Total Solar Eclipse, 21 August 2017

Photo by our good friend Chad Roberts.*

This is what I wrote in my journal not long after we saw totality in our front yard for about 2 minutes 19 seconds:

That was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. I’m afraid that I’m so tired my brain is going to forget how it looked – black circle surrounded by glowing white flames, sunset colors along all horizons around us, very bright red planet to the south, very bright white planet above, dim star next to the sun, nearly dark, shadow bands along the sidewalk just before and after, the diamond ring as the totality ended. It was awesome and beautiful and amazing. When it hit totality, everybody started exclaiming and shouting like a much louder response to fireworks or something. The response almost seemed involuntary. Everyone said the animals would freak out, but it seemed like it was just the humans who freaked out. Really, it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. So beautiful and awesome and cool. I’m so glad there were a bunch of people here to experience it with us.

And later that day:

9:31 pm: More thoughts on the eclipse. It really is nothing like a partial eclipse. Even at 99%, it’s just a darker version of 60% or 45%, but then when totality hits, it’s a whole different thing and about 100 times cooler and weirder and more surreal. And it goes fast at the end – everything got darker and colder so fast. The temperature dropped (according to one of our guest’s thermometer) from 86F to 63F and it really did feel cold and took a while to warm up again.

We all keep talking about it every now and then. Everyone wants to see another one.

A friend on Facebook said this:

One of the most spectacular sights I have ever witnessed . Completely fills the heart and soul to the brim. The closest thing I can compare it to is birth, no words can describe the beauty or magnitude of seeing something so beautiful.

And my brother-in-law:

The #eclipse was one of the most interesting, impressive, unsettling, mind-blowing things I have ever witnessed. We are small and the world is a beautiful place.

I've seen a couple of partial solar eclipses and some lunar eclipses and they're pretty cool. I also remember my mom dragging all of us out of bed to see Halley's Comet in 1986 at some terrible early-morning hour. We've gone to the twice-yearly Star Party at Craters of the Moon in Idaho several times and benefitted from the generous amateur astronomers who haul their telescopes around and let people look through them. But for the most part, I wouldn't say I'm the type to go out of my way to see stuff in the sky. If our house hadn't been almost directly on the center line of totality for the total solar eclipse on August 21, I doubt that I would have travelled anywhere to see the totality. I wouldn't have wanted to deal with crowds or finding a place to stay or, heaven forbid, traffic. I stand corrected and will seriously consider traveling for a future total solar eclipse. We have our eye on one that will cross parts of the US on April 8, 2024.

Time and Date has some great information about solar and other eclipses, when they'll take place and where, etc.

The eclipse through a colander held over Char and Morgan's white car.

The other great thing about the eclipse and that it happened over our house was having family, friends, and strangers who became friends come stay at our house. That weekend we had 28 people staying with us. Our entire family was home, so the total number of people was 36. (Plus, Jon's brother and his family came Sunday afternoon, so for a little while, that number must have been about 40.) They slept in the house, in trailers, and in tents on the lawn.

Our driveway as a parking lot
Tents in the back yard.
Tents and trailers in the front yard.
Beyond the front yard. Awesome crocheted wheel covers by our new friend Vera
(you can see more of her lovely stuff on her Facebook page, Hats On.)

*Chad lives 1 1/2 miles from us and Seth was there during the eclipse helping him take photographs. He used both blue and orange filters for the partial eclipse phases. Sun spots show up better with the blue filter. Here's a post with more of his photos. Chad has a few prints still available for sale.


  1. Nice. Your description is pretty much what was in my brain that day as well.


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