Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017. Photo by Dustin Hodges (Omigod, Dibs!)
Date: Monday, August 21, 2017
Time: Approximately 10:30 AM-CST
Location: Tomball, Texas
I had been anticipating this day for some time now. The media had been all over the subject for weeks, especially over the weekend and at the end of the previous week. I’d been getting my experiments ready over the weekend and had been setting them up all morning in the back yard in preparation for the celestial event. It’d been 38 years since the last one and almost 100 years since totality was visible from coast to coast. I didn’t take a road trip to anywhere, although I really wanted to go somewhere further north to see totality. I just didn’t have the opportunity, so I had to settle for my backyard, this time.
My wife somehow obtained two pairs of certified protective glasses that were marketed specifically for the event. Flipping the paper ear rests open of the glasses I looked across the glossy finish of the cardboard design that said ECLIPSE USA on one side and GET MOONED on the other. The broad portion of the front of the glasses where the frame rested on the bridge of the nose read 08.21.17. The other pair of glasses simply read ECLIPSE.
I was getting anxious. I was excited about my first solar eclipse, even though where I was standing wouldn’t provide a location for full totality or full solar eclipse, where the moon completely covers the line of sight of the sun to the observer. I was still in excitement of hopes of catching a glimpse of the crossing and was relieved that there wasn’t too much cloud cover for the day. It was warm out already too, around the mid-80s, but what would I expect for a late August morning in southeast Texas? I was expecting to be out a couple hours or so too, so I’d be in even warmer conditions forecasted to be with a high of 93° later in the day, with added humidity. Perfect.
As for my experiments, I was using some old cardboard shipping boxes from Amazon® I had lying around to try my hand in seeing the eclipse without looking directly at the sun. The only protection I had was the cheap glasses my wife gave me and I didn’t want to hurt my eyes trying to take a glimpse at it directly with the naked eye. I was even using my old telescope as a make-shift eclipse viewer and it actually worked perfectly! All I had done was taken the viewing lens out so that it wouldn’t interfere with projecting the shadow image onto a piece of cardboard I affixed to the scope. Worked like a charm. The telescope eclipse viewer was actually the best out of all my viewer experiments. Out of curiosity, I had taken one of the protective glasses for viewing the eclipse and cut a lens out to place over a lens of a camera I had to take photos and time lapse video. You could see the sun, but the images weren’t quite clear. It would have been great to have had a pair of Sunoculars so that I could really have a great close up view of the eclipse without the worry of damaging my eyes. With a pair of Sunoculars I could have looked at the eclipse directly and magnify what I was looking at up to 8X, all without the worry of eye damage.
Telescope set up. Photo by Dustin Hodges (Omigod, Dibs!)
The great anticipation and anxiety had begun to build even more once I looked at the clock and saw that it was time to commence the experiments, to start turning on cameras and begin the process of observation. By the time the action started, there were some big white fluffy clouds in the sky that would move their way into my line of sight to the Sun and Moon’s celestial dance, but they’d quickly move on by to allow the show to continue. It was still quite bright out and time felt like it had slowed down, which gave the illusion that I had plenty of time to perform what I was doing. I had my ASTER™ shirt on, a shirt that I had made just before the event for my hobby website I had built months before. ASTER™ was an acronym I had made for my site which stood for Aerospace, Science, Technology, Energy, and Robotics. It was a site I designed and built from the ground up to share ideas, thoughts and interests of all things the acronym stood for. It was a great year, but unfortunately it didn’t seem to gather many like-minded people at the time and I had to let it go, but in an attempt to share my love of science I had all available cameras rolling just for this event to share with others who did appreciate it. I have a feeling ASTER™ will be back again though, someday.
AsterUniverse.com. Photo by Dustin Hodges (Omigod, Dibs!)
It seemed that quite a bit of time had already passed by the time the real action began. How much time had passed, I am unsure. There was a noticeable change in the immediate surroundings of my back yard. There had seemed to be changes visually in the sense that it looked as if it were getting later in the day, like when the sun is beginning to go down on the horizon, but you could clearly see and sense the sun was still high up in the sky. There were several hours of daylight left, but it was looking like dusk. The real odd thing that stood out to me was the well-defined shadows of everything around me, including my own. It seemed to be sunset, yet the sun was high in the sky and the shadows shown as if it were noon, not late in the evening. I immediately thought to myself that I wanted to capture the feeling and imagery on camera, but the film and pictures I took never came close to capturing the true experience of seeing it all with my own eyes. I looked at the cardboard under the lens hole of my telescope, readjusted the position a bit and then saw what I had been waiting for. On the cardboard I could clearly see the imagery, the shadow of the moon across the bright light of the sun. I wasn’t seeing totality, of course, but I could definitely see the crescent sun made by the crossing of the moon.
