2017 Total Solar Eclipse in Idaho: Totality Awesome

Did you get a chance to see the epic eclipse along the path of totality?

I wasn’t really that interested. I found out about the eclipse about two months before it happened and the rumor was that the population of Idaho might actually double for the event. Southwestern Idaho was right in the path of totality. At the time, I had no idea what that word meant.

I’ve heard that it was a big deal and I think that I had seen a partial eclipse before when I was young, but it didn’t leave much of an impression.

I remained uninterested until a TedX talk popped up in my Facebook feed. David Baron said that you owe it to yourself to see a total eclipse before you die. Now those are some strong words.

The Great American Eclipse of 2017, August 21, 2017

A big deal in small towns

I live in Boise, Idaho and Boise would experience a 99% eclipse. 99% means you wear your sexy solar sunglasses the whole time and never experience the complete blocking out of the sun. That 1% makes all the difference.

All hotels were sold out in the small towns in the path of totality. Even campsites were completely sold out and people were renting out spaces in their yards. We opted for a day trip. My sister and I make plans for our families to trek out into the countryside for a big ol’ Eclipse Party. She and her husband insisted that we set our alarms for 3:45 AM to beat the horrible traffic that was expected across all the roadways in Idaho. We packed up drinking water and even extra gas.

I looked at the ridiculously overpacked trunk of my car and turned to my husband, “You know this is just an eclipse right, not the apocalypse?”

We roused our sleeping kids (of course my five-year-old never went back to sleep…). We had absolutely no traffic and we arrived at our destination before 6 AM. (Insert huge eye roll. Ugh. So early in the morning.)We waited in the dark on a friend’s property, those who could sleep slept and those who couldn’t played with a very talkative five-year-old and watched the sun rise over the countryside.

When the sun rose and the groggy teenagers woke up, our eclipse party started. The eclipse process would start about 10:10 AM with the totality happening from 11:25 AM to 11:26 AM – a mere minute in the geographic location that we drove to.

the great american eclipse

Let’s all stare at the sun together

Unlike POTUS, you probably already know that you need specially equipped glasses to look at the sun. Eye damage can (and will) occur in a very short amount of time.

eclipse in idaho

In addition to our Amazon.com and Walmart solar glasses, we made cereal box eclipse viewers with paper, scissors, a pencil and white paper. Because…never waste an opportunity to make crafts with your kids. Directions compliments of NASA.

The path of totality across Idaho

 

A Partial Eclipse vs. a Total Eclipse

At about 11 AM, things begin to change. We were surrounded by chickens and horses and while the horses didn’t seem to care, the chickens were confused by the changing light. Roosters crowed. As we got closer to the totality and the darkness fell, the chickens headed towards their coop to roost for “the night”. They figured it was literally time to hit the hay.

Now keep in mind that this was a hot summer day in late August and we were out in “full sun”, so to speak. As the moon began to cover the sun, the temperature fell remarkably. The temperature fell degree by degree until it felt like a cool evening air and even a breeze kicked up. It was perfect it was like sitting on the back porch in the twilight on a cool night, except it was 11:15 AM in August.

A total eclipse is an event seemingly unrelated to a partial eclipse. The light changes. Shadows bend and become elongated, sharp and then even fuzzy. We tried to capture it in pictures but it just didn’t photograph the essence of what we were seeing with our eyes.

At about 11:10 am, we moved our chairs into an open field and set up for the big event. Every minute the sky became darker and it felt like 5 PM. A few minutes later the darkness made it feel like about 7 PM. It was gradual and if you didn’t know something was happening, you might wonder if your eyesight was failing.

Our excitement built as we held up our cheap solar eclipse glasses as the eclipse approached totality. The sun was almost covered by the moon; it’s amazing that even the tiniest sliver of sun still showing still filled the air with light. Down to the last minute is when things really changed. It became twilight and then… The moon slipped over the sun.

My words cannot fully describe and my camera definitely could not capture what I saw. With the moon completely covering the sun, the light and the glow that you’re seeing in these photos is the sun’s atmosphere stretching into the galaxy and not the sun itself. It’s the corona: shimmery, lace-like and extending out into space hundreds and hundreds of thousands of miles away. It was sunset at the horizon with vivid orange and pink with a deep purple night sky up around the sun and the moon.

The very moment that the moon slid into place, the sunlight was sucked out of the air and what looks like a black sun hung over head.

the path of totality

I can only imagine what primitive cultures might’ve thought! Perhaps to her or fear or wonder and amazement. You could certainly see the three closest planets in the sky Venus Mars and

As a child of the 80s, this was my moment of Ladyhawk. You know when the sun in the moon and day becomes night night becomes day and all that? (What, you haven’t seen Ladyhawk? Go see that classic immediately…)

The teenagers even started yelling in shock and awe. We’ve never experienced anything quite like it.

For a few minutes, we understood viscerally that we are humans spinning on a planet around a star and all these celestial bodies have orbits and we are part of them. If you have a chance to see this event in the totality, you owe it to yourself to experience it.

 

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