This past Monday was a once in a lifetime total eclipse. We were fortunate enough to live right in the path of totality! We’ve been preparing for this day (August 21, 2017) for a few months now.
We were told that the protective glasses would sell out so to order early. I ordered my glasses in early July. I made sure we had enough for the extended family and was glad that we were all prepared. Then, about eight days before the eclipse, I got an email from Amazon.com saying that our glasses could be fake and not to use them! So, we went into search and find mode at that point. Everyone in town was sold out, but someone told my husband that Menards might have some. He gave Menards a call, and he was told that they had 500 glasses in stock. I couldn’t help but think that something wasn’t right if everyone else was sold out, but Menards had plenty.
My husband went to Menards, located the glasses, but could not find a manufacturer on the glasses. He gave me a call and we were talking about it on the phone. He even sent me a picture of the glasses, but all he could find on them was “Made in China.” A passerby heard my husband talking to me on the phone. He was a science geek and understood our concern. He told my husband that he lived close by and had bought a package of 50, so he would be glad to let us buy some from him at $2.50 a pair. They were made by one of the companies listed as safe by AAS, so we thought he should snatch them up. So, yes, my husband entered the home of a total stranger to buy our solar eclipse glasses!
My mother and I reminisced about the 1979 total eclipse. I was in school that day, and it was only a partial eclipse for our area. If there were viewing glasses at that time, we didn’t know about it. We made the cardboard shadow boxes and went outside during the eclipse to view it in our shoeboxes. I’m not sure what was more exciting, actually seeing the eclipse or the fact that my shoebox really did what it was supposed to.
We watched a couple of videos. We thought this one did a great job of explaining the various stages of the eclipse. I also downloaded the Solar Eclipse Timer app. It was totally worth the $1.98 that I paid for it. It gave you an audio warning of the various stages of the eclipse and told you what to look for. The developer did a great job making this app.
We were fortunate that we could watch the whole thing right from our front yard. It rained and rained all morning, but it stopped raining and cleared off ten minutes before the eclipse started. We dawned our eclipse t-shirts and glasses and went outside right before C1. The app counted down to contact time, we looked at the sun with our glasses, and really didn’t see anything. We noticed what we thought might be a little indentation in the upper right hand corner of the sun and thought that might be it. As we waited and watched, the indentation became bigger and bigger. The big moment was finally here!
It would be nearly an hour and a half before totality, but we were able to occupy our time with occasional looks at the sun and observing our surroundings. The lighting became dimmer and dimmer, but it was different than how the light gets dimmer at dusk. It was almost like the bad lighting of a soap opera.
At about fifteen minutes before totality, we walked around the corner and up to the top of a hill. There is a vacant field there and we wanted to have a good view of the 360 degree sunset.
It got quieter and quieter. By the time totality arrived the temperature had dropped several degrees, the birds had stopped chirping, the squirrels were quiet, the crickets started chirping, and small children had put themselves to bed. (It was wishful thinking, anyway).
Once totality was here, we were able to take our glasses off and look directly at the sun. The view of the sun’s corona was amazing, and something no camera could ever truly capture. It was very, very dark as if it were early nightfall. The street lights came on. It was truly an incredible event.
We had totality for two minutes. Once C3 started, we had to put our glasses back on to look at the sun again. The sun was a sliver once again, our surroundings slowly became lighter and brighter. And within a few minutes, the sky became completely overcast and we were no longer able to view the eclipse. We felt so grateful to not only be in the path of totality, but to also view as much as we did considering the weather. It rained for the rest of the day and throughout the night. There was record flooding all across town. We received a total of eleven inches of rain that day!
Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.