An elusive eclipse

By Kate Habrel

Watching the eclipse in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Image: Jim Detjen

Watching the eclipse in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Image: Jim Detjen

Even weeks after August’s summer eclipse, people are still talking about it.
I was in Sussex, Wisconsin, with my family when it happened. I’d spent the month leading up to it reading stories of how spectacular it would be, even for those not in the path of totality.
Many looked forward to the eclipse in a similar manner.

“My husband has been looking forward to the eclipse for almost a year,” said Kareen Lubas, a staff member of the MSU School of Journalism. “When he was younger during the last solar eclipse, he was locked in a gym and unable to see it, so he felt like he needed to see it now. We knew we wanted to be in an area that experienced a total eclipse, so we decided to go to Nashville.”
“Many of us had individually kind of joked about the hype around the event, but we all thought it was cool to see,” said Marie Orttenburger, a writer and editor for Echo.
When the time finally came, everyone in my family stopped what they were doing. We gathered by the windows to witness day turned to night.
At least, that was what we had hoped to see. In reality, we were treated to a sky so gray it was impossible to tell where exactly the sun was supposed to be.
My family and I ended up watching most of the eclipse on TV. I couldn’t deny a sense of missing out on something spectacular.
Others had a similar experience to mine.
“It was dramatically unimpressive to me, although I wasn’t anywhere near the totality and clouds blanketed the sky, so my vision was a little skewed,” said Jack Nissen, a fellow Echo reporter. “Later in the day I saw images of the eclipse and my friend told me what it was like while in the moon’s shadow. Sounds like it’s something to definitely catch for future events.”
“Rain and heavy cloud cover here in Anchorage blocked all efforts to see the eclipse,” said Margaret Bauman, a fisheries reporter and Michigan State School of Journalism graduate. “Some areas of Alaska had a little better luck.”
Despite the overcast skies, some in the area managed to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.
“Clouds scudded across the eclipse scene, sometimes eclipsing the eclipse, as I watched with a group of MSU doctoral students and faculty on a sustainability study tour in Northwest Michigan,” said Eric Freedman, a Michigan State University professor and Knight Center director. “Our viewing began at a small park in LakeLeelanau where we were picnicking on Indian food, moved on to Shady Lane Cellars, a boutique estate winery we were visiting in Suttons Bay, and ended at Loma Farm, a small-scale vegetable farm near Traverse City. We shared our glasses with appreciative folks at the winery and farm.”
Waiting for the eclipse in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Image: Jim Detjen

Waiting for the eclipse in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Image: Jim Detjen

Orttenburger said “I was out to lunch with a coworker when the eclipse started. We were eating outdoors in Saugatuck, Michigan, and several people brought their eclipse glasses- -at least one brought a welding mask – to view the eclipse. It was quite overcast, but you could still see the sun through the clouds.
“Some of those who brought glasses offered to share with people at other tables who didn’t have them,” Orttenburger continued. “I had a pair back at the office, so had to wait before I could look up and see it myself. My coworker and I marveled at how strange it was to be surrounded by people looking up at something that you shouldn’t look at without proper eyewear. I returned to my place of work after lunch and brought out the eclipse glasses. I shared them with our entire office as we watched the eclipse peak.”
The view might have been disappointing to some. But for those who made the journey to places within the path of totality, the experience was unforgettable.
“We were at a cemetery in Kentucky right next to a drive in movie theater,” said Brittany Holmes, a graduate student at MSU. “As we got closer to the total eclipse, the light became very strange. It was almost if it was sunset and daylight at the same time. When we finally hit the total eclipse, people started cheering and clapping. It truly was spectacular and unlike anything I had ever seen.”
The moment of totality behind the clouds. Image: Kareen Lubas

The moment of totality behind the clouds. Image: Kareen Lubas

And Lubas said, “When we finally settled in, the moon had started to cover the sun. When the sun was about 80 percent covered, the temperature started to drop and it got drastically darker. The crickets started chirping, birds were flying to their nests and building lights were turning on. In the seconds leading up to moment of totality, everyone started screaming and cheering. When the moon finally moved over the sun, there was a beautiful diamond effect. We were able to enjoy the moment of totality for 30 seconds before a large cloud rolled in. We enjoyed experiencing such a memorable moment.”
Whether you ventured into the path of totality, watched it out your window or saw it on TV, the August 2017 eclipse was an event to remember. The next total eclipse to cross mainland America will happen on April 8, 2024.
When it does, I know I’ll make the journey to see it.

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