Eclipse: The Experience of Totality

Being in the path of totality, was one of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed.

The sun's corona during the 2017 total eclise of the sun The sun’s corona during the 2017 total eclipse of the sun as seen near Madras, Oregon

The eclipse started off subtly. At first, using the proper eyewear, all you see is the tiniest dot on the edge of the sun; soon the moon is visibly “eating” the sun. This looks exactly as you would expect, the bright disk of the sun partially obscured by the black disk of the moon, but at the same time is quite different. Seeing it in person is nothing like seeing even the most detailed, high quality pictures.

30 minutes before totality the light starts to change. Colours become more muted; the grass is a little less green than usual. As totality gets closer things on the ground start to darken, the effect is subtle, and the sky is still looks identical. Without eclipse glasses you likely wouldn’t notice anything.

15 Minutes before totality, the temperature starts to drop. 5 minutes before, the ground is now noticeably darker, though the sky still isn’t any darker. 3 minutes before totality shadow bands begin to appear.

1 minute before totality the sky starts to darken slightly, and the temperature drops significantly.


The difference between 99% coverage of the sun and 100% is enormous. They are worlds apart. Once the moon obstructs 100% of the sun everything changes.

Darkness comes suddenly.

During totality it gets as dark as a moonlit night, with a sunset/sunrise on every horizon. It is breathtaking. The light takes on an eerie dreamlike quality that is impossible to accurately describe. It is nothing like I imagined and like nothing I have seen before.

The literal star of the show is the sun’s corona (pictured above). It is white, wispy, and stunningly beautiful extending for 3-4 solar diameters. It is incredible to watch.

Between the dreamlike quality of the light and magnificent corona, the 2 minutes of totality were not enough; no length of time would be enough.

The most surprising aspect of the eclipse was not the jaw dropping visual elements, it was the emotional response. It was unexpected, and I was not prepared for it. I have seen many incredible things my life, yet nothing hit me like totality.

Once totality started I was hit with pure, raw excitement. I started clapping and cheering. Who was I applauding?

Everyone was overwhelmed by emotions; many people started to cry; everything else falls away and nothing else matters. Totality consumes all of you.

Totality is an emotional experience that grips you to your core.

Once totality was over my thoughts immediately turned to the next eclipse to pass over North America which wont be until 2024. I am already planing to be in the zone of totality for that eclipse.

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