My experience with the great American eclipse and why you should make the effort to get in the path of totality in 2024

Ever since I was a kid I have wanted to experience a total solar eclipse. A few years ago I found out about the great American eclipse. Unlike the other solar eclipses that happen about every 18 months, this one was total and only about 6 hours from where I live. First came the debate of if I should get in the path of totality or stay home and watch as the moon covers almost 90% of the sun. I read articles from people who had seen total solar eclipses and they where saying that you should definitely get into the path of totality because it is the most amazing sight that nature has to offer. I wondered if these people were exaggerating, if 90% of the sun being covered and the whole sun being covered would make a big difference. What I also had to decide was who to go with where to watch it. I got lucky and my brother in law just happened to get 2 weeks off of work just in time for the eclipse. In the weeks before the eclipse I did a lot to prepare it. I bought a new lens, teleconverter, and a wireless shutter release se I could get better pictures of it. I also bought a few pairs of eclipse glasses. I used one of the pairs of glasses to make a solar filter. First I put a uv filter on my lens. A uv filter doesn’t have any effects. Photographers use the to protect their lenses. On top of that I put one of the lenses from the eclipse glasses. I then put my step down rings on the uv filter to hold the eclipse glasses lens in place and to block out unwanted light from coming in where eclipse glasses lens didn’t cover. I tested it out before the eclipse and it worked. That was only needed during the partial phases of the eclipse. The uv filter allowed me to quickly take off the eclipse glasses lens and step down rings in one piece when the eclipse hit totality and put it back on after totality. After I found out that my brother in law got the time off of work, I talked to him about the eclipse and we decided to drive to Carbondale Illinois to see the eclipse, since it was the closest place to home to see it and it was the place with the longest duration. Rather than paying a bunch money for a hotel room like a lot of people did, me and my brother a law decided to get up very early on the day of the eclipse and drive straight there. The eclipse wasn’t the only thing for me to look forward to that weekend. The final days before the eclipse were Westerndays. Westerndays is a fair that a church in my home town puts on every year in august. Westerndays made the decision of whether or not to get into the path of totality harder. Getting into the path of totality meant missing out on the fireworks on the last day of Westerndays that I look forward to every year. It would have also been fun time watch the Westerndays fireworks, then get up the next day and meet up with my social group and watch as the moon covers almost 90% of the sun. after debating I decided to get into the path of totality. I figured I have the opportunity to do it, the Westerndays fireworks will happen again in a year, and the eclipse wont happen again for almost 7 years. Also my brother in law may not be able to have the time off of work come the 2024 eclipse. On the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before the eclipse I had a fun time at Westerndays. Then on the day before the eclipse I skipped the last day of Westerndays and went to my brother in laws house so I could get to bed earlier. While I could have watched the fireworks and then went to my brother in laws house, I didn’t because then I would gotten only 3 hours of sleep at the most. I may have been up all night due to being so excited about the eclipse. After going to my brother in laws house we came to find out the that the weather wasn’t looking very good for Carbondale. They were talking about it being cloudy around the time of totality. my sister ended up finding the Hopkinsville Kentucky had a better chance of clear skies, so we decided to go there instead. It would have been a big disappointment if I would have went on a trip to get into the path of totality and then it ended up being too cloudy. On the morning of the eclipse me, my brother in law, and my nephews got up at 2 am and hit the road at 3 am. It didn’t take long to see our first thrill of the day. A little bit after getting on the road we drove through a thunderstorm and I got some good lightning pictures. When the sun came up it was good to see that the day was a least starting clear enough to see the eclipse. Luckily when eclipse time came it was still clear. Another thing I was worried about was the traffic. Before we left it was saying all over the news that traffic was going to be very bad on the morning of eclipse day. With the way the news was making it sound, I worried that we would end up having to watch the eclipse from the side of the highway due to not making it to Hopkinsville in time. Luckily it was smooth sailing all the way there except for some construction zones. Around 10 am we arrived at Hopkinsville. After worrying about getting there too late, we had 2 hours until the eclipse started. First we drove around town for a little bit. Then we stopped at a grocery store called the piggly wiggly to get snacks and drinks for the eclipse. It sure was a funny name for the store. We then went to a cemetery to watch the eclipse. I set up my camera stuff and then still had a few minutes left until the eclipse started. Around noon the moon or as some people believe rahu aka the black sun started coving the sun. while we were taught in school that it is the moon going in front of the sun, some Christians believe that is a dark celestial body called rahu going in front of the sun. these people also believe that the moon is not solid, is transparent, and is self luminescent. These people also believe that the moon landings were fake. I’m not sure if I believe this, but it is an interesting theory. In this article I am going to say that it is the moon going in front of the sun. I then watched as the moon covered more and more of the sun. I watched as it slowly got darker. I watched as the circles of light in the shadow some nearby trees turned to crescents. Then when we got down to only a sliver of the sun visible I took my homemade solar filter off my camera lens and I took pictures of the diamond ring effect, then baileys beads, then the eclipse hit totality. All of a sudden the strangely dimmed out day turned to twilight. A few stars came out. Venus became visible. The crickets started chirping and streetlights turned on. The suns corona put on a neat display. With the partial eclipse light still visible lower in the sky it was like a 360 degree sunset. The temperature even dropped a little bit, bringing some relief to the hot day. I took a few pictures of the total eclipse. As I was watching the total eclipse I was very amazed. I was glad that I missed the westerndays fireworks and got in the path of totality. I came to see that what I had read about totality was right. One thing that was strange was at totality, me and the people around me got a strange feeling in the stomach and got a little bit lightheaded. Watching as the moon covered almost 90% of the sun from home wouldn’t have been nearly as neat of an experience. After I took pictures I looked at the eclipse for the rest of totality. Then all of a sudden totality ended and the sun popped back out. The twilight turned back to the strangely dimmed out day. The stars faded, the crickets stopped chirping, and the streetlights turned back off. The days heat also came back. I then put my homemade solar filter back on my camera lens and took pictures as the moon moved off of the sun. I watched as the dimmed out day slowly turned back to a regular day. After seeing the total eclipse I agree with the people that say you should get into the path of totality. if you do not get into the path of totality, you missing out. While you can watch a live broadcast of the eclipse, it is not the same as actually witnessing it. Like an article I read said, watching a broadcast of an eclipse is like phoning in on your wedding. After getting into the path of totality of this eclipse, I will definitely be getting into the path of the 2024 solar eclipse if I get the opportunity to. I will not be debating it like I did this one. I will not give up the opportunity to get into the path totality for some annual event back at home. After watching the eclipse we went out to eat. Then we drove down to New Orleans. We stayed in a hotel. The next day we drove around the city. Then we ate at a restaurant. Then we drove to Memphis and stayed in a hotel there. Then the next day we drove the rest of the way home. That is my experience with the great American eclipse. After all the things could have gone wrong, I would say that everything worked out for the best.   

-Timelapse Sunset- This is a picture made out of a series of pictures I took.

-Timelapse Eclipse-
This is a picture made out of a series of pictures I took.



The eclipse day thunderstorm, luckily not during the eclipse.



The total eclipse.



The diamond ring effect.



The partial eclipse with my homemade solar filter.


© James Leslie - Autistic Eye Art-The world through at autistic eye.
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