My Favorite Part About the Solar Eclipse Wasn’t the Eclipse

Here in Seattle, we skirted the line of totality capturing a 92 percent partial eclipse. It’s nothing like the two-and-a-half minutes of daylight darkness that consumed Madras, Oregon just south of us, but it was enough to warrant stepping outside of the office to look at the sky.

I didn’t have any eclipse glasses of my own, but I stumbled upon a crowd outside the hilltop library just down the street from me. The community had gathered to pass around homemade cereal box viewers and pin hole paper plate designs, as well as the coveted certified eclipse glasses that sold out from stores weeks ago.

I watched shadows get crisper. I marveled at the little crescent moons on the sidewalk from the leafy trees. I saw the orange sun nearly obscured.

Watching this phenomenon was a memorable experience, but it wasn’t this magnificence in nature that astounded me so. It was the people taking it all in.

The crowd was filled with young and old, future budding scientists and grandparents who told of the eclipses they’d seen in their lifetime. It was filled with sharing and small talk and a genuine appreciation for Mother Nature.

Science–my career, my passion–is under so much attack in this country. People are filled with so much rage and hate in this world. But here was a moment where everyone for miles stopped what they were doing and looked toward the sun.

As I rode my bike to work, the sidewalks were still flowing with faces turned upward, brief moments taking in the sun and the moon as time seemed to stand still. As people passed their eclipse glasses from stranger to stranger and explained–educated–to the curious just exactly how this celestial marvel was possible, a sense of unity overwhelmed me.

You’ll notice I didn’t take any photos of the eclipse. Some experiences are meant to only be captured in our hearts and our minds. For me, the calming feeling that surrounded me couldn’t be captured through a lens, yet that is the part I’ll remember most.

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10 thoughts on “My Favorite Part About the Solar Eclipse Wasn’t the Eclipse”

  1. I completely agree. Everyone in our office gathered outside and chatted as we passed around glasses and it was a really special moment. Glad you enjoyed the eclipse.

  2. We watched the changing shades of color from our living room. At the height of the eclipse a marine layer moved in as the temperature cooled. Ah a mist on the moors. Seeing on television and Facebook the multitudes of onlookers staring at the sun with their silly looking square glasses reminds me of a music video from the 80s.

  3. I too was thrilled with the amount of participation. I got to work and went to watch the NASA livestream, bummed I didn’t get glasses. To my surprise, work had purchased a bundle for everyone to use, and we spent an hour up on the rooftop together watching. We had even called a business in the morning looking for something and they had an out of office saying they were closed until 11 to watch. It’s so great to see everyone so excited about science and taking this once in a lifetime event in!

    1. That is so wonderful to hear! I got all tingly reading that! Thank you so much for sharing, and hats off to your office for helping provide a memorable experience! 🙂

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