Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

I started this blog in 2010, and to date, I believe all 229 blog posts related to virtual desktops, apps and workspaces. However, I’m going to diverge for a single blog because I experienced something truly amazing… The total solar eclipse of 2017.

I’m an amateur astronomer, so any time I can witness a celestial event, I’m going to be watching. Seven years ago, I was already planning on taking a road trip to experience the eclipse (yes, I’ve been waiting that long). But for this event, I dragged my entire family on a 34 hour road trip covering 2200 miles spread over 10 days, through 8 states to experience 2 minutes and 1 second of totality in Nashville, TN.

I had many people, including my family, ask why are we going so far when we could stay home and witness 86% of the sun covered. A total eclipse of the sun is a completely different experience than 86% coverage or even 99% coverage, at least that is what I’ve come to understand from the reading I’ve done. I’ve never had the opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse, so I wasn’t going to waste this opportunity.

We made it a big family summer vacation stopping at

  • Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay, WI
  • Taking a ferry across Lake Michigan
  • Camping in Ludington, MI and Point Beach, WI
  • Sailing on Lake Erie
  • Touring Mammoth Cave in Kentucky
  • Hiking Shawnee National Forest and seeing a fire breathing dragon in Illinois

But this trip was building up to a single event, the August 21st total solar eclipse. When the day arrived, I work up early, full of energy and excitement.  I had to burn off the energy so I went for a slow 3 mile run, and I mean slow because the heat and humidity in Nashville is too much for my Minnesota blood.  Afterwards, we met up with friends at their campsite and got ready for the main event.

11:58: First Contact
Everyone thought first contact was interesting, especially the kids as many have never seen a partial solar eclipse..

12:20: 25%
A little more of the sun is covered. Not super interesting for anyone but me. Adults and kids looked quickly then went back out to the lake.

12:45: 50%
We’re getting more excited as we know we are getting closer to totality. There are clouds on the horizon that are concerning, but nothing we can do about it so we try to ignore them.

1:06: 75%
It got dark, but only because of a cloud temporarily covered the sun. It was funny as people got excited that it was time for totality.

However, at this point as we walked through the forest, the excitement grew as we started to see the eclipse on the ground. The leaves on the trees created hundreds of pinhole projects of the eclipse for all to see.  Everyone thought this was really cool.

1:21: 95%
Something isn’t right at this point. My skin doesn’t feel so hot from the sun. In fact, I don’t feel any significant heat of the sun. And although it is still bright, the brightness doesn’t seem normal. Colors seem more vibrant, probably because the sun isn’t creating the normal harsh glare.

1:27: Totality

Ever experienced something you couldn’t take your eyes of off? This was it. I could not look away. I’ve never seen anything like it. It is hard to describe the experience. You see rays of the sun’s corona emanating from a black hole in the sky. It looks fake because it is so very strange. As I looked closer at the corona, I could make out a red solar flare on the bottom right edge of the sun. Awesome

I’ve read history books that said people thought the world was ending during total solar eclipses. It is easy to understand why after experiencing one.

It immediately got dark, but the darkness of the campsite was spooky and strange. This darkness wasn’t normal. It didn’t look right. I can’t explain it, but it wasn’t a normal darkness.

It got loud. Not from us humans, who were cheering with oohs and ahs, but from the forest animals who were going crazy.

I couldn’t move. I barely blinked. I barely breathed. But my heart was pounding. In fact, my activity tracker shows during totality my heart was beating almost as fast as my morning run.

1:29: Totality Ends

With the eclipse over, everyone was stunned by the experience. The forest was quiet again as the animals went back to their normal habits. And it still took over 30 minutes until we started to feel the heat of the sun again.

Was it worth it:
People say photos of the Grand Canyon can’t truly convey the enormity of the site.  A total solar eclipse takes this to a whole new level because although you can take a trip to the Grand Canyon anytime, a total solar eclipse doesn’t happen very often and it is usually in an inconvenient location. Photos, videos and articles simply don’t do the experience justice. You have to immerse yourself into the experience.

You might think because of my interest in astronomy that I was more excited than most. So, once we made it back to Minnesota, I asked my kids “Was the road trip worth it?” Every one of them said, very enthusiastically, “YES”. I then asked if they are going to join me in Texas for the April 2024 total solar eclipse with totality being twice as long as 2017. They all said “YES”!

I encourage everyone to take the time and experience totality. If you aren’t amazed by the experience, it probably means you’re dead.

Daniel (Follow on Twitter @djfeller)

5 thoughts on “Total Solar Eclipse of 2017”

  1. It was absolutely worth witnessing this event. We drove over 1600 miles round trip to and from southern Idaho (just outside of Rexburg) and witnessed the total solar eclipse in all its glory under clear skies. During totality, the 360-degree sunset that was visible extending around the entire horizon was very memorable, as was being able to see Venus higher in the sky than normally ever possible with the unaided eye, along with of course numerous other bright stars. That very unique twilight was unless anything else, not like a sunset and not like being in the light of a full moon. Indeed, after having seen a half dozen or so partial solar eclipses, they pale by comparison to the experience of one of totality.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.