Aug. 22, 2017 - So I had -- & took full advantage of -- the opportunity to see my first ever full solar eclipse - Summerton, SC., Aug. 21st.
In a nutshell: a spectacle to behold. It is Heavenly, no matter what your faith .... or perhaps lack thereof.
My favorite from the day:
1. sharing the day/experience & eclipse with my 16 year old daughter
2. totality is like the flip of a switch
3. the diamond ring effect just before & right after totality
4. lightning illuminating the cumulonimbus clouds to our east & southeast.
So a lot to try to put into words here, but I wanted to post something while the experience is still fresh. I will say it was an arduous day-and-a-half. We (Russ Pyne, videographer & my daughter) drove to Savannah early Sunday evening... up @ 5:30am.... on the road by 7am & not home until 2am Tue.! In that time we laughed, shed a tear or two, sweat, worked hard, drank a lot of soda & water, ate pretty well & met/talked with a lot of nice people. I did numerous live hits for Action News & News 104.5 WOKV + recorded several stories about the day that aired on Action News Jax. The work reminded me of hurricane Matthew last year though not as grueling & not with the weight of potential death & destruction hanging over my head & weighing on my shoulders.
So Mon. ("eclipse day" as I like to call it) dawned partly sunny & warm. We rolled north on I-95 -- Action News Jax Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Garrett Bedenbaugh met us that morning at the hotel -- with surprisingly little traffic reaching our destination within 2 hours doing live shots for t.v. & radio all the way to Summerton. We had pre-arranged our spot with Dennis Turner at the Lake House Restaurant which is adjacent to campground on Lake Marion just north of the I-95/I-26 interchange. Dennis & his wife, Melanie could not have been more accommodating, & we parked our First Alert Storm Tracker right off the walkway to a large dock. The sun would go just about overhead at totality. The only potential problem: the weather. I decided we had to make a strategic decision no later than 11am at which time I declared "we stay put"! And oh were we treated to a cosmic show!
There were a surprising number of Jacksonville folks at our location which gave us a good opportunity to put a local skew on the day's events. The partial eclipse began about 1:15pm EDT, ending about 4:15pm with totality at 2:43pm lasting 2 min. & 32 sec. The last live interview I did a bit past 2pm included several from Jacksonville, & we had fun turning to the east & "blowing" the cumulus clouds away. And it worked! :) The skies were almost perfectly clear overhead leading up to.... through.... & shortly after totality. Shadows grew longer... we saw the beautiful crescent shadows on the ground produced by leaves in trees... a gentleman was projecting the sun's image onto white paper through binoculars... a man & family were setting up a tripod with a zoom lens camera... some were simply lounging... others eating & drinking. But it was a feeling of anticipation + good ol' camaraderie even though most of us did not know one another beyond simply showing up at the same place to watch the "show".
By 2:30pm, the shadows were growing long & there was somewhat of a "dusky" appearance to the sky & horizon. There certainly was a buzz among the crowd. The owner of the restaurant shut down the kitchen 'til 3pm so his employees could watch the eclipse. Then - seemingly with the snap of a finger, the flick of a light switch - the shadow moved overhead & instantly day turned into night.
It is hard to explain the feeling & the sights of a full solar eclipse. You just about have to be there yourself. I was in awe (one of the first things my daughter said).... & - yes - I was choked up. Shivers went down spine. I gathered my senses & talked way too loud about what was happening (for t.v.), but I'll never forget that instant darkness... the shining "diamond ring"... the beautiful corona - seemingly an angelic glow (for lack of a better term, I guess) surrounding the sun so neatly hidden by the dark moon... the gasps of the people... the clapping & whoops... the distant lightning... & the glowing tops of thunderstorm clouds. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it's almost an existential experience full of sensory moments that one will never forget not to mention rarely feel.
Then seemingly everyone just packed up & hit the road. Just like that! Ha - I was shocked how quickly people left once totality was over. To be expected I guess.
So this morning... I finally had a chance to look at my 83X Wide Nikon camera which my daughter was in charge of throughout the day. She told me last evening she "didn't get a lot". What a pleasant surprise when I downloaded the images to my computer - fantastic! There are beautiful still shots, wonderful video including one where you can hear all the bugs & insects "communicating".... & she caught moments while I was working, people simply milling around... the sky & clouds... the two of us together. It's a chronicle of the day I otherwise would not have or even be able to recall. What a wonderful gift as I looked through the pics & videos. Longtime priceless memories forever frozen in the digital world.
And now the countdown to the next U.S. Lower 48 full solar eclipse on April 8, 2024 - 6 years, 7 months, 17 days as of this writing. :)
Sun. evening leaving the station...
Met the Boyd family from Fleming Island at our hotel in Savannah...
Breakfast early Mon. with folks from Jacksonville.....
From the patio of the Lake House restaurant:
The Jacksonville residents that blew the cumulus clouds away :) ....
The start of the eclipse with Garrett & videographer Russ....
Crescent shadows formed from leaves on a tree above....
Totality by Russ Pyne:
Traffic on I-95 south!
Not only is there another Lower 48 full solar eclipse in 2024 (65% in Jacksonville), there's another one a mere 21 years later (99% in Jax!):
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