What a cool day, for an eclipse to pass straight across the United States. For everyone here to get a good piece of this rare event.
Maybe most people are over it now that this was a few weeks ago, but I’m still reliving it in photos and memories. I used to be a science teacher, and I taught about eclipses many times. I’d seen photos (… and watched Heros…), I got the concept.
But nothing prepared me for how it would feel, in the twilight minutes right before and after, or in those moments of total darkness.
Andy and I both got to be in the line of totality in Oregon, and it was a perfectly clear sky. We had our incredibly fashionable ISO compliant eclipse glasses, and an extra pair we cut up to cover our camera lenses.
We’re just naturally this cool, don’t be jealous.
At the start, there was no way to tell that anything was happening without looking thorough the glasses. It’s striking just how much light the sun puts out — even with over half of the sun covered, I couldn’t see a visible difference in the brightness outside.
Though the glasses, though, everything was blacked out but the sun.
But then it steadily got dimmer. Not like when the sun goes behind a cloud, or like a sunset. The light around us just seemed different, surreal.
Through the glasses, I could suddenly see the movement that was too minuscule to track before — the sun and the moon crossing paths, closing in. It was drama like I’ve never seen before.
I felt it, too. It was getting chillier, and I grabbed my sweater while trying not to take my eyes off the sky.
And then the sun slipped fully behind the moon, and we were suddenly in total darkness. The only hint of the sun was ring of light gently radiating around the moon.
In that same moment, a cheer went up around us, nearby and far away. I felt all of us in the region must have been holding our breath, silent leading up to that moment, then let it out excitedly all at the same time.
We got almost 2 minutes in the line of totality, and it was among the fastest and most surreal 2 minutes I’ve experienced. I shivered and lifted my eclipse glasses to look around in the darkness and stare right up into the sky.
How would it have felt to live through this before the science and math behind eclipses were common knowledge?
I thought it was going to be cool, but it was unsettling and riveting in a way that’s hard to put to words.
If you have a chance to experience this, to stand in the line of a total eclipse and live its eerie wonder, just do it. Most eclipses in the near future are mainly over oceans, but we have another total eclipse crossing part of the US in 2024. It’ll be a Monday, it’ll cross from Texas to Maine, and the moments of totality will be up to almost 4.5 minutes. You can find all the details in this interactive map, including all times and durations.
I don’t usually like to get pushy about these things, but after this last one I know it would be wrong not to push for this next shot. I mean, like I said — I thought it would be cool, but wouldn’t have been bothered to miss it. But I think that would’ve been a mistake, and you can’t just get this one back.
Don’t believe me? Check out why a total eclipse is so uniquely awesome from someone else’s perspective.
If you have the chance, or can create the chance for yourself, make this next one happen.