Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Once upon a time I was falling in love...

Today was a total solar eclipse which swept across the entire US. We are lucky to live close to the "swath" of totality. So we hopped in the car with chairs and food and headed two and a half hours north on I-95 to Santee, SC. Our plan was to park in the rest area at milepost 99 and have a picnic. Oh, the best laid plans. The rest area was closed, because it was filled to capacity with other like minded people. So we drove to the next exit and drove on a two lane road past two campgrounds along a lake. We saw a family sitting in a small field in front of an apartment complex and under a large shady tree. We pulled in and asked if we could join them.

In the next few minutes our area had about 20 cars and a friendly group of people and a few dogs. One great guy and his son from Florida set up a 8" telescope with solar filter that they invited everyone to peer through. You could see the sun so clearly and sun spots too.

 The day was hot, but perfect viewing weather and few clouds that did not obscure our view. We sat in the shade and ate our lunch while we waited. Around us people had many ways of viewing the eclipse in addition to "eclipse glasses."

Looking into a tub of water.

Cereal box with aluminum foil.

Binoculars with solar filters.

Finally the moon started to block the sun. It was exciting to see as the sun shrank to a small crescent and then it was totally covered. The sky grew dusky, Venus appeared brightly shining and crickets started to chirp. A few buzzards appeared overhead, confused and heading to their nighttime roosts. There was a noticeable temperature drop and even the clouds lowered in the sky due to thermal loss. we imagined how terrifying this would have been to ancient peoples. And how incredible that scientists could tell us exactly when this would happen - to the minute!

 We all took off our eclipse glasses and stared at the darkened sun with its glowing corona. Looking though the telescope was amazing.

As soon as the moon moved enough to show a sliver of sun the daylight reappeared. we packed up our things and headed home. It took a half hour to get back to I-95 and then another five hours to get home. The highway was completely blocked so we detoured through Charleston which was just as bad. But it was all worth it as we experienced an incredible sight that will never be forgotten.