One More Eclipse?

How was your experience yesterday?

From where we are in Michigan, yesterday’s solar eclipse had about 80% coverage. Leading up to it, I thought that sounded like a lot. I figured it might even get dark, and the livestock could start acting funny. After all, doesn’t the image below look like just a sliver of sun sticking out from behind the moon?

eclipse 2017

As it turned out, the sky simply dimmed a bit and turned a somewhat different color. If you hadn’t known there was an eclipse going on, you never would’ve guessed. My oldest son remarked, “It looks like there’s a weird storm coming in or something.”

Exactly. I kind of expected to hear a tornado siren in the distance.

I guess I should’ve bought some eclipse glasses. I procrastinated on that one, and after the stories came out about defective glasses that were being recalled, I wasn’t sure who I could trust. Besides, I figured the view on TV would be better than what I could get in person.

That was a big mistake. My daughter happened to be visiting someone yesterday who had glasses, and she said the view of the eclipse through them was very cool. And the images on TV? Pretty good, but the people in the zone of totality looked like they were having much more fun — and were much more impressed — than the TV images seemed to justify.

I started thinking … I’d sure like to experience that at least once in my lifetime. When I was about a month shy of my tenth birthday, the 1979 solar eclipse came very close to Seattle, and we had 99%+ coverage — but the skies were overcast, and we missed the best of the show. My memories of it are as hazy as the cloud cover. I seem to remember watching it on TV that morning at home — because I shouted “Totality!” (I loved that word) when that point came. It was a Monday, and I’m not sure why we weren’t at school. Maybe it was an in-service day or something. Or maybe we did have school, and I was watching coverage shot on the Oregon coast or something, before catching the bus. Or maybe we were watching it on TV at school. See how hazy this memory is? I do remember it getting very dark out, and the street lights coming on. But that’s about it.

Fortunately, it looks like the next total solar eclipse, on April 8, 2024, will be reasonably close to where we live. From our farm, we should get about 97% coverage. Pretty good. But looking at the map, it won’t be hard to do better. I’m thinking seriously about making a two and a half hour drive down to Ohio, to get in the center of the band of totality. Someplace between Findlay and Upper Sandusky, at around three in the afternoon, they’ll have around four minutes of total eclipse.

Studying the map and list of upcoming events, it looks like 2024 might be my last, best shot at experiencing a total solar eclipse. I hope we get a clear day (which, in April, in the upper Midwest, is no sure bet). The USA doesn’t get other ones after that until 2044 and 2045, and my chances of experiencing those are slim; not only do they go nowhere near Michigan, but … I’ll be over 75 years old.

It certainly is sobering, realizing that your supply of “somedays,” for the special, once-in-a-lifetime experiences you always thought you’d be able to have…is now dwindling.

I’m starting to think I really need to sit down and write out my personal Bucket List, so I can make sure I do have enough time to get to them all.