Eclipse This

It was meant to be the event of a lifetime. In our house, there was consideration over the best possible spot to set up the telescope for seeing what is called totality, where the body of the moon covers the entire sun. Atmospheric charts were consulted to determine which U.S. location would have the least chance of cloud cover. Texas won our mini lottery. It was a great idea to go there, as we have many friends who live there. Plans began taking shape. Hotels booked along the way. Accommodations in a luxury camping trailer were assured at an out-of-the-way, private location for the main event. Even our son in Colorado decided to meet us there. Expectations ran high. None of that happened. Except for the actual eclipse, of course!

I got some kind of upper respiratory crud and was warned by a competent medical professional that it could move into my lungs. Suddenly three days in a car and camping in a remote location (even in a fancy camper) followed by three more days in the car did not seem so appealing. Not to mention sharing my viral infection with others. We made the decision to stay home so I could suffer in a comfortable space within short distance of my doctor and my tea kettle. On Monday, the day of the spectacle, I felt recovered enough to shuffle out to where my guy had set up the telescope.

If there’s one thing we all hate it’s cloud cover during a magnificent celestial event. We also hate being sick, but since the crud seemed to be waning, I shifted my annoyance to those clouds in our morning sky as Monday dawned, willing them elsewhere to make up for the lack of travel to the zone of totality. By mid-morning the sun came out and my in-house astronomer began to bustle about, sorting equipment for viewing and photography. But, that brilliance was just a tease. Obscurity returned just before the start of the moon’s passing between our street and the sun. Grumbling ensued.

The problem with setting up a telescope to watch changes to a heavenly body is that said body must be visible to some degree. When it’s cloudy, it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the sun even if a bit of brightness can be detected. The strategy then, is to get a general guage on the thing and hope for a miracle. I watched my astronomer haul out the gear, gaze wistfully at the sky and give a few audible sighs. Then he sat down on the nearby chair, which had joined all the telescopic equipment in the yard across the street for optimal viewing, and waited for his golden opportunity…clouds be damned.

Those rascally clouds were moving though. I could see patches of blue sky to the west and, sure enough, the moon was soon spotted against the sun’s massive surface through the scope. I ran back into the house to find those paper glasses recommended for steady staring at a burning ball of gas in the sky. Our enthusiasm began to attract some of our curious neighbors. Even our mailman, Mike from Boston, took a quick peek on his neighborhood round. A few people didn’t know an eclipse was on the calendar for the day. I envied them as it meant they had been occupied with more interesting activites than watching the news. But, come on! How could you not know! Maybe not everyone is as nerdy as us. We had known since the last full eclipse in 2017.

An eclipse is a magnificent thing to behold. Yet, the moon makes a somewhat languid passing in front of the sun, which takes about 2 hours. Even a tortoise race would be more exciting in the moment. As my mom would say, “It’s like watching paint dry.” In defence of the spectacle that is the solar eclipse, stuff happens, but very slowly. Neighbors took turns alternately gazing through the telescope and donning the special glasses to see it with their own eyes. They came and went according to the activities of their day. I nipped inside on several occasions to use the bathroom or to make tea. The clouds also moved with the pattern of their official travels, sometimes blocking the view and sometimes giving way.

My neighbor came by to run some sage through the house as is customary during an eclipse. According to Hindustani Times, an eclipse is a great time to perform this smudging as a ritual of self-care, by releasing negativity and encouraging positivity and abundance throughout the home and around your person. I’m always up for that. It seemed that lots of areas in and out of the totality zone had festivals and large events for its citizenry and visitors. No one expressed a belief that the world was ending. We have a lot more convincing evidence of that than the moon blocking the sun for a few minutes. Everyone seemed to enjoy the watching and reveling together. Hope springs eternal like the constance of the sun. Momentary interruptions are of little signifigance in the grand scheme of our short lifetimes. May we all gather together once more in peace and harmony twenty years from now for the next total eclipse.

See you there!



  1. Having missed this one (totality that is), there is always Greenland/Iceland in August 2026, North Africa in August 2027, or Australia in July 2028. Your choice.

  2. Greenlan/Iceland!!! Eclipse by day, Aurora by night. Sign me up

  3. Oooh Greenland …. Sorry to say, but some did declare the end of the world, sadly for them, it of course didn’t happen.

    We had similar cloud experience. But they moved out of the way enough of the time, that we saw the awesome spectacle!!

    So glad you are feeling better. Sure missed seeing you!!

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