Waseca County Pioneer 111 W. Elm Ave.

Waseca, MN (507) 837-6767


The Eclipse did not go according to plan

As always, it’s good to be home again..
But, boy, am I glad I took a trip to see the eclipse “in totality” off to the east. As is almost always the way with trips, especially ones which must be monitored and adjusted along the way, things did not go perfectly.
But they went well–very well indeed. The moment of totality made it all worth the effort and expense. Five of my family members traveled together. We had one location in mind as we began, then changed our course slightly to try and escape a surprise cloud bank that was contrary to the forecast we had been relying on. It didn’t exactly work: turns out clouds can do whatever they want.
As the eclipse began, we had a very clear view of the sky. I have a fair number of pictures (taken through a special darkening filter) which show the first nibbles of the moon’s shadow across the sun. From beginning to end, the whole eclipse lasts more than an hour. The sight of the advancing shadow is quite dramatic–it’s simply (forgive the wordplay) “eclipsed” by the nearly three minutes of totality which we experienced in the city park where we watched.
There are two moments referred to as the “diamond ring” when the moon’s shadow is nearly perfectly centered, but a small section of the sun is still shining more brightly–like a ring with a shining stone. And then there’s the perfect circle, the sun’s rampant energy radiating out from around it the completely overshadowed center. While one must use protective sunglasses to look at the rest of the eclipse, it is safe to look at totality with no eye protection–because you are no longer looking at the sun itself, only its corona. You either already have, or easily can, access photos online.
In our case, what seemed like a curse turned into something of a blessing.
High clouds had been steadily moving in, so that by the moment of totality, our line of sight was completely occluded. It grew gradually darker and darker; the park’s light came on, as it doubtless every day at dusk. It grew a bit colder, though we paid pretty much no attention to that. All eyes were on the sky.
It was mesmerizing.
The clouds which seemed to be working at spoiling everything somehow cast the diamond ring and the minutes of totality into what seemed like three dimensions–giving it not only the height and width you see in all the photos, but what looked like depth as well–as though it were hanging there in the sky at an angle. Fortunately for me, with nearly three minutes of totality to experience, I could satisfy both my nearly irresistible impulse to photograph beautiful things, and the obvious goal of enjoying the eclipse for the wondrous moment it is.
As the three-dimensional effect occurred, there were spontaneous gasps and statements of wonder: “That’s amazing.” “It’s wonderful.” “I had no idea.”
All I can say is, you had to be there to fully appreciate it.
The pictures are intriguing—definitely different from the ones you’ll see online—and, like with nearly all three-dimensional things, useful more as a basis for description than as a definitive representation of the moment.
In the middle of it all, I turned to take a look at the people around me: they were rapt in the mystery. I couldn’t help thinking that science could explain everything about the eclipse except its profound effect on us. Watching that floating ring in the clouds, the colossal coincidence—that the moon is at just the right position between the earth and its source of light to perfectly cover the inner disk of the sun while allowing a view of the corona—seemed a powerful message to me that our universe cannot be as it is by chance.
The trip had quite a number of inconveniences: long hours in the car, the difficulty of being one of millions of travelers who needed hotel rooms, the irritations of being away from home, the worst traffic this relatively inexperienced traveler has ever been caught in, the “what if” possibilities surrounding the various decisions we made along the way.  The five of us who took the trip will probably be sharing stories for generations to come.
I won’t say “I wouldn’t change a thing,” but the irritations, the expense and the inconvenience were all worth it. I’m glad I was in the right place to see what I saw.


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