Seeing the Eclipse

The sun at totality during an eclipse, surrounded by the corona.

My wife and I watched the total solar eclipse from a back yard in Kingston, Ontario. The day before the eclipse was perfectly clear, without a cloud in the sky, but the day of the eclipse was pretty cloudy, and we worried that we wouldn’t get to see much. But the atmosphere was festive, and folks were chatting over the fences between yards, playing music, and having a good day off from work.

As the eclipse began, the clouds parted, and we had a very good view through our eclipse viewers. But the action was pretty slow. The sun is missing a little bit on one side. The sun is starting to look like Pac Man. The sun has horns. The sun is a bow. The sun is a crescent moon. And so forth. This phase of the eclipse took more than an hour, and there was plenty to time to get a bite, check emails, take pictures, and relax without missing anything. But then, once the moon covered nearly all of the sun, a lot happened all at once.

The quality of the light changed. Twilight fell. The birds building their nest in a tree stopped building and flew in circles. The air cooled. I felt but did not see a shadow rushing towards us. Then it was night. I looked up and was confronted by a black hole in the sky, surrounded by silver. The photo I managed to take does not do it justice.

The sun right after totality during the eclipse, looking like a diamond ring.

Then a brilliant light appeared in one corner of the sun’s disc. Just as promised, it looked like the diamond on an engagement ring. And as quickly as it had come, the strangeness of totality was gone. The light returned to normal. The birds went back to their work. And we went about our day.

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