Solar Eclipse 2017 from a National Park! And where is solar eclipse 2024?!
It was 2:40 seconds of Earth-dimming, syzygy insanity!
… at least it was for some lucky people.
Elizabeth and I really had no idea what to expect from the “Great American Eclipse” today. Living just inside the path of totality, the hype was ridiculous. But since the last time a total solar eclipse occurred in the greater St. Louis area was 1442 and the next one in St. Louis won’t be until 2505 we better not miss the chance see this astronomical coincidence caused by the nearly perfect overlapping of the sun and moon (which I learned is an extraordinary astronomical coincidence because while the sun is 400 times farther away than the moon, its diameter is also 400 times bigger so it appears the same size from Earth!).
Unfortunately, I had to work today. So we both went to downtown St. Louis together and planned to watch from the Arch where the Sun would be a mere 99.98% obscured by the moon. Fortunately, the place was an NPS site and they had an awesome eclipse watch party.
The area from the Arch to the Old Courthouse in St. Louis is an NPS site called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. (see the park rangers near Elizabeth!)
So I took an extended lunch and we grabbed our food truck gourmet hot dogs around 12:30 and whipped out our solar glasses every five minutes to check the moon’s progress as it marched across. The crowd got bigger and the excitement grew larger as we neared the maximum partiality at 1:18. Now and then clouds played with our emotions as they swooped in front of the sun.
Then a definite dimness covered the city. Much different than a setting sun, like someone just twisted the dimmer dial. The cicadas came out and the shadows turned to crescents. Through our glasses we could still see the smallest speck of sun left – the closest we would get to totality. A split second head jerk toward the sun – all I dared – and I could glimpse the “diamond ring” formation. Before we knew it, the lights were back on. It’s amazing how powerful just 10% of the sun is.
Our eclipse experience may not have been the darkest or the longest, but it was really cool to be part of a few thousand people standing in an NPS site all captivated by the magnificence of a phenomenon on a scale too massive to comprehend.
So now that this eclipse-mania 2017 has passed us by, I can’t wait to figure out when and from what National Park we can catch the next wild astronomical scene.
Where is solar eclipse 2024?!
So whether we make it to 2024 or not, there’s one funny thing I realized about today… When you are in a National Park you often take pictures from the exact same spot as thousands of other tourists capturing shots that can look very similar. But no one has ever or will ever take a picture that looks like this again in human history…
(I’m assuming by 2505 we’ll be hive-minded, omniscient humanoids with no need for archaic things like photos.)