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Total Eclipse 2024- The Sky Just Did WHAT?!

Total Eclipse 2024-  The Sky Just Did WHAT?!

Our last minute trek to see the total solar eclipse of 2024.

I wasn't planning to view the eclipse totality, I kind of figured the 96.6% we would see from our backyard would be cool enough, but two days before, Ian decided we should make the trek and see the full deal. It was a couple hours drive, and by some serendipity, when we stopped for gas we bumped into friends headed to the same small town of Erroll, New Hampshire , so we decided to meet in the same field. (We all had the same idea of avoiding the bigger towns, and the associated traffic.) 


It was a couple of hours to get there; we brought a cooler full of snacks, sunscreen, and our eclipse glasses and found our friends straight away. It was warm, and the skies couldn't have been more clear. When we arrived, we still had a bit more than an hour before the moon's shadow would begin to cover the sun, and about two hours until the totality.  
Cars lined the usually empty, rural roads for miles before we reached our field. There was a single, small house visible across from the field. Small groups of people were scattered throughout the field, without feeling crowded. There was a relaxed sense of anticipation, with people standing around or sitting in camp chairs, and children running here and there.  In retrospect, I’m pretty sure none of us really knew what to expect. I’ve seen a couple of partial eclipses, but never before been in the path of totality. 


As the moon began to cover the sun, we’d watch through our glasses every few minutes, and take the occasional picture. Everything still seemed pretty familiar. As the moment of totality approached, the temperature cooled, and folks began to don sweaters and jackets. In the last moments before the sun was completely covered, the sky grew darker, like late dusk, then the totality occurred, and we were abruptly dropped into night.  


I removed my eclipse glasses, now that it was safe to do so, and... I’m not sure I can really describe it. I’ve seen pictures of a total eclipse, so I had an idea what the sun would look like, but they don’t capture the feeling of the moment. It was surreal. Nothing I’ve ever experienced had prepared me for this moment; it felt so otherworldly, like we had been transported to an alternate reality that looked similar to ours but behaved so differently. Something in my animal brain could not make sense of it, even though my rational brain understood what was happening. The sun was black, with shimmering light escaping around the edges (which is really sunlight reflecting off the edges of the moon, and why we can look at the total eclipse without damaging our eyes). I didn’t expect the sky to still look so blue, even in the darkness; and the horizon was lit up on either side of us like the sunrise was occurring in both places at once. I found myself repeating how amazing it was. I was overwhelmed with awe. 


We had just over two minutes to enjoy this once in a lifetime view, and as the moments ticked away, I put my eclipse glasses back on to watch the sun reemerge. We were all so excited to have seen this rare, natural phenomenon, and the company of friends made it an even better experience.  


We were less talkative on the drive home. Occasional observations interjected long stretches of silence while we each processed the day. In the two days since, I’ve found myself continuing to crave silence. The impact of witnessing this marvel is in my thoughts almost constantly. Last night I woke up thinking about it and lay in bed ruminating for almost two hours before finding sleep once more. 


I’ve heard of people who travel the world to witness the eclipse as often as they can, and until Monday I didn’t understand it. Now I think I do. I don’t know if I’ll be able to see another total eclipse in my lifetime, but if you find yourself able to see an eclipse in its totality, I urge you to make the effort, take the time, go see it for yourself. Of the many incredible and breathtaking moments in my life, this one now sits at the top of the list.  


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