Beemer (dr_tectonic) wrote,


So Sunday morning we hopped in the car and drove out to Nebrasker to see the eclipse with my parents. The forecasts for traffic were bad, so we had all kinds of travel supplies on hand, but there was no traffic at all heading east on Hwy 36.

We got our wedding vows written up during the drive and arrived around 4 pm their time. A couple of my Mom's old work friends (Debbie and Marilyn) also drove out and were sleeping in the camper, so we got the guest room. Lots of visiting with family and old family friends and cats and dogs that evening.

We got up pretty early and headed out at about 8:30 the next morning. We drove an hour and some north to Kearney, where the fairgrounds was open. Once again, we went early anticipating big crowds, but there was nothing at all where we were. There were like two other vehicles within a hundred yards of us. We set up chairs and a table in the shade of a big tree and were very comfortable.

The partial eclipse started at about 11:30. At first, you couldn't tell anything was happening except by looking through eclipse glasses as the sun and seeing a chunk missing. After a while, though, the change in the light levels was definitely noticeable, and it cooled off. I kept looking up to see if a cloud had gone over the sun, but it was pretty much totally clear.

In the last fifteen or twenty minutes leading up to totality, the change in the light started to feel uncanny. The light levels felt like late evening, but there was no change in the color. (My parents' dog, Squirt, hopped into the truck to take a nap because it was bedtime.) The funny thing is that even when there was only a tiny sliver of the sun still visible, it was still much too bright to look at, so if you didn't know what was happening, all you'd be able to tell is that the sun was going dim and cold for no readily apparent reason.

Totality came on swiftly. All of a sudden, the sun was gone and there was a black circle with a brilliant silver ring around its edge in its place. It looks just like all the photos of it, but seeing it there in the sky is a totally different thing. I said "wow!" involuntarily. I could see the corona sticking out in three big spikes of light, and later on seeing other people's photos of it from hundreds of miles away that looked exactly the same really brought home that, yup, that wasn't anything happening in the atmosphere, that was the sun itself. I spent about 5 seconds trying to take a picture of it, and then got back to just looking.

Everything got very quiet; I think a lot of that was a lack of road noise as all the cars pulled over to watch the eclipse, but the wind also died down. Down at the horizon, it was like sunset, but in every direction. The sky was beginning-of-night dark, and a couple planets were readily visible, though I didn't look close enough to see Mercury.

We had just under 2 minutes of totality where we were, and then the sun came back just as quickly as it left. I saw just a tiny bit of Baily's Beads / diamond ring effect, but it doesn't last long before you have to look away and put your glasses back on as the sun becomes visible again. Of course, there was just as much partial eclipse after totality as before, but where in the lead-up it was fascinating to watch things change, afterwards it was small potatoes.

Once it was done, we all headed back to Naponee, and then Jerry and I packed up and drove home. Got in at about 9 pm. It was a lot of driving for two days, but the experience was worth it.

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