|Goggle up! Science is about to happen.|
|4:30 AM comes early|
I wasn't sure how insane the totality plane would be, so I tried to make sure we were as prepared as possible. We filled both our vehicles all the way up with fuel roughly an hour outside of the plane, and everyone packed their lunch (as we figured local restaurants would be overwhelmed). I had a small Gatorade-style cooler full of ice water and had packed a watermelon as well. From what I had read, there was a possibility that cell networks in that area would be overloaded, even though Verizon and other carriers were bringing in portable towers to try to handle the capacity, so we brought along two-way radios to communicate between the vehicles. I even packed some toilet paper as a precaution. One can never be too prepared (false, but mostly accurate).
|Sure, we'll ride your bus!|
|The eclipse chasers: myself, Joel, John, Tanner, Haley, Krista, and Jeff|
|Watts Bar Lake|
We then began looking to stake out a spot to watch the eclipse, which would begin in a couple of hours. We found a trail that traced the shoreline of the lake and walked half a mile or so before finding a boat ramp and parking area that was partially shaded, yet had a good view of the lake and sun. We decided this would be our spot.
|Joel finds this spot to be acceptable|
|Prepping for shadows bands|
|Science! (And Jeff's baller shirt)|
|Haley tries the pinhole projector|
|The group. (Sorry, John and Jeff!)|
Around C2, everything started happening at once. The sky was rapidly getting dark, and we started seeing shadow bands on Anthony's sheet (not a guaranteed event, so it was awesome that we got to see it). As the last bit of the moon slid in front of the sun, we saw the "diamond ring" and "bailey's beads."
And then it was dark.
360 degree colored sunset.
In the middle of the afternoon.
Think about this for a minute. The moon and the sun are at perfect proportional distances from earth so that they appear, from our perspective on the surface, to be almost the exact same size in the sky, although the sun is roughly 400 times larger than the moon. This size alignment, along with their regular orbits in space, allows the moon to just barely totally eclipse the sun every so often, and creates this incredible phenomenon. It's almost like it was perfectly designed like this by Someone for our enjoyment.
In contrast to our trip down, the trip back home took us roughly eight hours. The traffic on the interstate was insane, with solid lines of cars in both lanes for as far as the eye could see. The southbound lane, on the other hand, was completely deserted, in comparison. Every so often, traffic would slow to a crawl and then stop completely, for no reason in particular. This occurred even hundreds of miles away from the totality plane. However, whenever this happened, inevitably one of us (me a lot of time) would giggle a little bit, and then say, "Worth it!"
Ten out of ten, would total solar eclipse again.