24 August 2017

Was Driving 3,570 miles to See a Total Eclipse of the Sun Worth it? Yes!

Posted by Dan Satterfield

If you did not experience totality, I suspect you might be getting tired of hearing about the eclipse by now, but if you were in the right spot, you know how amazing it really was. The story of my trip was covered by Matthew Cappucci in his excellent piece in the Washington Post, but I wanted to share some of what really surprised me. I will say though that my dog Riley really is the world’s cutest dog and it’s about time the Washington Post admitted it!

Matthew Cappucci got this pic while I recorded video. He practiced for weeks to get the shot.

The AMAZING things I noticed when the Moon covered the Sun.

(1.) The Moon’s face at totality was the darkest black you can imagine: Actually, it is darker than you can imagine. I’m reminded of the descriptions of astronauts who have attempted to describe how black space is when you are above the atmosphere, and I think I understand that now.

(2.)The solar corona is far more beautiful than any photo can show: It has a silky appearance that is very uneven, and you find yourself wondering about the other glorious sights in the Universe that we do not know about.
(3.) How fast the real darkness comes: Even at 99% coverage, there was plenty of light around. Yes, it was getting dim, and the temperature was plummeting, but it was still not much different than 95% coverage. Then suddenly a diamond bead forms and within seconds it changes into Bailey’s beads. Those last just a few seconds as well, and within just a few seconds, the light disappears! It gets dark, and the camera shots you saw do not show it well because the camera tries to adjust and let in more light to the sensor.

My shot through a cumulus cloud just before totality.

Riley, the world’s cutest dog is sleeping off the eclipse on the long drive home to Maryland.

(4.) A beautiful 360-degree sunrise: Trust me, you have never seen a sunrise in every direction you look, but that is what you see when totality arrives. This happens because just 60 miles away there is still plenty of light under a 95-99% eclipse. It really is true that with eclipses, 99% means you missed it.

(5.) The colour of the sky overhead: It was a shade of blackish blue that I’ve never seen, and I suspect I will not see it again until I am lucky enough to stand in the path of totality again.

My son Roy and I watching the eclipse south of Alliance, Nebraska. Roy is autistic and I had to remind him to take off his glasses at totality to see the corona!

So, yes, driving from Maryland all the way to western Nebraska in 60 hours was absolutely worth it. I planned on shooting a descriptive video of my surroundings while my friend Matthew Cappucci attempted some shots of the eclipse with a good zoom lens. Unfortunately, the awesomeness of the event left me a babbling idiot! I’m OK with that though because the video sums up what experiencing totality for the first time is like.

It leaves you breathless.