Wow! I don’t do posts containing personal experiences very often, but I just had to share this one. A couple weeks ago, I talked about the upcoming total solar eclipse viewable across a large portion of the United States on August 21, 2017. This once in a lifetime type event was set to be the most viewed eclipse in human history.
The Difference Between a Partial & Total Eclipse
For those who don’t know, a total solar eclipse is different from a partial one. In a partial eclipse, the sun is never completely blocked by the moon and you have to wear eye protection to view it. A total solar eclipse does the same thing as a partial, but eventually the sun is completely blocked by the moon and you are able to view it with the naked eye and see the sun’s beautiful corona and some other pretty crazy phenomena.
Leading Up to the Eclipse
I was pretty darn excited about this eclipse for many months, and I made plans long ago to make sure that I would be in the path of the moon’s shadow. I left in the wee hours of the morning that day to make sure I arrived at my viewing location with plenty of time to spare.
As the sun rose, the skies were mostly clear with a few thin clouds speckled around. Toward late morning, thicker cumulus clouds began to build around the horizon as is typical in late summer. The clouds grew thicker as they built inward from 360 degrees all around. Stretches of blue sky right above had smaller clouds that would break off and float through. The sun remained shining bright most of the time with only a few clouds actually crossing over it.
The Partial Eclipse & Some Neat Effects
As early afternoon approached, the partial eclipse began an hour and a half before totality. I excitedly watched as the moon took its first bite out of the sun. I continued to check the progress as the sun soon became a large crescent shape. It’s really fascinating to watch! The clouds continued to build around me as about 75% of the sky was now covered. I was definitely worried they would eventually block the eclipse. It was very stressful!
About 30 minutes until totality, interesting things began to happen. It was a bit darker now, but just a little. The shadows of trees produced hundreds of tiny crescent shapes on the ground below as the sun shined through the leaves. They were beautiful. 10 minutes until totality, everything around me took on an eerie glow. It was a sort of greyish blue green color that was unlike anything I’ve seen before. The sun above was now a thin crescent shape.
I continued to worry as clouds floated by, but soon I became confident that my view of the sun was going to be clear despite being surrounded by nearby clouds. 5 minutes until totality, the greyish blue green lighting remained, but it began to noticeably darken. It was over 90 degrees and very humid, but the temperature started to drop. A few minutes before totality, I began to watch as the moon transformed the sun into a tiny crescent.
And then totality arrived as the last sliver of the sun was completely blocked by the moon. I removed my eclipse glasses to see that the sun now appeared black with the beautiful corona shining around it. The glowing corona was a soft, shiny white color that had a thick whispiness to it like it was alive. It was quite a sight! On the right side of the black sun, I could also see red spots, solar prominences, moving along the edge. It was very neat to see.
Looking around, day had suddenly turned to a deep twilight. The sky above was a dark blue color with sunset colors surrounding me from all sides closer to the ground. The sky was full of clouds that now had a pinkish orange color to them. The cicadas also began to sing loudly since they thought it was night. With the sun obscured, things now felt cooler and less humid. It was refreshing. Several planets could be seen including Jupiter and Venus as well as the star Regulus right next to the sun. People cheered when totality arrived as they took in the sight as well as took pictures and looked through telescopes.
Totality lasted 2 minutes and 18 seconds where I was. As the end of totality arrived, the right side of the black sun began to glow. Then a small bead of light with hints of colors burst forth creating what appeared to be a diamond ring in the sky. That bead was so beautiful with a light so pure that it is impossible to describe. Truly amazing! Then I had to put back on my glasses to watch as the crescent sun re-emerged on that side. Looking around, the sky had lit back up again like a switch had been flipped, and it had returned to that eerie greyish blue green color.
An Amazing Experience
The clouds around the sun were now gone, and the clouds surrounding the horizon began to decrease. It was so interesting how that abrupt change during the two minutes of totality really altered the weather. The partial eclipse then continued for another hour and a half before the moon went on its way. And with that, the total eclipse of the sun was over.
It was a truly remarkable experience that words and pictures do no justice for. I definitely think that everyone should see a total eclipse once in their life, so if you ever have one near you, make an effort to see it. It’s something that I and millions of others will remember for the rest of our lives.
P.S. – In case you were wondering, I didn’t end up getting transported back in time to the Goryeo era to meet a bunch of handsome princes. I haven’t decided yet if that is a good or bad thing 😉
*Images courtesy of NASA
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