Totality

So I happened to move to a place in the totality of the 2017 eclipse. It was certainly not a factor in the decision to move, but when I learned about it I was excited. I don't know nearly as much about astronomy as I would like, but I still enjoy it. I imagined myself driving slightly farther north to Rexburg, where it would be the best possible viewing.

Then I started hearing about how crazy other people were about this event. Phrases like "once in a century" were thrown around, and hotel rooms were supposedly going for $1,000 per night or more. Rumors started circulating that the city was expecting 500,000 people and hospitals were preparing for an influx of more patients. The city was even bringing in 5 life flight helicopters from Utah. Expectations were that driving up to Idaho the weekend before the eclipse would be awful.

Then I learned that I would be traveling to Las Vegas the week before, and would get home the night before the eclipse. Moreover, I would actually be flying into Pocatello and would have to somehow get home in crazy traffic Sunday night.

I kept an eye on the traffic while I was in Vegas, but it never seemed to get bad. And when we flew in on Sunday night, the freeway back to Idaho Falls was perfectly passable, if reasonably busy. So the doom predictions were a little off.

I live a few miles outside of town, and we were advised to work from home on eclipse day, so I don't really know what it was like in the downtown area on Monday. After the eclipse I know the freeway was backed up for the rest of the day, as those who arrived over the course of several days all left at the same time. But it was another Y2k situation in which the predicted apocalypse failed to materialize.

As for my experience with the eclipse itself, well, I expected it would be cool but not life altering. There was a lot I didn't understand. I knew that in Salt Lake they were supposed to have 92% coverage or something, so I didn't really understand how that compared to 100% coverage is like the difference between 0 and infinity. I also didn't really understand that it was a 2-hour event of the moon slowly covering and uncovering the sun; I was only thinking of the 2 minutes of totality. I heard things about the temperature cooling and animals going weird, but didn't see how 2 minutes would cause that.

Once it started we went outside every few minutes with eclipse glasses to monitor the progress of the moon covering the sun. I slowly started to notice a difference in the lighting outside, as it took on a dusky appearance. Several families gathered in a neighbor's yard with lawn chairs and children running around. As totality approached the air got surprisingly cool and breezy. Shadows began to appear sharply defined, and then to take on weird crescent shapes, particularly leaves.


There was a radio on, counting down the seconds to totality. And then it hit.

I can honestly say I have never seen any natural phenomenon that can compare to this. I'm not a world traveler by any means, but I've seen some awesome things in southern Utah, Hawaii, and even Korea. This was on such a large scale that it blew away anything I had seen.

I hadn't planned on taking photos, not having a "real" camera, but I couldn't help but see what my phone would capture. It failed to really represent anything, but here is the best shot I got.



Katie and I were trying to enjoy it while dealing with Clara being a little bit scared, and James also wanting to be held, so I wouldn't say I was able to enjoy it quite as much as I would otherwise, but it was an astonishing experience. I thought it was ridiculous of people to travel around "chasing" eclipses, but now I get it. They say when people travel to space and see the entirety of the Earth in front of them, it changes them and creates a bond between them and the rest of humanity that defies political, racial, and religious barriers. I feel like this experience gave me just a taste of that sensation. It really was incredible.




1 comments:

Lori said...

so glad you could experience totality. heard from anyone who did that it was an amazing experience. it was not as exciting from our view for sure. i wanted more darkness. so i had to appease myself by watching the NASA channel on my computer.

but i am not sure if it was coincidence that a couple of odd things happened at work that day. just a little off.