Bro has been talking about the 2017 total solar eclipse for at least three years. Nearly two years ago, he reserved hotel rooms in Perryville, Missouri. Just off the interstate, so in case it got cloudy, we could drive to a location with clear skies.
On August 21, Bro got up at 5 a.m. to check various weather apps and decide if a move was necessary, and where we should trek to. By 6:30, we were heading down to my Toyota Sienna (affectionately nicknamed Moby Dick) to load it up with telescopes, binoculars, cameras, chairs, tables, and coolers before wolfing down breakfast and driving to Eddyville, Kentucky.
Around 10 a.m, Bro and George, aided by Bro’s Bride, George’s wife Bonnie, and me, were setting up equipment, including Bro’s specially-fitted telescope and George’s mega-fabulous binoculars. Our hosts for the occasion were the lovely people at Eddyville United Methodist Church. Unlike the gougers in Hopkinsville, Kentucky ($200 for a 10’x10′ space in a WalMart parking lot? Please!), the Methodists’ expectations were modest and their hospitality generous. For $10 they provided parking, real rest rooms, a pair of eclipse glasses, water, and a box lunch.
And lest I forget, the box lunches contained:
According to Bro, a total solar eclipse is the most impressive natural phenomenon most people ever report seeing. I had my doubts. I’d seen partial eclipses before. They were nice.
He was right, though. A total eclipse is a whole other ball game.
Bro reported first contact around 11:55 a.m.
Now. This is why you need to plan for the next total solar eclipse (for me, that will be in 2024). The above picture (taken during totality, when Bro was able to remove the filter from the telescope) is pretty nice. If you look really hard, you can see the reddish prominences at roughly the three- and five-o’clock positions. Sadly, this shot doesn’t approach what it feels like to look up just after you’ve whipped off your eclipse glasses (only safe during totality). The prominences were more…well, prominent, and there was one more prominence visible, which didn’t show up well in any picture I saw.
The barking dogs, chirping crickets, sudden darkness, temperature drop, and the delighted oohs, ahs, laughs, and applause of those around you just don’t show up your smartphone photos. And the diamond ring–the flash that occurs just as totality ends–can only be fully enjoyed in real time (even accompanied, as it was for me, by the little frisson of panic when I realized I’d better shield my eyes fast; I guess I looked away quickly enough because my vision remains undamaged).
There was real camaraderie among strangers. Bro and George were everyone’s best friends. People enjoyed Bro’s eclipse soundtrack and loved the telescope and binoculars outfitted with solar filters.
- Knowledgeable eclipse buddies can’t be beat. Make friends with an astronomer today!
- If you live in North America, start thinking about where you want to be on April 8, 2024.