I looked at him and knew exactly how he felt...I've wanted to see a total eclipse my entire life...To experience darkness for over two minutes at mid day...to see the moons shadow stretch across the sun...to witness the burst of light of the 'Diamond Effect'....yep! I wanted to see it....LIVE....but I'm an adult...
"Seriously, Bud? You want me to drive over five hours to watch the eclipse when there are NASA videos posted online of what it will look like anywhere in the U.S.?" The adult in me needed to make the decision here. "We will be able to see the eclipse right outside our door. I have a preschool teacher work day on the 22nd at 8:30 am and you have school."
"The shadow will only cover 92% of the sun here, Mom. We have to be in the path of totality. PLEASE, Mom. I'll drive some of the way. If we go to Kentucky it'll only be about five hours down and five back."
"Ten hours of driving for an 8% difference?" I had to give him a hard time even though at this point the little kid in me had conquered my adult side and I had decided to go.
"You know you want to see it, Mom...it's a once in a life time thing."
"I saw a partial eclipse back in the 90s And...in seven years another solar eclipse will occur with the path of totality in our back yard." I tried really hard to contain the smile that was spreading across my face.
"You know, Mom...It could be cloudy in 2024...." He started to grin because he knew he had me.
"It could be cloudy in Kentucky on Monday," I was already developing a plan to pack my camera, a cooler, lawn chairs, and make a pin hole projector.
"Can we go ...PLEASE?"
I waited two days and checked with the school---traveling to watch the eclipse was an excused absence. I was thrilled the little kid in me had the opportunity to override the adult part of me "Check the path of totality, Bud. We want to go to a place where there isn't going to be a ton of people....not Hopkinsville."
He researched little towns just off the highways and decided on Princeton, KY. It didn't take much persuasion to get my husband and one of my daughters to come. My other daughter is at college already and I know she would have loved to have gone with us.
Monday morning we left at 5:00am to give us plenty of time to get there for the start at 12:00CDT. The forecast was sunny and hot...no clouds! We made it to a super center parking lot in Princeton by 10:30 CDT--- along with hundreds of others. The store manager walked around and told all of people that they would overlook the loitering law. They even passed out solar glasses to folks who didn't have them. We played cards, did a little shopping, and then got ready for the celestial show.
"It's starting!" A tiny edge of the sun had started to hide behind the moon. Everyone had on their solar glasses and some people---including me---used mirrors to reflect the sunlight on to a white board. We had fun looking at the sun through the glasses. We also reflected the image on a white board with a mirror and watched the sun slowly hide behind the moon.
We knew totality was coming to the end when we saw the upper right side of the sun begin to bulge. The Diamond Effect was coming....the brilliant flash of sunlight peaking out from behind the shadow....the end of totality. I heard my son shout..."Here it comes!" I pressed the shutter of my camera and caught a glimpse of the dazzling sunlight shooting out from behind the moon's shadow. It flashed for a mere split second and was the most incredible thing I've ever seen in the sky. The 'Ooohs' and 'Ahhhas' of onlookers filled the air. It was truly a once in a life time experience. And.....here are the pictures I took.
At preschool's meet the teacher night, one of my student's parents showed me a picture he had taken here in Indiana. It was cloudy during the 92% eclipse so there wasn't much to see in the sky...but take a look at what he captured on the ground. The sunlight filtered through the trees and created crescent shadows. Incredible!
No matter what the weather will bring in 2024, I'll have these pictures. Big thanks to my son for bringing out the inner kid in me in 2017.
Happy celestial gazing.