So, we knew last Spring about The Great American Eclipse, which was scheduled to begin here in Marshall on August 21st at 1:10 pm. There had been a lot of build-up around here, with various folks hitting the media circuit to warn locals of the potential for thousands of extra folks to arrive along the line of the path of totality (where the sun would be blocked out for nearly 3 minutes with a neat “halo” effect around the rim).
Despite the preparation, there wasn’t much we could do about the weather. In the days leading up to August 21st, the forecast vacillated from “sunny and clear” to “thunderstorms” to “cloudy.” We proceeded as if we’d get to see it though, so Meg went to school and Brooke kept Calvin home, as the lab school wasn’t going to let a bunch of pre-schoolers outside to stare at the sun.
It was my first day of class, so while I went through syllabi as normal, I abbreviated my 1:00 class to make sure we’d get to stay outside and watch the eclipse.
While we were on vacation in Wisconsin, I ordered a special lens filter so I’d be able to get pictures of the sun. It’s the same material that we had in the eclipse glasses we had, but obviously big enough to cover my 52 mm lens. While our camera is aging rapidly (Nikon D60) and we only had a 200 mm zoom lens for it, I had hoped I’d be able to get something from it.
Sadly, at the time of totality, this was the best I could get. Literally, five more minutes is all we needed for the clouds to part and we would have seen it. Columbia, MO got to see all of it as the clouds pulled out a few minutes before totality was set to begin. Heck, even a few minutes out of town, people could see it just fine. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.
In the next few minutes after totality ended, I was able to get use the filter to get all the shots depicted in the composite at the top of the post. I was able to get some pretty good pictures out of that old camera! Just not as many as I wanted…
While I was on campus, Brooke stayed home with Calvin, as she didn’t want to brave traffic down to Sedalia (even though she would have gotten to see totality down there, apparently…). She tried a pinhole experiment using a strainer from the kitchen and actually got a pretty neat effect!
Calvin was at least initially interested in watching the eclipse, though at the time of totality, he was paying more attention to worms on the ground than what was happening in the sky.
Meg had a series of activities out at her elementary school, so she got a good learning experience out of it. They stayed outside through totality and for a few minutes afterward. They came out a few more times after the clouds parted so the kids could put on their glasses again.
Ultimately, we didn’t really notice thousands more people around town, though it did feel a bit more crowded. The skies got darker, the street lights came on a Monday afternoon, and a lot of students from far away got to experience something cool.
Thankfully, there’s another eclipse coming through Missouri on April 8, 2024. We’ll have to head to the Eastern part of the state to see it, and I’ll have to cancel class that Monday, but I hear it’s worth it!