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Eclipse 2017 – McCaysville, GA

F.O.

McCaysville, GA

2017-09-03

The eclipse…oh, where to begin? The predicted endless traffic up to McCaysville, GA from Atlanta was literally nonexistent. Didn’t need that emergency kit after all.   Made the trip easily in the standard time under two hours.

After thinking about it for a bit, we decided to stay put in McCaysville at our family’s cabin, and not travel further up the Path of Totality to Fields of the Wood, NC.  With two kids in tow, having to think about lunch, bathrooms, shade, breaks, whininess, and being all together for it, it made sense to stay put at the cabin. We lost about a minute of totality doing so, but our sanity (and the kids’) remained!

We were SO blessed with absolutely clear skies throughout every stage of the eclipse except 4th Contact, where it got cloudy as the Moon said goodbye.

The eclipse began at 1:04 when the Moon just began coming across the Sun. For a while, it was hard to tell that anything was happening. Unless you looked up at the Sun or through the telescope, you would not have noticed much of a change.

Between 1pm and 2pm there were a couple of clouds that appeared to the left or right, toying with us, but quickly went away again as if God were shooing them away!

Things really started to happen around 2pm. The Sun’s light began to noticeably grow more dim, almost as if someone were letting a shade down slowly in front of it. It wasn’t like the Sun setting. It had an eerier quality to it. It’s impossible to describe.

A couple of minutes before Totality hit at 2:34pm, things got really dark. Again, this darkness was not anything like a sunset. It was like someone with a dimmer switch on the Sun, turning it down. I could see why our ancestors without astronomical knowledge were terrified of this.

Just before Totality, we saw the Diamond ring effect, and Baily’s beads of light appeared around part of the disk. Then as the last of the Sun’s light disappeared, the Corona burst into view. Everyone gasped at the beauty. I felt like Jodie Foster in Contact – “no words, no words, they should’ve sent a poet”.  One 13yo cousin with us said “Holy Bananas!” and “IT’S GLORIOUS!”

Everyone wanted a peek at the telescope during Totality. I finally got a few seconds to myself. The Corona was indescribably beautiful, if angels have hair that is what it would look like. But it was static, not moving – it reached out like tendrils from the now black disk in the sky in several purposeful directions, like something had gathered it up from the Sun and pulled it.

My favorite part was getting to clearly see a solar prominence during Totality (the flames that leap out from the Sun’s surface). The large one I saw was a bright red and made a loop out from and back to the Sun’s surface.

The white sheet we spread out on the ground to catch the shadow bands did not disappoint either. These shadow bands occur about 30 seconds before and after Totality, possibly due to light refraction. Very faint but definitely noticeable on the white background.

Then, all too soon, Totality was over, another diamond ring appeared, glasses had to go back on, and the Moon began to move away again.

I got what pictures I could, but neglected the video camera – the Sun moved out of view during Totality, so it only recorded our voices, ooh’s and aww’s and my son screaming “AAAAHH, THE WORLD IS ENDING!” I wish I had taken the advice of others and just enjoyed it, & left the pics to the pros.

I cannot WAIT until the next one – April 8, 2024!

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