I mean, millions of words have been expended online about the eclipse, the science, the lead-up, the traffic. I could rehash all that because I was one of an estimated million people who went to Wyoming for the event. (Normal population of Wyoming: 480,000.)
You see the pictures and read the commentaries, and this is one of those things that entirely exceeds any expectation. The reason people in the know urge everyone to go see totality if you can: because it’s indescribable. Until you’ve seen it, you can’t know.
There’s a hole in the sky, with the purest white light emanating from it. There are stars in a darkened sky. There’s the pinkish orange haze of a sunset all the way around, a 360 degree dome of twilight. And then the stab of searing light at the top edge of the sun and the real world returns.
At our location, totality was set to last something like 2 minutes 30 seconds, give or take. I set the timer on my phone for 2 minutes and started it when totality started, so we’d have some warning when sunlight was about to come back, and so no one would have to check the time. I didn’t hear the timer go off. Someone else heard it. I couldn’t believe it. Fastest two minutes of my whole life.
I’ve always known about eclipse chasers: people who travel the world, seeking out the next location of totality, planning their lives around that next chance to experience a minute or two of cosmic wonder. I imagine after Monday there are thousands of new eclipse chasers. Next one in the continental U.S. is 2024. Start planning now.