Double Total Eclipse of the Sun

By chance, our travel plans took us through Missouri on the same day that the moon was to slip between the earth and the sun, causing a total eclipse. The first time in 99 years that this was going to happen in the United States. Without much effort, we could be in the center of the shadow, the path of “totality,” and near “ground zero,” the most prolonged duration of the eclipse. We ordered our filtered glasses online, studied the charts and maps, reviewed the astrophysics behind the phenomenon, and planned to be in St. Joseph, Missouri, at exactly 1:08 P.M. on August 21st, 2017.
This was going to be great. We would see the partial eclipse as it got larger and larger. As the sky darkened, we would see the “diamond ring” as the last rays of the sun tucked behind the moon. Finally, we would experience total darkness and study the sun’s corona, just visible beyond the horizon of the moon. Then a repeat performance in reverse. All of this was to occur in a whopping 2 minutes and 31 seconds.
As we drove north into Missouri on the day of the eclipse, high clouds started to appear. This was okay, according to experts, a light cloud cover would make the viewing a little easier. Passing Kansas City, we began to see dark clouds off to the northwest. Still no cause for concern; it was just one line of thunderstorms and would probably pass before the big event.
We settled into a vacant lot just outside St. Joseph, ate lunch in our trailer, and waited. Instead of clearing, the clouds thickened. The time 1:08 was fast approaching and still no sign of the sun. Just before one P.M., it started to rain. Then darkness descended around us. Real nighttime, get out the flashlight, darkness. This lasted for about 45 seconds, and then the light returned to the world around us. Although we did not get to see the sun actually move behind the moon, we did get to experience the effect of being in the center of the shadow. In fact, I would argue that we experienced what most people in the country did not, a double total eclipse of the sun, first the moon, and then the clouds. Something to brag about to the grandchildren.

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2 thoughts on “Double Total Eclipse of the Sun

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    1. It really was neat to be in the center of the shadow. With the cloud cover it was as dark as a moonless night for about 45 seconds.

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