Total Solar Eclipse Experience – Once in a Lifetime?

Total Solar Eclipse Experience – Once in a Lifetime?

eclipsetotalityIt seems everyone’s gone crazy over tomorrow’s total eclipse. The program director of the National Science Foundation has said, “There’s never been an event like this in human history where so many people could participate and with such unique technology.” It’s the celestial event of a lifetime in the U.S.!

To avoid chaos, the library where I work has turned away scores of people trying to register for our total eclipse event on the 21st. We ran out of certified eclipse-viewing glasses over a week ago, but the phone keeps ringing with people asking where they can purchase them because TV, social media, and the Internet are filled with warnings for eye protection, recommendations for the best locations to witness “totality, etc.

I’ve read sky-gazers will see an 80% total eclipse from my workplace site near Detroit. It will begin around 1:03 p.m. when the moon will begin moving in front of the sun. It should peak around 2:27 p.m. and will be over around 3:47 p.m.

I will miss most of it, especially if I can find a parking spot at work tomorrow. Yes, can. Because as usual, I’m scheduled to work inside at one of the library information desks while everyone else is outside (except for the hardcore computer users) watching the eclipse. I’d still like to witness tomorrow’s event, however, because like snowflakes I’m sure no two eclipses are alike!

Yes, lucky me! Lucky us! Charles and I saw a total eclipse in 1998 in Venezuela. It was nearly 20 years ago, yet I  still remember how acutely our senses were affected. It was a whole body experience – humbling, mystical, and magical.

In February 1998, we were at our house on Isla de Margarita, Venezuela for one month. Before we left home in Detroit we knew there would be a total eclipse of the sun. Interestingly, Charles’ sister in Brno, Czech Republic had written us about an expedition being organized to see the total eclipse in Venezuela by an observatory in Upice, near her home. She read about it in an article by a professor from the Brno Institute of Technology (where Charles went to school during World War II).

This news excited us! After we reached Venezuela, Charles made devices for us to use to protect our eyes. We mapped out our route for February 26th the day of the eclipse. We wanted to be on a quiet, deserted beach so our strategy was to drive from our house near Bahia de Plata around 11:00 a.m. and head south of Juan Griego on the Avenida Simplicio Rodriguez along the north coast of Isla de Margarita on the Caribbean Sea.

playaparguitoWe arrived at our destination as planned with no one else in sight. It was just the two of us. Gradually the clouds lifted and soon after everything around us began changing – sounds, colors. . .The sky turned a bluish color and later pink. Birds sang. The temperature dropped and the winds shifted. The sky didn’t look right as it started to turn dark at the top. The moon took a bite out of the sun. The sea even changed color from blue to green and there was darkness. There was a sliver of light sparkling like a diamond ring. The moon was passing between the earth and the sun covering our closest star.  By about 2: 00 p.m. totality was in progress and the sun’s corona came into view – large and bright. The horizon was pink. Then before we could actually figure out what was going on it was over. The fleeting beauty lasted a few minutes.

Charles and I were overcome with emotion by the event. We hugged each other as if we knew we had experienced something we would never experience again.

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