Board member Dan Zucker writes: Well! That was my first ‘totality’ in person. We were at 12,500’ elevation in the Wind River range of WY.
After reading about the experience for the last 40 years, I knew this much going in: I knew what to look for before/during (sharp shadows, corona features, stars/planets, etc.) I knew it would get weird or supernatural as the shadow passed over (dark, temp change, etc.) I knew that one has to experience it to understand the ‘weird’ or ‘supernatural’ aspect of it which was clearly hard to communicate.
That last one was really the punchline. I thought my brain was going to fry. It was like when Frodo puts on The One Ring and stares into the eye of Sauron. It took everything I had to drop my gaze to my surroundings and take in the crazy twilight and then look back into the black hole. I’m pretty sure the space lizards knew they were communicating with me telepathically.
Here are a few things I learned, some of which I didn’t really fathom from my various readings of the phenomena: the diamond ring effect (which we saw at the end of totality) starts as a pinprick and in less than what seemed like .25 seconds explodes like a nuclear bomb blast - forcing a super-fast return to using the eclipse glasses. The coronal streamers ‘pop out’ immediately at totality, and the streamers and prominences and other features above the photosphere actually appear to be subtly dynamic to the naked eye, in the manner of aurorae. The suggestion that benighted non-Europeans were in terror or awe in a way that the enlightened scientists were not is total baloney. My seven companions and I were completely awestruck.