We own a farmhouse about 40 miles west of St. Louis, right in the path of the August 21st, 2017 Total Eclipse. Family and a few friends gathered hoping against hope that clouds would stay away. If so, we had a perfect location to witness what is generally considered a once-in-a-lifetime event.
My son-in-law, Mike, is a fanatic about all things scientific. I think he is a literal genius who will always have an answer to any question I ask whether it is biology, botany, astronomy, plumbing, – you name it! To Mike, this was the Super Bowl, World Series, and World Cup wrapped up in two celestial objects. As I suggested in my previous post (although he would have done it anyway), Mike took his oldest daughter out of school to watch, learn, and bond as a family – to share something very unique. To the chagrin of his two daughters, who wanted to stay with the rest of the family, he was ready to jump in the car the first sign clouds may be a problem and use his weather app to find clear skies. Fortunately, the clouds cooperated and they all enjoyed it with the rest of us.
My son, Michael, operated a drone during the full eclipse, concentrating on the horizon and the earth and not the moon covering the sun. My daughter, April, passed out Oreo eclipse cookies as the moment approached as my other daughter, Rachel, took photos of everyone looking skyward with their ISO certified eclipse glasses.
Being an amateur photographer, I had my tripod set up to capture the event on my DSLR memory card. I avoided photographing the partial eclipse - not having a proper filter - to concentrate on the aura of the full eclipse and possibly catch ‘Bailey’s beads’ and the ‘diamond ring’.
The kids were fascinated with the half-moon shadows using colanders or shoe box viewers. But, of course, only our eight-year-old granddaughter knew what was going on. Nevertheless, the younger three had fun, like our three-year-old granddaughter wanting to be pushed on the swing with only five minutes to go to a total eclipse, or our four-year-old grandson looking to ride his toy motorized tractor. Then the sun disappeared and instead of getting quiet, voices were shouting “wow”, “this is incredible”, “amazing”, “awesome”, “ooh”, “ahhh”!
While the eclipse was truly amazing, here’s what didn’t happen. We missed the shadow bands or they didn’t happen. It was eerily dark, but not as dark as expected. And because it was a very humid day, the dip in the temperature was noticeable, but not the 10-15 degree dip we were expecting. However, the view in the sky was spectacular, the timing exact to the split second, and a realization of the power and vastness of the universe was real! Nature is not always predictable, but when it involves celestial objects, there is nothing more dependable. Nothing! Rachel remarked it was 100 times more awesome than she thought it would be.
Later, when viewing the drone video of the eclipse, we saw a car ambling down the road during the peak of the total eclipse. I wondered, why would they be driving at this moment? Where were they going? Surely, they heard about the eclipse. Did they forget about it? Were they freaking out if they were unaware? If it was an emergency, they were not in a hurry. But for whatever reason they were driving, the fact that their headlights came on at 1:16 PM CST on an otherwise very sunny day was a defining point in the video. Because being in a sparsely populated area without many lights, that car’s headlights symbolized the eclipse had taken over – for two minutes and eight seconds in Augusta, MO. Nature’s cycle was on schedule as it always is. But the celestial cycle we on earth are so used to, even the animals, was chillingly interrupted.
The drone’s camera adjusted for the dimmer lighting but those headlights told the story. In the middle of the day, those headlights shone and the neighbor’s rooster crowed. A neighbor’s rooster that may have been confused, but who did what roosters are supposed to do when the light breaks. It was quite something! The sights and sounds of a total eclipse; and the making of forever memories fused from one fleeting moment!