Deborah’s Excellent Solar Eclipse Adventure

I’ve posted earlier about my trek up to Lassen to view the annual solar eclipse in 2012. My same friend organized an expedition up to Oregon for this year’s total eclipse, but for various reasons I didn’t go. However, my older daughter, Sarah, and I did get a grand view of it from near home (about 72%).

Our first thought was to walk up the street to a place unimpeded by redwood trees, but Sunday morning brought such a heavy marine layer, one that didn’t clear until early afternoon, that we looked for an alternate plan. I called various friends farther inland and finally connected with one, about an hour’s drive away, who hadn’t ordered eclipse shades in time. So Sarah and I, eclipse shades in hand, hit the road very early in case there was significant rush hour traffic. There was.

So the eclipse began with me behind the wheel and Sarah peeking out the window through her shades going, “Wow.” I tell you, if I had not already seen that first teensy bite out of the Sun, I would have been majorly bummed. Instead my reaction was one of joy — my kid was thrilling to the very same thing I had loved.

It soon became apparent that we weren’t going to arrive until the maximum coverage. I was talking myself into that being okay. Sarah called our friend, who said that the overcast was pretty heavy at their place. So, since we were in sun with only a few clouds, we pulled off the freeway, turned on to a side street and then the first open parking lot. It happened to belong to the Tzu Chi Foundation for Compassionate Buddhist Relief. We scrambled out of the car to see the eclipse at about 25%, with all the ooohs and aaahs and I remember how cool this is! excitement.

Then came the best part. The foundation offices looked closed, but a volunteer drove in and came over to see what we were doing. In huge excitement, I offered her my shades. “Oh, can you see it from here?” she asked. And then looked. Amazement and delight lit up her face. We talked about what was happening in the sky, she looked again and again…and then she ran inside to bring out all the workers she could find. All of them reacted in the same way. Including the special needs children who were doing a cleaning project. Later we toured the facility and talked about giving kindness and love. We didn’t specifically talk about sharing wonder, but that was the high point of the eclipse for me. Not seeing it myself, but seeing the delight in someone else’s experience of the heavenly wonders.

By the time we got to my friend’s house, the skies had cleared. She’d tried to watch it through a colander, but the holes were the wrong shape, leaf-shaped instead of round, and it didn’t work. But there was still about 25% left of the eclipse, so she and her family got to see it after all.

It’s wonderful to view such a rare and glorious phenomenon. It’s even more wonderful to make it possible for another person to have that same experience.

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Deborah’s Excellent Solar Eclipse Adventure — 3 Comments

  1. Part of the fun of watching the eclipse, for me, was the joining with others, complete strangers, in a common moment of awe and excitement. Also, I learned, to my amazement and amusement, that a Ritz cracker (or a Saltine) will work as a pinhole camera: the holes are round, and held at the correct angle you get a handful of perfect tiny projections of the eclipse.

    • That is very cool about the Ritz cracker. When I saw the annual eclipse in 2012, a physicist did the same thing with the grommet holes in his hat. But your cracker trumps his hat.

  2. I got a very nice projection with a pinhole on another piece of paper. But the colander holes were too large to get anything interesting, and there was enough haze to keep the light through the trees from showing good shadows. Sounds like you guys had great experiences!