Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Great American Eclipse 2017


We were lucky enough that J's parents live right smack in the path of totality of the eclipse. Did you see it? I still get chills every time I think about it and I had a dream the other night that we were seeing it again and it was so real and just as divine. Here I am in complete awe at the beginning of the eclipse, when the moon was just beginning to take a little bite out of the cookie shaped sun. At this point, we hadn't seen anything yet. I had literally no idea what was coming. I was not in any way prepared for the deeply unsettling totality before it rushed in. It is so false and inaccurate and misleading that a partial solar eclipse is called an eclipse at all. Partial eclipses should be called lunar transits because when the moon doesn't eclipse, as in completely cover the sun, it's just a passing. If NASA didn't tell us a partial solar eclipse (also an annular eclipse) was happening, we might not even notice, right up to 94%. 


But that's because we talk about eclipses in terms of percentages of darkness. The news will say that it's going to be 93% eclipsed and our minds jump to the conclusion that a 93% eclipse somehow equates to 93% dark and that seems pretty darn dark. But that is not what it's saying at all. 93% eclipsed really means 7% sun exposed. And the sun is so awesome and powerful that just 7% of its force can light up the world.

Just think of that. 7%. If my phone is at 7% it's basically dead. If the battery is at 93%, it's practically fully charged. If we score a 7% on a test, it's a colossal failure, but a 93% on a test is a solid A. 7% is insignificant, feeble at best, just barely a hair above nothing.

But the sun is phenomenal. It is truly awesome and all powerful.

7% of the sun is broad daylight even though it seems that 93% darkness should be very, very, very dark. It's not.


The eclipse honestly made it so that I wasn't too fussed over our plans to go overseas falling through. Really. I have wanted to see a total solar eclipse my entire life and it did not, by any measure, disappoint. In fact, all at once it inspired, energized and terrified me. It shook me straight to my core and I can safely say that I have never experienced anything quite so extraordinary in my life. The only words I could find to describe it were "deeply unsettling" because I felt jumbled, upset, changed and forever altered afterward. It took me days and days to even process what I had seen and felt and witnessed. It was truly phenomenal.



Probably the tone of my voice in the video below sums it up the best. I should be embarrassed to share this because I sound so shrill and crazy, but whatever. An eclipse will do that to you. As the darkness closed in, I felt an incredible jolt of fear. Coco was out in the field at J's parents' house climbing a tree and I yelled for him to get her and I went to grab Theo, who was poking around by the back door. I got the glasses on Theo so he could see the last crescent of sunlight gobbled up and then the darkness came so suddenly it was terrifying. Up until the actual totality snapped into place, it wasn't dark, it was just dim, like wearing very dark Ray-Bans, but not darkness. I trimmed our full video to make this one minute clip and I love Theo's face at the beginning and his total astonishment as he takes off the glasses. 




About 20 seconds in, it goes dark because all I could do was toss the phone down on the table and freak out. I looked over to see J jumping up and down and I was so overwhelmed with pure emotion and sheer feeling, I had to scream. I let out a woo-hoo and then immediately became aware of how totally silent everything was all around; every animal, every plant, everything seemed silent. At the end of this clip, I love how Coco, very excited and urgent, clearly remembering she wasn't supposed to be looking straight at the sun, asks for a pair of glasses!


I tried so hard to take it all in and take notice of everything, the drop in temperature, the 360 degree sunset effect, the stars coming out, the way the birds all flew away and hid and the streetlights came on and the wind picked up. But it was too much. It was such a completely sensory experience in every possible way that it was just too much to even take in. My video turned out pretty well considering I just held the phone and didn't actually pay attention to where it was pointing. I just stared up and around and up and marveled and somehow the video pointed there most of the time, too. And there was enough light for the video. The ring of light from the corona is so glittering and radiant as to cast a shadowy glow upon the earth and not leave us in total darkness. Though it was dark. It was amazingly dark. But wow. The halo of pure heat and energy around the sun is that potent. It simply blew my mind.


At the very end of the eclipse, as the moon slid off of the sun and let that first ray of light out again, daytime returned almost instantly. Immediately we had to put the glasses back on and the kids were spellbound and euphoric. Theo shouted, "I love it! AGAIN! It's morning time?!" and Coco donned the eclipse glasses and beamed at the reverse crescent of sun. The world was light again. Everything had gone back to normal, and absolutely nothing felt the same.

1 comment:

  1. We drove 9 hours from Pittsburgh to Hopkinsville, KY to experience totality and it was truly amazing! Glad you got to enjoy it as well! We are lucky and only ~3 hours from totality of the next one in 2024. :-D

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