Monday, August 21, 2017

A few stray thoughts about the eclipse for those of you who didn't have the geographical good fortune of standing underneath full totality.

As the moon became more and more intrusive, subtle changes began happening. The quality of light changed, from that fat, saturated yellow of summer to a thinner, bluish winter hue. The temperature began dropping, too, but not until much of the sun was blocked. One lone, confused cricket started playing. The bowl of sky, which once ran from cobalt overhead to baby blue at the horizon, lost much of its color and became a faded pastel blue with not much gradient.

It was only near the end that the big changes started happening. Darkness fell, but not like night. It was like twilight on a different planet with a silvery sun. If anyone's seen old movies for film shot day-for-night, the impression was something like that.

The sun is unbelievably strong. It was so bright that my camera never captured anything but a circular form, even when it was the barest sliver. The amount of light a tiny crescent provides is likewise shocking--it was an odd, otherworldly sight, but only at the end would one have needed headlights, for example. Even with those impressive glasses--they allow no light through except the sun--my eyes ached in the brightness.

The difference between almost-totality and full eclipse? Roughly the same distance as almost-totality was from no eclipse. When the moon finally locked in place, dropping like ball into socket, some wondrous and literally indescribable change happened. We've all seen pictures of eclipses and they're accurate, to a point. But the image somehow seems so much larger in the sky than the naked sun; the burning silvery corona around the moon is so alive and vivid. It was just ....

Doesn't remotely do it justice. This was during totality.

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