, and while they are interesting there is just no comparison to looking up and seeing a ring of fire.

I want to write down some things I noticed before I forget them. We got the opportunity to look through a couple of good telescopes at the sun, and could see sunspots. It took about an hour and a half from the start of the eclipse until the totality. Up until about 15-20 minutes before totality we couldn’t really notice any change. Even with the sun about 80% covered it was a bright sunny day.

The first change I noticed was that the summer sun was no longer baking my skin. It was still a bright sunny day, but I didn’t feel like I was standing in an oven. Then the light got a bit weird. Almost like late afternoon, with the light just a bit less intense, but without the nice orange glow or the nice contrasting shadows you get when the sun isn’t directly overhead.

With about 5 minutes to go things started really picking up. The cicadas started singing. People were getting excited. Even at one minute to go it seemed no dimmer than a cloudy day. I looked through my peril-sensitive sunglasses and watched the last of the sun disappear, and then I saw nothing. It never occurred to me that I’d need to remove the glasses once the totality began.

I pulled the glasses off, looked up, and was just stunned. Seriously, I failed to adjust the camera and just stood there in awe of what I was seeing for about two and a half minutes until the sun came back out from behind the moon. The picture up above doesn’t even come close to describing the beauty of it.

Imagine about 20-30 minutes after sunset, when the sky is a deep cobalt blue just before turning black, and the horizon just has a bit of orange and pink left in it. Now imagine the horizon looks like that in every direction. Up in that blue-black sky is a disk of the deepest black you will ever see in our life, blacker even than having your eyes closed. It is surrounded by the fiery brushstrokes of the suns’ corona. It was fantastic.

All too soon, it was gone. Quickly the light came back, and all that was left was a sense of amazement and a desire to see it again.

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