Monday, August 21, 2017

Hodgepodge 296/365 - Eclipse

And today was the day so many of us have been waiting for, and planning for, and traveling for—and fearing the worst for re crowds and traffic and exhausted gas supplies and all manner of disasters that the media (fake news truly, in this case) have been pitching at us for weeks now.

David and I had originally planned to camp on the east side of the Cascades in Oregon, but then we realized we have a friend, Spencer, in Corvallis, and when we also realized that conditions in the Willamette Valley would most likely be primo, we invited ourselves up. Fortunately, he was more than happy to host us for a couple of days and experience the eclipse with us. He and, as it turned out, his mom and dad, Page and Steve, and granddad, Charles, visiting from Sacramento. And a couple of friends from Pacific Grove, Thelma and Charlie. Eight of us all together: a merry band.

This morning we set ourselves up in a virtually empty middle school sports field. (No crowds, no traffic.) And watched as the moon slid over the sun, and felt the cool wind, and sought out crescents in the leaf shadows, and watched as the colors changed and the light dimmed, and some of us even saw the shadow bands. Me, I was too intent looking through binoculars at the Baily's beads at that point. Can't see it all!

Photo courtesy of Dewitt Jones, via NASA

And then, totality! As pretty much always, I wept. I never can believe my eyes! Not ever! That black black hole in the sky surrounded by that pale, shimmering corona! The pink prominences! Venus, high in the sky! Mercury (I'm pretty sure), down near the horizon, winking at the fir trees at the edge of the field. And then oh man, it's always over too quick, but then, the diamond ring! (I missed the first one. But I saw the Baily's beads, dammit.)

Photo of some PINK PROMINENCES! by moshen

It was fun with this one to have texting and FB messaging and WhatsApp and to keep getting messages from friends who were similarly experiencing this magical phenomenon. And simply to know that people all over this country for once had put down their swords and were enjoying something miraculous all together, in peace. Experiencing awe. 

This was my fifth total eclipse (I wrote about the others here). It made me want to chase a few more. I know there's one coming up over this continent again in 2024, but what else might I dream about? Here are a few:

July 2, 2019, mostly in the south Pacific but extending onto southern South America (Chile, Argentina), maximum duration 4m33s
December 14, 2020, middle of eclipse is also over southern South America, max duration 2m10s
April 8, 2024, Mexico up through Texas, eastern U.S., and into eastern Canada, max duration 4m28s (see map)
August 12, 2026, Greenland, Iceland, Spain, max duration 2m18s
August 2, 2027, Morocco, Spain, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, max duration 6m23s
July 22, 2028, Australia, New Zealand, max duration 5m10s
November 25, 2030, Botswana, South Africa, Australia, max duration 3m44s

I'm delighted that so many people I love got to experience the eclipse today, either full (yay!!!!) or partial. For me, my first eclipse—for which, thanks to my friends Rose and Andy, who today were out in eastern Oregon, and who are now considering a trip with us to Morocco in 2027!—was life changing. I hope everyone who experienced totality today was at least a little tweaked. Will life ever be quite the same?


  1. No. Life is not the same, I agree. A lovely bit of writing here. Like you, I missed any bands but caught the beads and Venus. And the cooler temperatures, the hushed cicadas, the orange glow on the horizon, the myriad of half moon shadows through a colander, flocks of birds looking to roost, a few oohs, a few claps, and one man's incredulous, "No," repeated three times, each repetition with more awe in his, "No!" We're planning our next one too.

    1. I adore the man's incredulous "No. No! NO!" Thank you for sharing that! And I'm glad you got to see the glow on the horizon. Where we were there were trees all around, so that dome of darkness effect wasn't easy to see. (Plus, I forgot to look. As I said, can't see it all!)