Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Our Eclipse Experience

We watched yesterday's eclipse from home. Totality was only a little over one minute, but you can't beat the fun of seeing a total eclipse from your own front yard.

Here we are banging on drums and trash cans to drive away the dragon eating the sun:

Some people have described a total solar eclipse as a life-changing experience. I won't go that far. Raising a child is a life-changing experience -- a total eclipse, not as much. But it was an amazing spectacle. We managed to see the shadow snakes wiggling up our street just prior to totality. The thing I found most impressive was the suddenness of the darkness -- after half an hour of gradual dimming, totality was like turning off a light bulb. The solar chromosphere (I think) was visible as a red band at the edge of the moon, although some of my kids thought it looked more purple than red. And what about our chickens?

They huddled together in the middle of the yard during totality. They're easily spooked -- they are chickens after all.


Kathy said...

I suppose that for those who are so enamored of totality that they go on to chase eclipses, it is quite literally a life-changing experience.

For the next eclipse, try reading the last scene from "Nightfall" while the Moon slowly slides over the Sun. You must time it so you read the last line, "The long night had come again," exactly at totality.

Robert Scherrer said...

I think in the back of my mind I was hoping for something more along the lines of "Nightfall." The kids down the street were yelling, which made the neighborhood dogs bark, but that was about it.

Kathy said...

Do you mean like generalized insanity, civil unrest and people lighting themselves on fire? I suppose the eclipse was too short for that, and I think most people have experienced darkness and stars before :)

But there's plenty of irrationality still attached to eclipses. Back in 1991, a relative of mine shut himself in all day, curtains drawn and all, because he didn't want to go blind from the eclipse.

Robert Scherrer said...

It was interesting to see some of the media outlets warn that you should NEVER look at a solar eclipse, even during totality. Obviously they did not want to be sued for eye damage. We all looked at the eclipse (during totality only). Nobody went blind. It's like telling people never to eat mushrooms because some of them are poisonous.

Kathy said...

They might as well warn against living, seeing as no one has ever gotten out of life alive :)

Justin said...

> The solar chromosphere (I think) was visible as a red band at the edge of the moon, although some of my kids thought it looked more purple than red.

Those were probably Baily's (spelled without an e) beads, only visible just before and just after totality.

Robert Scherrer said...

I thought about that, but the red splotch was visible throughout totality. One of my astronomy colleagues suggested they were solar prominences.