Pretty cool, wasn’t it? While an astronomy buff for most of my life, I never really grasped what an awesome experience viewing a total eclipse would be until I found myself staring into the totality from downtown McMinnville at 1:30 p.m. Monday.
It is hard to describe. Sure, we captured numerous pictures and I even put video on our website, but all of us who lifted our eyes up and saw the sun’s corona glowing around the moon know that video and pictures do it no justice. It’s something that has to be viewed – safely albeit – to be appreciated. Some people awed, some people cheered, some people wept. The closest I can describe it is it is almost a religious experience, something that is felt almost as much as it is seen.
While I was downtown covering the event leading up to totality, my family had assembled together for a viewing party. Among them was Henry, my 11-year-old, who was not very keen on the eclipse. As you know, we’ve been warned over and over to be careful when viewing the eclipse lest we ruin our eyes. Experts say the only time it was safe to look toward the sun was during totality when the moon fully blocked the rays. In other words, it was only safe when it got dark out and then, in Warren County anyway, it was just safe for 90 seconds until that first big flare peeked out from the right-side of the moon telling us all the party was over for our life-time, here at least. There’s another total solar eclipse in 2024 that will hit west of here and likely give us about an 80 to 90 percent block. However, it will not give us the coolest feature of the eclipse – totality.
With that being said, I plan to go see it and I’m taking Henry with me. You see, given the numerous warnings about how you could go blind, Henry was terrified to look up. It was all they could do just to get him to go outside. That was a pretty good maneuver on its own since he was closing all the curtains at the house when I left for work Monday.
“I don’t want to go blind,” Henry said.
The closest he got to view the eclipse was through a pin-hole viewer made from a cardboard box. That is fine for partial as you can see the shape of the moon moving in front of the sun. However, as all of us who looked up know, there is nothing to replace looking directly at the totally eclipsed sun. It is almost real-life, sci-fi to view it.
While I understand his worry, I hate he was the only one in the family not to look up during the time of totality to get to experience it. Therefore, in 2024, I would like to take a trip out west with Henry, who will then be 18, and give him another chance at seeing it for himself. Plus, I wouldn’t mind getting another peek myself.
Standard reporter Duane Sherrill can be reached at 473-2191.