This Monday I was able to witness one of the greatest things I will ever see in my life. And on top of that, the experience I had made this one a story I will tell for the rest of my life.
In March of 2015 while I was in England, I was able to see a partial, and one with a lot of coverage. Over 90% if I remember correctly. It was pretty cool, all the church workers there went outside for about an hour or so and poked holes in paper because we didn’t have those fancy eclipse glasses.
While that was cool, it wasn’t something that was going to stick with me for the rest of my life. It was just another cool thing I’ve seen in my life.
Earlier this year, my dad (who is a huge astronomy nut!) started to get excited about this one. We started to make plans to go, researching all the possible locations we could go to see totality.
So fast forward to now. We decided on Kansas City because it was the closest to Dallas, but we felt uneasy. Other than west of Wyoming, most of the path of totality was forecast for clouds and maybe even rain.
The original plan was to go to St. Joseph, north of KC, but the morning of we called an audible and head east where the forecast said there would be less chance of rain and fewer clouds. We found our way to a town called Boonville about 100 miles east of KC. There was a small airport that closed for the day and hosted a viewing party.
Everything looked great as the partial started. Some clouds, but not too thick. But as moon crawled across the sun, clouds started coming in! With about 25 minutes to go until totality, the clouds completely covered the sun with no break in sight.
Honestly, at this point, I had accepted the fact that we weren’t going to see it. Not only was I feeling down, but I felt bad for my dad who has been looking for this almost a year (he is known as the “eclipse guy” at work).
Then, as if we were being taunted, less than five minutes before totality, rain started falling. After a moment, my dad decided to walk to the truck nearby to get the umbrella.
THEN!!! With less than 2 minutes, with rain still falling, a break in the clouds. With the eclipse glasses on, we could see just a sliver of the sun. I yelled at my dad to get back! We might see it after all!!
A small cloud breezed through but passed with just seconds to go. Then like it was a miracle, clear sky. The total was so close you could actually see the sun disappear through the glasses.
Then it happened! Darkness enveloped us, we ripped our glasses off! TOTALITY! For 2 minutes and 39 seconds, Jesse Viertel Airport saw a total solar eclipse!
Words can not describe that view. Words can not describe that experience.
We’ve all seen pictures, maybe even video. But it doesn’t do it justice.
A few week ago, I watched a TED talk by David Baron where he said that “You owe it to yourself to see a Total Eclipse at least once in your life.” I 100% agree with this statement. The partial I saw in 2015 over 90% coverage. While it was cool, but it was nowhere near the experience I had seeing totality. So if you only saw a partial on Monday and were underwhelmed, don’t let that stop you from trying to see a total in the future.
“Drama” aside, totality was breathtaking, I was almost in tears. Some were. The others in that little airport in Boonville were hollering and yelling, hugging and high-fiving. For 2 minutes and 39 seconds, the moon covered the sun, day became night, and you could see the sun’s corona shining brightly around the moon. Truly one of the most amazing things you could ever see.
It was spectacular. The next total solar in the States is in 2024 and I echo Mr. Baron’s sediment – you owe it to yourself to see a total solar eclipse.