The Great American Eclipse of 2017 is over, but people still want to share their stories of where they were, how long they experienced totality and of course their most memorable moments. I hope you enjoy My Total Solar Eclipse Experience 8-21-2017 in pictures. As an amateur photographer, I’d like to add that the photos in this post have not been enhanced in any way (except for the long vertical one). They are exactly how my camera saw it, how I saw it and how we’ll see it together. FUN!
My View in Southwestern Illinois
My eclipse viewing was in Western Illinois, approximately 35 miles from my home, on a piece of land owned by an organization called Clifftop. This group promotes the preservation and conservation of the Mississippi River bluffs located in the Illinois counties of Monroe, Randolph, and St. Clair. Clifftop is an acronym for Conserving Lands in Farm, Forest, Talus or Prairie. My Brother Paul (#6) and his wife Sally are members of this group and Maggie, and I got to tag along.
The beautiful piece of land that you’ll see in the pictures was purchased by Clifftop to prevent the land from being subdivided by a developer. Clifftop knew that part of 535-acre farm sat atop the Fogelpole Cave system which is the 51st largest cave in the U.S., and Illinois’ most biologically diverse cave. The group worked diligently to secure grants making it possible for them to purchase it. George Obernagel, President of Clifftop states, “The Fogelpole Cave system is a nearly-pristine subterranean wilderness.” To think that caves and water systems are running under parts of this land in Monroe county is mind boggling not to mention the specific life forms and endangered species that can exist there. Clifftop works to preserve this piece of land bringing it back to its natural beauty and protecting the underground wilderness that lies beneath it. You can read about Monroe County’s Karst-sinkhole plain by clicking HERE Scroll down to see maps showing the location. You can also read the page about Fogelpole Cave from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources HERE
In the picture above, Maggie gets a lesson from Paul about the flowers and grasses native to the area. The skyline you see in this picture is where we viewed the sunset during the eclipse.
It was soo hot! People gravitated to the shaded areas and then moved as we drew closer to the eclipse.
The picture above is the tree line where we set up camp. The field that Paul and Maggie were standing in is to the right/west of the photo.
This group moved in next to us. They had quite the spread and came prepared. Most people were there by 11:00 a.m. and the total eclipse did not happen until approximately 1:15 central time, so we all experienced the noon meal in extreme heat with sweat dripping down our backs. So worth it!
Totally A Field Trip
This particular Clifftop sponsored field trip was opened to 200 people and came with presentations. The first presentation was from a scientist. Dr. Michael J. Krawczynski, from the department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Wahington University, St. Louis, and his team set up shop; I think the night before. They were filming everything with their telescopes and had the exact times for all phases of the eclipse. They didn’t miss a beat. Dr. Krawczynski gave a presentation on exactly what to expect and of course the main thing- when we could take off our eclipse glasses. He directed us on the time of the first contact for our location which was 11:50 a.m. (the moon’s first touch or coverage of the sun) and then, of course, 2nd contact, when the moon completely covers the sun which was totality at 1:15 p.m. It was Dr. Krawczynski’s first total solar eclipse, and his level of excitement matched ours plus some. He was a young scientist.
Science Meets Spirituality and Mythology
The second presentation was by Rev. Sheldon Culver, a retired minister from the Illinois South Conference United Church of Christ. She spoke about the stories and pictures of long ago depicting an eclipse disrupting the established order. For the people of ancient times, the sun represented life and energy. An eclipse was like the end of time making it a terrifying experience. I’ve included articles for more in-depth reading.
- National Geographic Solar Eclipse Myths From Around The World
- The eclipse: From ancient pagans to American history, it’s been a thing
For me, I wanted to know what was happening in the liturgical year on this particular day. In Christianity, the liturgical year is set by the moon. What were the readings, what was the message and who was the saint of the day? I guess you could say this is my established order. The readings were about the ten commandments and the saint of the day was Pope Pius the X. Both are very relevant to me in many ways.
And there was music. Thank you, Jerry Wylie, for providing music. It added a lot to our anticipation and noon meal.
An iPhone Experience
The picture above was taken with my iPhone. Everyone was trying it at least once and me a little more. I held my eclipse glasses over the camera lens on my phone and hoped for the best. Most pictures would be just the sun, not showing any parts of the moon. I had no idea this picture was on my phone until just a few days ago. I think it’s cool.
The sunset had to be the beginning of eclipse awesomeness for me. Dr. Krawczynski prepared us for the changing cloud colors, and when it started, you could feel and hear the movement in everyone’s attentiveness. We knew at that point that we were barely at a minute before the total eclipse. I started thinking; where do I want to be standing, who do I want to be near during this momentous occasion, where should my focus be, and of course how do I maintain calm. Even with the changes around us happening so fast, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
My Total Solar Eclipse Experience 8-21-2017
WOW- how beautiful is this? In one sky the sunset and then above us a total solar eclipse. In hind sight, I wish I would have been recording the voices of awe that surrounded me. People were pointing out the changes around us making it impossible to miss a thing. Bats came flying out of the tree line. The cicadas made themselves known, and there was a lot of – oh my goodness and oohs and awes.
2 minutes and 28 seconds of Totality
My total solar eclipse experience was the fastest 2 minutes and 28 seconds ever. We were blessed with clear skies in our little spot of Illinois. Some areas along the line for totality had partial cloud cover. I called down to Makanda, Il., to check on their skies and Dave Dardis said yes, it was sunny. Makanda was expecting thousands of people because of their 2 minutes and 40 seconds of totality. You can read that post HERE.
Today’s post is the finishing touch to a little eclipse history. We’re fortunate to have one coming our way in 2024, but who knows what the skies will be like that day and where we will be. For now, we have memories and pictures. I hope you’ve enjoyed this and please consider leaving a comment about your eclipse experience. If you didn’t see the eclipse, what did you think of all the coverage and the stories?
Thanks for stopping by, Rose