Every now and then something truly incredible happens, the moon comes right between the sun and the Earth and forms a total solar eclipse! Today, an eclipse will be visible all across America for the first time since June 8, 1918, so my friends and I were up and out super early in anticipation of traffic. With millions of people planning to travel to the path of totality, this was shaping up to be the most watched solar event in American history!
The first order of business was coming to a consensus on where to watch the eclipse. It couldn’t be near a major city because of the traffic, and it couldn’t be near the coast where there might be a lot of summer fog. I wanted a secluded place with some neat rock formations, while my friends wanted a place to set up a blanket and picnic. So, we settled on Boysen State Park in central Wyoming!
Once we figured out the place, I had to figure out a good spot for a photo! The moon first started touching the sun just after 10:00 in the morning, which gave me an hour and a half to scope out photo locations. I found a neat anthill, which features in many creation myths around the world, but the sun was so high up that the anthill would never have been visible in a photo!
After some more hunting, I found a small but sufficient rock formation and settled in to watch the total eclipse. What made this a total eclipse, rather than an annular eclipse, is that the moon would be close enough to Earth to fully cover the sun in shadow. During an annular eclipse (annulus means “ring” in Latin), the moon is further away in orbit, so the sun can shine around it in a “ring of fire!”
At about 11:30, the light began to dim, and the temperature started to drop. Someone brought out a didgeridoo and hummed as the moon entered totality nine minutes later. The sky turned red, Venus appeared in the sky, and the crickets started chirping. It was like being cast into another dimension! I fumbled and fussed with my camera but just wasn’t able to stabilize it enough for the zoomed in photo I wanted. Eventually, I had to give up on getting a perfect photo and just look up. There it was, without a lens, without a filter, as eerie and strange as it must have been in prehistoric times!
Then, as suddenly as it began, the light came back and the eerie corona vanished. So much time and preparation had gone into such a brief moment of pure awe. It was really a metaphor for life, so brief but so worthwhile. It’s the kind of thing that will one day become myth, since the moon is slowly moving away from us and will one day be unable to block out the sun. Though I was a little disappointed about the quality of my photos, that one fleeting moment of glimpsing the black sun will be forever burned in my memory!
Of course, I’ll have to check out the 2019 eclipse in Buenos Aires and the 2024 eclipse across the US! Maybe I’ll see you there!