A total solar eclipse occurred over the United States in August of 2017. The hubs and I went to Wyoming to see it. Here is what we learned:
1. What is an Eclipse Really
Let’s quote NASA on this one:
Sometimes when the moon orbits Earth, it moves between the sun and Earth. When this happens, the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching Earth. This causes an eclipse of the sun, or solar eclipse. During a solar eclipse, the moon casts a shadow onto Earth….A total solar eclipse is only visible from a small area on Earth. The people who see the total eclipse are in the center of the moon’s shadow when it hits Earth. The sky becomes very dark, as if it were night. For a total eclipse to take place, the sun, moon and Earth must be in a direct line.
And while all of North America was in the path of the eclipse, meaning you can see some of it, only a certain part of the country could see the total eclipse.
2. Partial vs Total
The Partial Eclipse, what most people saw, is when the sun, moon and Earth are not exactly lined up. The sun appears to have a dark shadow on only a small part of its surface.
In a Total Eclipse, the Moon completely covers the Sun. You can take your glasses off for a bit.
3. No, it doesn’t get dark and crickets chirp
Why do people think this? I have a video that shows exactly what happens. For some reason people think it gets midnight black, the cows lay down and the animals freak out. We were on a farm; cows don’t lay down. It actually looks more like it is about to storm and it becomes dusk, if that makes sense. It does get dark but not midnight dark.
4. Small Towns are not equipped to handle tons of people
There are Facebook Pages and GoFundme accounts for the towns in Wyoming. I thought this was a bit ridiculous until I talked to a waitress over in Glendo, WY. She explained that there are two things that we don’t really realize: Sanitation and Safety.
Most of these small towns have a sheriff or use State Patrol. There are no people in the area versed in traffic flow or how to handle large groups. And the state isn’t funded to bring in people to handle a one day event. So as she said, they use locals, who aren’t really trained, and many who don’t want tourist there at all. Remember if you live in a little town in WY, you don’t want to live around a ton of people.
If you live in a small town, you generally handle your own waste. People will take trash to a dump very far away or just burn it. What will they do with the 3 million people and all their trash. And the bathroom situation? Goodness.
5. People will Pay Anything for a Hotel
We stayed in Cheyenne at a Marriott and they were the sweetest staff ever. We had been eyeing the eclipse so we booked our room way far in advance. Many didn’t and were paying several hundred dollars. While there a woman came in with tears telling the front desk guy that there are no rooms in town under $1,000 and she didn’t know where to stay. He suggested she find something out of the path and she would be fine.
6. It is worth every second
My hubs was the real reason we went to see the eclipse. I didn’t understand that there is a big difference between a full and partial. I wouldn’t really care about a partial – I have seen a few. But the total.. well there are no words to describe the total.
I had no idea what to expect. Yeah yeah, it will be cool, sure. We rented land from a farmer so we would be away from everyone else. We got there several hours ahead of time to set up and really get settled. And then it started.
We had binoculars and glasses to see the eclipse, along with several cameras set up to capture the moment.
At some point my husband says, set your phone time for 2 minutes as that is how much time we can look at the eclipse. Yeah, sure.
I’m looking through the glasses. It is cool. We traveled quite awhile for this but it is cool.
Then he says, “ok, take off the glasses”.
I do, and immediately it is like I am hit with a euphoric drug. I start shaking. I am crying. I cannot believe what I am seeing. I want to take a photo but I .. just.. can’t.
Eventually I come to my senses and take a few pictures. Then the alarm goes off. Now I know why we set the timer as the 2 minutes seemed like 2 seconds.
The hubs wanted to talk about it. For the first time in my life I said, “can you give me a minute, I need to go sit over there alone for a bit”. No questions, because he completely understood.
Those 2 minutes changed my life. Not drastically but I look at the Earth and the Galaxy a little different now. We are just a small spec in a much bigger picture.
If you have an opportunity to see a full total eclipse, do it. Spend the money, take the flight, and do it.