Umbraphile

Once again the sun used its 93 million mile cue stick to line up the moon with the continental US and I was on the other end to see the magnificent results.

My earlier blog post recalling the 1979 eclipse which I saw in Winnipeg, Canada has gotten consistent traffic, and quite a bit more in the weeks leading up to August 21st. On a personal level, I had been doing my best to convince people to do everything possible to situate themselves within the band of totality, which in my case began barely 10 miles from my house. I likened settling for a nearly-total partial eclipse to going to see a great concert but just standing in the parking lot instead.

My initial ideas for watching The Great American Eclipse started out with Washington, MO, but then changed to St. Clair, MO, which changed to Desoto, MO, then changed to Hematite, MO…when it became apparent that we were going to have a huge influx of people (and traffic), we eventually looked closer to home. We “invited ourselves” to our friends’ home in New Melle, MO, where we would have ~1:49 of totality. Both Mo and K took the day off, and we were also pleased that many our our Sunday School class also planned to attend.

We left early the morning of the eclipse, not knowing what traffic would be like. It turns out our fears were unfounded, as traffic at least in the direction we travelled was not affected at all. As we all began arriving, our hosts the Pikes and their dog Moses made us feel at home with a large spread of breakfast goodies supplemented with drink and food items we’d all brought to contribute as well.

We flipped between the NASA channel and local channels on the TV up until we had first contact (about 11:48 AM) and we began putting our various eclipse glasses, welder’s goggles, and pinhole boxes to work. We were quite pleased to have only a light cloud cover — certainly not enough to be a problem, although it was pretty humid and in the low 90s out by that point.

While waiting for totality, we paid attention to the changing shadows, and the light quality dimmed, dropping noticeably in stages the last few minutes before second contact.


Ava and Moses check out the crescent shadows on the sidewalk

Totality was new to everyone but me at our gathering, so there was quite a few shouts of amazement as the diamond ring faded to a bright ring and I reminded everyone that the eclipse glasses could come off, with the corona looking surprisingly as predicted. Using what I’d learned since the 1979 eclipse, I quickly went to my binoculars (I played it safe by not waiting until later when it got closer to third contact), which showed a nice red glow of prominences across the “top” of the sun. In addition, I’d learned that the five seconds before and after totality were still within safe limits for the naked eye, so as I warned everyone when I noticed the beginning of a diamond ring following third contact, I took in a couple seconds of it before donning my eclipse glasses. We were told that temps dropped ~9° throughout the eclipse. We also noticed the cicadas and crickets did in fact chime in for a while. Moses on the other hand didn’t seem to care one way or another.


intrepid eclipse watchers

The one regret I have is not having a working digital camera ready to take along, so I don’t have any personal photos of the eclipse itself, but like my first eclipse, I’m not likely to forget what it looked like. I’m pretty sure that all of us will want to try see the 2024 eclipse (not quite as conveniently located, east of us in Illinois) as a result of our experience with this time around. I know I do.

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