The Great American Eclipse

Millions of people had the pleasure of viewing the Great American Eclipse on Monday. Many thousands of people, including several members of the High Performance Tutoring team, traveled hundreds of miles to find a place near the center of totality. Below we share 7 most incredible parts of our experience.

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1. DARKNESS: It didn’t take long for the sun to go from 90% covered to 100%. While it was getting noticeably darker even by 60% coverage (similar to the solar intensity on the Martian surface), the majority of darkening happened in the last few minutes. It was as if somebody in the sky decided to suddenly dim the lights. It wasn’t pitch black like it is at night time, it looked more like dusk, but it was dark enough to see Venus, Mercury, and Mars.

2. SHADOW: During the last 20 seconds or so before totality, a shadow raced across the planes. It was obvious when the lights of distant antennas began to blink, and then the closer ones began to blink, and so on until the vast plain was completely covered in shadow. It raced towards us at around one kilometer per second.

3. NASA PLANE: NASA flew a plan through the exact center of totality as the shadow passed through US airspace. We were close enough to the exact center that we could see the plane fly almost directly overhead. It wasn’t very high above the mountain we were on, but it was cool to watch it whiz by at around Mach 2 when totality began from our location.

4. THE ECLIPSE: When the sun was no longer visible through our solar glasses, we took them off and whiteness the most unbelievable and unnatural thing we’ve ever seen. There was a black circle in the sky with sun rays protruding out in all directions. The rays were bright but not blinding like the sun. Nor were they straight or static. They looked like a bunch of illuminated white hair that was swimming in the dark blue water behind a perfectly black circle. For those two minutes, it felt like this incredible object in the sky was trying to communicate with us. As if it was responsible for dimming the lights earlier to get our attention, and now it had something it wanted to say.

5. HORIZON: The horizon looked like it normally would about 20 minutes after sunset. However, it looked like this in every direction, not just to the west. The haze in the sky made it particularly beautiful.

6. VISIBILITY: An observant group of locals standing near us exclaimed they could see the Grand Tetons, which were about 80 miles from our location. Apparently, this mountain range in Wyoming was not ordinarily visible from where we were standing. However, because of the eclipse, the sun was not illuminating the haze, clouds, or atmosphere for many miles around us, so we had a relatively unobstructed view of the Tetons. They were an amazing feature on the horizon to the east, though they gradually darkened as totality caught up.

7. THE DIAMOND: The end of the 2 minutes and 17 seconds of totality was marked by a piercing white dot that seemed to penetrate a single point along the circumference of the black circle in the sky. It reminded me of a shiny diamond on the end of a ring. It quickly overshadowed the white sun rays and it was difficult to look right at it for more than a second. However, Venus remained visible in the sky for a couple minutes more.

We would love to hear about your own experience with the Eclipse. Please share with us in the comments below.

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