EclipseTrip2017 – TOTALITY

The eclipse would play out as follows:

(C1) – Contact 1; Start of Partial Eclipse; 10:24 a.m.

(C2) – Contact 2;  Start of Total Eclipse;  11:45 a.m.

Max – 11:46 a.m.

(C3) – Contact 3;  End of Total Eclipse;  11:47 a.m.

(C4) – Contact 3; End of Partial Eclipse;  1:12 p.m.

The total event would therefore last for about 2 hours and 45 minutes with the main event, TOTALITY, lasting for nearly 2 and half minutes.

The eclipse started right on time – isn’t science cool!  The partial eclipse begins very slowly, taking a peek every five minutes or so, the motion of the moon is barely perceptible and takes about 20 minutes before a sizeable chunk of the sun becomes obscured.  Until the sun is about half covered there isn’t really anything noticeable to the naked eye.  But from this point on, it slowly starts to get darker.  As more of the sun is obscured the one really noticeable item is the shadows.  Normally, shadows are somewhat fuzzy as the light comes from all directions.  As the crescent sun narrows, the light comes from mainly one direction and the shadows become very crisp and makes the environment appear almost artificial.

As the crescent sun shrinks to nothing the speed becomes apparent and you can actually see the moon overtaking the sun.  The darkness begins to deepen and without the sun’s rays beating down the temperature drops noticeably.  And then…

Darkness!

Now it’s safe to remove the solar viewing glasses and look upon a view that is otherworldly.  This is not normal.  Stars appear.  Planets appear.  In daytime.  Turning around three hundred sixty degrees it is sunrise and sunset simultaneously all around.  In the sky there is a hole where the sun existed moments ago.  Extending from this hole is the glowing atmosphere of our life-supporting star.  It is absolutely beautiful and

AMAZING!  AWESOME!  STUNNING!  BREATH-TAKING!

While totality approaches the crowd was very excited.  Lots of cheering and hooting and hollering.  As totality occurred there was a tremendous cheer.  It takes a few moments to then remember it’s safe to look with the naked eye.  So as people take off the glasses there are gasps and oohs and ahhs followed by silence and then quiet whispers as if in a moment of reverence.  Then the voices return with the joy and excitement of the moment.

And then it’s over.  As suddenly as darkness overtook us the light reappears as the moon continues its path across the sun.  The world begins to return to normal.  The partial eclipse will continue for over an hour but we’ve seen this all before.  Time to pack it up and head for home.

I have seen a partial solar eclipse and an annular solar eclipse previously.  While these are fascinating in their own rights, they pale in comparison to totality.  If you should think seeing the sun obscured by 90% or 95% or 97% is good enough, I can tell you that you’re mistaken.  Someone recently put like this:  a 97% eclipse is like driving 300 miles to get to the beach and then turning around 6 miles from your destination because it’s “close enough”.  You must see Totality to truly experience an eclipse.

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