I can’t think of a better way to describe it. I sure hope you got to see today’s eclipse. The morning began with heavy fog in W. Nebraska with a forecast for partly sunny skies later in the morning. After studying satellite cloud photos, a move further to the west to near the Wyoming border seemed a good move. We headed for Alliance, Nebraska and started looking for a place to pull off the road about 8 miles south. Totality would last about 2 1/2 minutes there.
We got a lucky break, when we spotted a large farm that offered parking for a modest fee in their zillion-acre field. We happily paid to get a quiet, beautiful place and pulled our cars up to neatly arranged hay bales and parked under virtually cloudless, blue skies.
The first half of the eclipse was easy and fun to watch with little change in daylight. Nice to see the moon bite into and cover the many sunspots! My brother Dan played eclipse-and-darkness-related tunes while serving up Bloody Marys. To my surprise, the change in daylight was obvious as early as 80% partial eclipse. This was even more pronounced at 90%, but along with the falling temperatures, masses of clouds were quickly forming near the sun at the top of the sky. The clouds were even thick enough for a couple minutes to serve as natural eclipse filters for viewing the delicate crescent phase. The approaching moon’s shadow was very clearly seen – grey and ashen – creeping out of the northwest like a dark wind.
But who needs clouds! We started to get concerned that they’d snuff out totality. And while the total part began with a few clouds still teasing the solar disk, the sun broke out into a huge clearing only seconds after Baily’s Beads appeared. I can’t tell you how happy that makes you feel after you’ve invested so much time and energy into seeing an eclipse.
The first sight of the black moon and corona against the deep blue sky made me shout out loud. I seem to remember running, then lying on the ground, feeling vibes of pure joy. The sight was wildly beautiful.
Long, stretchy streamers extended to either side of the sun making it look like a three-tailed comet. In contrast, neatly aligned magnetic brushes crowned the north and south polar regions. Regulus was easy to see in 10×50 binoculars just outside or maybe even a little inside the corona with Venus brilliant to the west plainly visible with the naked eye. I didn’t see Mars and only briefly looked for the winter stars, but clouds in that direction blocked their view. Prominences along the northern and southern limbs popped into view about mid-totality.
The temperature dropped about 10° and a full chorus of crickets chirped the duration of totality. Two and a half minutes of crazy joy later, the sun returned shockingly fast. Like taking the lid off the pot. There was also a sense of the moon being “on fire” with Baily’s Beads just before and after totality.
Not 5 minutes later, traffic began to fill the nearby highway. What’s the hurry? We let it soak in.
There were hugs all around between family members and friends. Other impressions from our crew:
Linda: “Cold, dark and a little scary.
Roy: “Like a sci-fi movie experience. A scene from the end of the world.”
Dan: “Speechless. Exciting!”
Katie: “Apocalyptic and cathartic. The suspense was high followed by a happy feeling.”
Sally: “Felt elated when the clouds cleared on time. Emotional.”
** Because of an error on my part, I have no closeup photos of the corona. Most of mine were wide-angle, but I don’t have the ability to download and post anything except my one crazy image 🙂