In the Path of Totality

Being on the path of totality for today’s solar eclipse felt grandiose and tiny all at the same moment. In fact, thinking about how to summarize the event, it needs more than just one word. Much like the name “totality” implies, the day felt like a sum of many small and big parts all work working together.

First of all, the weather was a big factor. Yesterday, the sun winked brightly at us through a cloudless, spring-blue sky. Today we woke up to clouds. Lots of them. And a dismal 60-80% chance of complete overcast during the eclipse time. A few patches of blue opened up in the morning, only to be quickly replaced by thicker, darker looking clouds. By the time the eclipse started, I sat feeling a little deflated on the couch. The live coverage of the eclipse in other, sunnier places didn’t improve my mood. I reached over and sullenly ate the “full sun” cookie on my eclipse cookie display.

About 20 minutes into our eclipse time, my mom went out to check. She ran back in reporting she could see it. We sprang into action and relocated to the backyard to watch. The sky remained cloudy, but sunny enough to watch the whole thing. Even enough to experience the temporary darkening and silence for our 50ish seconds of totality. As a special treat, the sun came out to stay for the rest of the afternoon.

The moments leading up to, and after, totality also exemplified small and big working together. Watching the moon creep across the sun’s path, everything felt like it was in slow motion. Staring at the sun, it seemed as though nothing was moving. Though I knew earth, moon, and sun were all moving fast. Faster than I could even imagine. Except during the event, it felt as though time had slowed down. We had time to breathe, walk around, check the pinhole viewer, and then gaze up with our eclipse glasses to see another small slice of the sun covered. Long after totality, we sat watching until the last tiny slice of the moon moved across.

Significant hype and expectations surrounded the event. This also felt like another example of totality. Regardless of how big media and crowds made the eclipse, I felt tiny watching this incredible event. An event shared by millions of people live, and many more through televised coverage.

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