Sometimes 2% IS a Big Deal

Winston Salem, North Carolina
August 22, 2017 6:41pm CST
Those of you who regularly read my mental musings here on MyLot will recall that I had a bit of fun at my husband’s expense in a post last week. I accused him of being an over achiever just because he made the effort to plan to travel to the path of totality for yesterday’s eclipse, even though we expected a 98% eclipse in our own back yard. Turns out he actually had a point. Sometimes 2% CAN make a huge difference. Yesterday afternoon temperatures were scaldingly hot on the sunny flagstone patio beside our rental cottage when my husband reminded us that it was time for the eclipse to begin. I dutifully picked up my ISO certified eclipse glasses and left my shady spot on the porch to go take a peek at the sun. Sure enough, a tiny little nibble was missing from the edge of the sun. Big deal. I retreated back to the shade. Over the next hour or so I occasionally ventured back out to take another peek, but each time the oppressive heat drove me back to the relative cool of the shade. Then suddenly it didn’t feel quite so oppressively hot, and the world around us looked like we were in a night scene in an old movie; where they’ve used a filter to make a daytime shot look like night (usually with limited success). Since it was no longer quite so uncomfortable I stayed glancing up through the glasses regularly to observe the progress of the moon across the face of the sun. With every glance the bright crescent visible through the glasses became smaller and smaller. Fifteen minutes before the predicted time of totality one of the girls started regularly announcing how much time was left. The crescent continued to shrink until it was the merest sliver. A thin cloud scurried across the scene dimming the light even more, but that remaining sliver lingered. And lingered. Eventually the countdown reached 30 seconds. At this point the eclipse had reached 99%, and a small sliver of the sun was still visible. In the next 30 seconds we saw the diamond ring effect as the sliver shrank to a small point, and when we glanced at the white towel spread on the ground (without looking through the glasses of course) we saw the writhing shadows known as “shadow snakes” and then suddenly we could no longer see anything through our eclipse glasses and the world around us had grown dim. We put down the glasses knowing that we had a scant 2 minutes 38.4 seconds until the second diamond ring effect would demand that we go back to observing through our eclipse glasses. With mountains behind us and to each side we could only see the spectacular colours of sunset to the southwest, even though they would have been visible in every direction had our view not been obstructed. Around us the world had grown night time dark. The temperature dropped even further; the woods were quiet; and at some point the solar lights around the patio had turned themselves on. Above us was a black circle surrounded by a swirling halo of white light and a handful of stars were visible scattered across the sky above us. The scene was incredible and the five of us all sat in awe of the tremendous event occurring right over our heads. Someones phone alarm announced that 2.5 minutes had passed and it was time to put our eclipse glasses between us and the sun once again, just as the second diamond ring of light banished the night time darkness. We watched as the sliver lengthened and once again formed a crescent that continued to grow. It was a memorable event, and even the skeptics among us (that would be me) are convinced that making plans to be in the path of totality when another total eclipse makes it’s way across the continent, is entirely worth the time and effort. My husband took the photo that I’ve attached to this post, this is essentially what we saw with uncovered eyes during the totality...but it doesn’t really do the scene justice since most of the stars aren’t showing up, and the sunset colours on the horizon didn’t show up in the frame at all.
16 people like this
13 responses
• United States
23 Aug
Well I have to give that man much credit, your husband!! Look at that photo and your writing about it Joanne, I could picture this and myself there when you were describing the shadow snakes on the ground and the stars oh my this was fantastic!! Thanks so very much for sharing this wow moment with us here.
3 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
23 Aug
Thanks, Tiara! It was very much a wow moment for all of us! And luckily for us the 2024 eclipse will be passing over areas where we either have family (the area I grew up) or have family planning to move in the next year or so.
3 people like this
• United States
23 Aug
@Platespinner Roll on 2024 then Joanne I am so glad you got to be where you were when this was happening.
2 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
23 Aug
@TiarasOceanView My husband was a wise man when he booked our cabin back when no one (including the chamber of commerce of "Totality Town") seemed to know that a total eclipse would be crossing the USA.
2 people like this
@just4him (109873)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
22 Aug
That's totally awesome that you got to see the totality! Love the picture. We only got 60% here, but I did see it on television and it was spectacular!
2 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
23 Aug
My husband got some phenomenal photos...of course he took over 1400 (he had his camera set up to take one every 6 seconds) so there were bound to be some good ones in the mix.
2 people like this
@just4him (109873)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
23 Aug
@Platespinner That one is great! I saw how some people had their phones attached to the telescope for the best pictures. Is that what he did too?
2 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
23 Aug
@just4him he had his SLR camera setup on a tripod with a homemade filter (the same stuff the official glasses were made of) and set his camera to an ongoing series of photos. We have a telescope but left it at home since the thing is huge.
2 people like this
@UncleJoe (9469)
• Virginia Beach, Virginia
23 Aug
The eclipse was unforgettable!
2 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
23 Aug
1 person likes this
28 Aug
Hahaha...and the pose is epic
1 person likes this
@xFiacre (4263)
• Ireland
22 Aug
@platespinner its the deathly hush and sudden drop in temperature that gets me and makes it feel creepy. Still spectacular though.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
22 Aug
Cicadas don't really care whether it's day or night, though they did get significantly quieter as the temperature dropped. It was VERY eerie!
1 person likes this
@xFiacre (4263)
• Ireland
22 Aug
@Platespinner Cicadas are so aesthetically insensitive don't you think?
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
22 Aug
@xFiacre I'm just glad they usually hang out in groups and as such aren't nearly as disruptive of my sleep as that lone cricket that occasionally hides in my bedroom.
@kepweng (11268)
28 Oct
nice shot its is realy amazing beautiful gorgeous moon mixed with the sun do you wear Eye glasses when Staring at eclipse??
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
28 Oct
Everyone in the family had special eclipse glasses. Looking at the sun without using a very dark filter is not a good idea.
• Canada
23 Aug
I can't wait to experience totality in 7 years!
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
23 Aug
I hope you have clear skies that day. Totality is AMAZING!!!
@Susan2015 (20161)
• United States
23 Aug
What a great photo. And you saw a lot more than we did here.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
23 Aug
We took a risk, weather could have blocked our view entirely, but we were blessed with a phenomenal experience.
@vandana7 (62379)
• India
23 Aug
First and foremost, the picture is spectacular. To me it signifies...even around the pitch darkness, there is some shade of hope that makes everything beautiful so hang in there.
1 person likes this
@thelme55 (13984)
• Germany
23 Aug
Wow! Look at that amazing photo! Stunning! Your discussion is awesome. You describe the eclipse that I can imagine how it looked like. Well done!
@andriaperry (46375)
• United States
23 Aug
94% was most certainly not dark at all, it just looked like dusk outside.
@GardenGerty (96668)
• Marion, Kansas
23 Aug
What an awesome family experience you had.
@Srbageldog (8216)
• United States
23 Aug
That's awesome you and your family got to experience that. I bet you're glad your husband insisted on traveling so you could experience the total eclipse! Thank you for sharing your experience -- I felt like I was right there with you experiencing it. Maybe next time. My partner and I are talking about visiting friends in Ohio in 7 years the next time there is a solar eclipse, as we won't see it here in California but they will be in the path of totality.
• United States
23 Aug
I was able to glance at it for a few minutes using the glasses that my friend had. It was quite a neat event.