ECLIPSE

I saw the eclipse!

It wasn’t easy. I flew out to Colorado to meet my brother, and then we all drove up to the middle of nowhere, Wyoming, through endless pastures and fields of sunflowers, plus plenty of empty land and the occasional geological portent. On an average Monday it would have taken a bit over three hours; it took us six, along with all the countless thousands of other enthusiasts winding through those two-lane roads.

We got there with half an hour to spare, in perfect sunshine. At half-eclipse, it still felt like any other bright summer day, but around 90%, things began to change. The shadows grew strangely sharper, and the light felt oddly blue compared to normal dusky twilight. Insects really did begin to chirp as if at nightfall.

Then, in a moment, totality. The horizon was ringed by impossibly pink sunset, planets were visible, and the moon appeared as a perfect black circle at the top of a navy blue sky.

People say it’s just sheer luck that the apparent size of the sun and moon are so nearly the same, so that eclipses are possible but exceedingly rare. There’s another lucky coincidence of sorts that’s less discussed: the solar corona is exactly the right brightness for appreciation by the human eye. Too bright, like the sun, and you wouldn’t be able to even look at it; much dimmer and it might be hard to see.

From Goshen County, Wyoming, just north of Lingle, the corona looked like a four-tailed white flame, frozen in time. Through standard binoculars, laminar striations were visible, reinforcing the sense of fire. A candle flame taller than a hundred earths, in perfect lily white.

And then, it was over. Two minutes of shock, and then back on the road.

Pictures here, including a spherical VR timelapse movie(!), and the grand finale courtesy of my brother.

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