Chasing the Eclipse
When we heard that there would be a total solar eclipse crossing the United States in 2017, we were very excited to have the opportunity to view such a rare event!
First, we consulted the NASA map to find a location near us that was in the path of the eclipse totality. Then we checked for available hotels along I-65 that were in the totality zone. We chose to drive to a Hampton Inn in Franklin, Kentucky on Sunday so that we would be on site for the eclipse the following afternoon.
Next, we ordered certified safe solar viewing glasses to allow us to see the eclipse. It’s very important to protect your eyes from sun damage, so please consult solar eclipse viewing safety guidelines before engaging in any eclipse viewing or photographing activities.
Observing the Path
Monday, August 21 was a clear, warm day in Franklin, without any clouds to obstruct the sun. The eclipse started at 11:58 am. We used our eclipse viewing glasses to track the progress of the moon passing between the earth and the sun.
We kept our youngest son in the shade most of the time so that he wouldn’t get too hot or sunburned. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t keep the viewing glasses on, so we showed him photos of the eclipse as it progressed.
The flat lens of the safety glasses made a really good filter to use over my phone’s camera to capture photos of the partial phases of the eclipse.
It stayed quite sunny until just a couple of minutes prior to the total eclipse, which occurred at 1:26 pm. While we waited, we enjoyed talking to the other families that had gathered outside the hotel to view the eclipse. One family even had a reunion there, as members came from neighboring states to meet up in Franklin for this major event!
Experiencing the Totality
There was a dramatic change as the eclipse approached totality. The sunlight dimmed to dusk levels and then rapidly progressed to darkness. Crickets started chirping as birds squawked and flew around. Streetlights turned on as the sky became dark. The air felt noticeably cooler. It was awe-inspiring to experience sudden “nighttime” in the middle of the afternoon.
For 2 1/2 minutes, the sun was blocked by the moon, appearing as a big black disc surrounded by a thin silvery ring. The sun’s corona looks much thicker in the photo, since there is still a enough of the sun’s light escaping around the edges of the moon to affect the camera’s light sensor.
Suddenly, the sky began to brighten as the moon continued on its path across the sky. It was startling how much light a thin sliver of sun could produce! It looked like full daylight again within just a minute or two.
Our family has been on many weekend trips, but this will always be one of the most memorable. What an incredible experience to see this total solar eclipse together!