Not that it was needed. The excitement that grew in anticipation for this once-in-a-lifetime event had been building for months. On the Big Day, thousands of people made the trip to our area just to see it. Some came from as far away as Japan and China. Some booked flights just to be in the air as it happened. Some got engaged during the Moment (totality, when the sun's corona looked very much like a celestial diamond ring). Ten babies were born during the eclipse--an unusually high number, according to doctors. A black foal born during the eclipse had a crescent-shaped white mark on its head. Guess what she was named?
For one day, most of us put aside our differences, joined in our excitement over seeing something that, if you're lucky, you get to see once in your lifetime. Eclipses weren't always so popular, however. Some ancient cultures believed the sun might disappear forever and demons would descend upon the earth and devour humans. Some fasted, believing food cooked during an eclipse was impure. Some ancient superstitions told of children born during eclipses turning into mice. Others suggested women and children were at risk and had to stay indoors.Some saw it as a warning to settle differences, as the sun would not come back until they did so. Good thing that one's not true. We'd still be waiting for the sun to come back!
In movies, eclipses have been harbingers of doom. In The Seventh Sign, an eclipse was one of the signs preceding the end of the world.
I viewed the eclipse with a neighbor, right here in our courtyard. I almost didn't go outside, even though I had my eclipse glasses ready to go. One of our local TV stations was doing a three-hour special to cover it. It would be more impressive on TV, I told myself. The image would be larger. More detailed. It wouldn't look any different.
Boy, was I wrong.
I did venture out, at first, just to see how tiny the sun looked through the glasses at the beginning. There was just a small part of the sun obscured by the moon. Made me wish I still had my telescope. Made me wish for another. Made me wish I had brought my tablet out so I could view it through the Mobile Observatory app. I decided I wanted to see the big finale. I watched through the eclipse glasses as the sun was reduced to a tiny orange sliver, then nothing.
I'd forgotten the part about removing the glasses when totality was reached. I pulled the glasses off--and was immediately speechless. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. I was wrong--seeing it on TV would not have been the same.
Collin wanted to photograph it. I advised him to forget about that and just enjoy it. There would be plenty of photos available afterward. There have been--including a couple of amazing shots now available for viewing at St. Louis Daily Photo.
For once, Collin took my advice and is still taking about the experience. Things were busy at IHOP, he said, until about 11:45. There was a viewing party at Jefferson Barracks, so I'm guessing everyone headed over there to wait for the eclipse. It was so quiet at the restaurant, Collin and his fellow servers were able to go outside and see it themselves.
Now, we're planning for April 2024. We want to go see the next one at Carbondale....