Column: Eagle resident experiences totality of solar eclipse in Wyoming
August 23, 2017
I drove up to Wyoming on Sunday evening and spent the night near Douglas, about 50 miles east of Casper. I slept right in the middle of the predicted zone of totality for the eclipse. There were cars parked all along the shoulders of the road. The eclipse started around 10:30 a.m. and was partial until 11:40. The partial was unimpressive. I spent most of the time reading a book. There were some cute shadows on a sheet that folks in a neighboring car had laid out on the ground.
We had about 2.5 minutes of totality. Once the totality started, we took off our eclipse glasses and were able to look directly at the sun. As you have seen in the photos, there was a black disk blocking the bright part of the sun with a fainter light riming the disk (the atmosphere of the sun — the corona). By 11:45, a diamond ring (corona ring with a bright point of light) appeared at the trailing edge of the moon and the totality was over.
I have no good photos to show. I was enjoying the experience. It was pretty incredible. Before the totality started, the edge of the total eclipse shadow was visible coming from the horizon at 1,000 mph, which was about 10 miles away. It took about 30 to 40 seconds to reach us. It reminded me of the wave of darkness that devoured the countryside as described in J. R. R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings." Everything on the ground turned kind of a coppery gold color. The shadows looked funny, and I felt a bit nauseous and maybe a bit light headed.
At totality, it rather suddenly got dark and the stars came out. Between the change in light, temperature and sound, it felt like the world was substantially changed.
During totality, there was a rose hue in the sky all around the horizon for 360 degrees. It was like a beautiful sunset in every direction. The temperate dropped 16 degrees at my spot. I can see how early people were terrified. There was a black disk blocking all the sun's heat and almost all the light. What did we do to cause this? Crazy.
It was a true bucket-list experience.
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Someone said seeing a partial eclipse is like looking at a map of France, while attending a totality is like people-watching at a cafe on the Champs Elysees having a coffee and croissant; listening to talk, traffic and a street accordionist; and smelling French perfume, bodies and food.
If you didn't catch the totality this time, then put April 8, 2024, on your calendar and consider finding your way to somewhere between Mexico and Maine. I know I will.
Mitch Hayne is an Eagle resident.
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