Image of Solar Eclipse through telescope on cardboard. Photo by Dustin Hodges (Omigod, Dibs!)
I quickly went up to the porch, maneuvering my way between boxes and chairs to grab the second pair of protective glasses I hadn’t yet cut apart for science. I wore them over my seeing glasses and immediately realized I couldn’t see a thing with them on. I needed to slip them off and get to a stance in the yard first before I donned the eclipse glasses over my corrective vision. The clouds had made their way across my field of vision by the time I stepped back out onto the grass from the cover of the porch, but as put my eclipse glasses on and looked up to witness the partial eclipse they began to trail away enough so that I could see through them and see the sun and moon with my protective glasses.
This is it. Wow, how amazing was this?! I was observing with my own eyes a large spherical rock, not of earth, crossing my line of sight of an even larger celestial object hundreds of thousands to millions of miles apart from one another. It was truly an otherworldly experience in those few moments I was there just watching this spectacle.
It wasn’t long after this experience I began to wonder when another opportunity like this would occur to witness within the United States. According to GreatAmericanEclipse.com, “The next total solar eclipse in the Americas comes on April 8, 2024.” The website goes on to say that, “Totality first touches Mexico, enters the United States at Texas, cuts a diagonal to Maine, and visits the maritime provinces of Canada.” This is why I’m particularly excited about eclipse 2024, because it first hits my home state of Texas that day! This is also why, unlike in 2017, I am preparing far in advance for the observation of this eclipse, about 5 years in the making! I’m preparing for time, exact setup location(s), back up location(s), equipment, what it is I want to observe, how I am going to observe it, how I’m going to document it all, anything and everything I could possibly do to prepare for an epic totality event in 2024. I call it my ultimate cosmos road trip, for now. The name is tentative. This time around, God willing, I’ll get to experience it with my daughter, who will be 6 by that time. She wasn’t around yet to be with her daddy to experience the first go-around back in 2017.
An event like this can truly be a fantastic family time experience, one that will last a lifetime in memory. It’s something that not all get to experience, and if they do, maybe once or twice in their lifetime, unless they have the means to hop around the globe when events like this occur from time to time. 2024 will be right here in our backyard of the U.S., an event that will be over 100 years in the making.
I hope that by sharing my story here has inspired you to want to experience the eclipse in 2024. Maybe you could even begin to make your road travel plans to get in a prime location to observe this coming magical event. I hope that you’ll take your family and friends along for the ride. Maybe you could get you all some matching t-shirts. At OmigodDibs.com you can find t-shirts unique to your home state, if you happen to live in a state that’ll see totality. Maybe you’ll visit a state that will see totality in 2024 and you’re looking for a shirt to commemorate your time there to see the eclipse. OmigodDibs.com offers a wide variety of unique styles and designs of t-shirts, and even hats all dedicated to the coming eclipse of 2024.
If you’re someone who doesn’t know much about eclipses and the history and science behind them, OmigodDibs.com offers a wide selection of reading material dedicated to the topic and even material for preparing for totality in specific states in 2024, like Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma, New York, and Ohio. If you are planning a road trip somewhere to see the eclipse at that time, you can use a Road Atlas for the Total Solar Eclipse of 2024 as a guide for the perfect places across the United States to be able to see the eclipse.
There’s obviously a lot you can do in preparation before the eclipse of 2024 and if you are looking for somewhere to help in your preparations for your road trip to solar eclipse 2024, there’s no other place like OmigodDibs.com to find what you need. Just visit the Recommendations page and you can find a dedicated page just for the Eclipse 2024. If you’re in need of shirts, hats, books, protective eye wear, stickers and more, look no further than the one-stop pit-stop for all your road trip and eclipse 2024 essentials at OmigodDibs.com.
If you’re planning a road trip for Eclipse 2024, let me know! I’d love to hear all about it! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you found anything expressed here helpful or entertaining, please share this with your friends and family. Let’s get a major convoy going across America for us all to enjoy and see Eclipse 2024!