“Almost” Total Eclipse (8/21/2017)

“Almost” Total Eclipse (8/21/2017)

e were supposed to go up to North Carolina where we’d rented a block of hotel rooms for my mom, my sister and us. That was the plan. But then the cat’s kidneys eclipsed about two months ago. As she got sicker, we decided to cancel our plans. And as it always goes in astronomy (and life), she passed away between that decision point and the event.

That left us stuck in Orlando with an 85% coverage. Better than nothing.

We watched it through pretty dark glasses (no aftereffects while I type this (and I’m not blind) so it must have been enough). Wasn’t sure what we were going to get – driving rain about an hour before the event began. But yes, the skies cleared (and other than a little haze that did nothing to intrude) we were able to watch the entire run up.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m used to the popular image of a false night, the silence of birds, the stillness, the spreading gloom. Actually, when things got rolling, it was hot and muggy (Florida in August after a rainfall). We had to go in and get sunscreen and hats given that we’d be outside for a while. Outside, the sun slowly slipped behind the moon, turning into a pacman, a crescent, then the thinnest of underscores. But the weird thing was, no fall of night. No confused bats (or tricked, doomed vampires). I will admit that the air cooled slightly and the light took on a slightly subdued tone. My wife reports that she thought the shadows were deeper. I heard one night cricket rosin his bow and not finding his orchestra in place fall into an embarrassed silence.

But I was thinking that if you were about to be burned at the stake by medieval knights, you’d really have to point out what was taking place. It didn’t seem that great of change, not what literature had convinced me of. Even when gigantic weapons platforms silhouette the sun, the stars shimmer over the heads of the doomed.

I’ll have to ask those who went to the total totality if it was any different.