My apologies, if you are someone who looks forward to this blog each week. Last week we were traveling and this week has been super busy with the start of the school year and my attempts to complete another book. I am still extremely busy, but I wanted to write about our Eclipse 2017 experience from about an hour ago.
I intended to take the day off, but was denied. Plans had to change. We, as educators, say we must monitor and adjust. Sometimes this is simple, sometimes not. We live in Rock Hill, SC, about 40 miles from totality. With this being the first solar eclipse I would actually remember, I really wanted to experience it, with my family, in totality. The boys each had a half-day at school, so once they were released we would drive south. Where, exactly? I did not know, but we would use the compass on the rearview mirror to ensure that we were driving south, and stop somewhere that we saw other people gazing at the sky or once the odometer indicated that we had travelled at least 40 miles. (This is not my usual way of traveling.) The boy's aunt joined us and we headed out to see the eclipse. We were equipped with a Bluetooth thermometer, an old cell phone and 5 pairs of eclipse glasses.
Listening to NPR, we could hear crowd sounds and interviews when Oregon was in totality. Our excitement grew. We stopped for snacks around 1:30pm and tried out our glasses for the first time--the moon was definitely beginning to block the sun. The sun looked like a cookie with a bite missing. We kept driving. The scientist in me wanted to video it. I popped the lens out of the spare pair of glasses to make a filter for my phone camera. As we drove south, the boys would glance out the window to check the progress of the eclipse. Our excitement grew. We reached a point--doing our periodic checks and listening to others' accounts on the radio, when I said, I just feel like we need to pray. My son asked, why. I couldn't explain, and I don't recall what I said, but I prayed. We reached a school in Union, SC where people were gathered in the front parking lot. We decided to stop there.
Out of the car, we kept glancing up (with eclipse glasses, of course) and the sky was cloudy. We were afraid we would not be able to see totality as a large cloud would block our view. Zach blamed karma...I said, "No, I think it's just chance. Or maybe it's God's way of protecting us so that we will still have eyesight this time next week." As the cloud moved past, we could see the light on the ground increase, but we could also tell that the ground was not as sunny as it had been prior to the cloud. Nick noticed our shadows had changed, and that the exterior lights on the school, likely controlled by light sensors, had come on. I was overwhelmed with all of the changes that I needed to remember, so I grabbed an ink pen to start making a list. In SC, we are familiar with the crescent moon on our state flag, but today we saw the crescent sun. Crickets were beginning to chirp, and the temperature was dropping. In the next few minutes, the crescent sun became a minute slither of sun, but the amount of light still striking the earth was mind-boggling. It was like 8pm evening sunlight--with 90% of the sun's light blocked. (That was a lot of light from a little bit of sun!) We began to see shadows of waves rapidly flowing across the pavement. I am not sure what that was--maybe the streaks of clouds being evaporating in the heat of the sun. Whatever it was, gave me an indescribable feeling--Awe! Wonder! Amazement! The boys and their aunt were shrieking and screaming! Then it happened. The moon COMPLETELY aligned with the sun. Completely! Ahh--the corona! The sun glowed boldly in the background absolutely refusing to be blotted out. Seconds later, the diamond ring. A tiny speck of sunlight on the right side glistened like a million floodlights all focused in one spot. Thank the Lord for eclipse glasses!
Ever so slowly, the crescent sun appeared on the other side and our shadows became more pronounced. The temperature began to rise and the crickets stopped chirping. My heart started beating again, but now exhausted, I wanted to sit on the ground. Engines began the start and the crowd began to disperse. Into the car we climbed and back to Rock Hill we drove. Wow, just wow! Nick asked if we could go to Indianapolis in 2024 to see the next one. Zach, who seems to think everything his parents do for him is stupid, said, "Mom, I'm glad we drove down here, because I don't think it would have been the same in Rock Hill! And I really didn't want to come!" I've learned to take my parental kudos from him any way I can get them.
The biggest surprise for me was the degree of darkness. I have heard that during an eclipse it gets dark. I studied the maps and saw the locations where there would be totality and various percentages of partiality. I expected that in totality, it would be midnight dark--like so dark I wouldn't be able to see my hand stretched out in front of me. That was not the case. It was dark like 8:45pm in the summer dark, not midnight dark. I pondered on this as I drove home and a scripture came to mind. John 1:5 "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." Amen.
Our cell phone photos do not do justice to the experience, but here they are!
If you like this style of writing, you will enjoy Turn North: A 30-Day Devotional and Journal written by the author of this blog.