We all know there was recently an eclipse. Being a complete space geek I took the chance to truly experience the eclipse by driving to Missouri to be in the totality zone. This 70 mile zone makes all the difference in what you do and do not see during the eclipse.
After driving 15 hours in two days for an event shorter than three minutes, I have exactly zero regrets and would recommend everyone does it for the next total solar eclipse in the continental U.S.
We ended up watching the eclipse from a park in Columbia Missouri. We were anticipating severe traffic jams and parking being full almost everywhere. We ended up worrying for nothing, there was next to no traffic and we easily found a parking spot at an awesome park with a water park and lake!
A few experiences which were phenomenally cool in the totality were:
The Temperature dropped significantly: I didn't necessarily think about the potential for the temperature feeling cooler. As the phasing got about half way to totality, I definitely started to feel less heat from the sun. Once the totality began, the ambient air felt much colder and the temperature actually dropped significantly. It was roughly 90 degrees before totality and was in the low 70s when we got back in the car. Amazing!
360 degree sunset: This one I knew would happen. Once the eclipse went into complete totality, every direction I looked was once of the most beautiful sunsets I've seen. Every direction had a red/pink glow and really emphasized to me just how worth it the totality zone was.
Bugs got really loud: I know that many bugs such as Bees use the sun's position to navigate to and from their homes. The eclipse must have confused some of the insects in the area as the sounds from bugs got much louder. There were a lot of crickets chirping and the locusts were very noticeably droning. This was completely unexpected by me!
The Solar Eclipse Ring: As pretty much any solar eclipse picture shows, there's the ring around the moon from the Sun's Corona. Because the Corona is so large, you see it and it's trails around the edge of the moon. While we had a small amount of overcast that prevented us from seeing details of the corona, we still saw the ring around the moon which was a sight that will forever stay with me. Imagining how someone thousands of years ago would have felt looking up and seeing that, without understanding what an eclipse is gave me such a sense of wonder about the eclipse.
All told, the drive may have been 300x longer than the actual eclipse, but Eclipse 2017 just has me looking forward to Eclipse 2024 even harder! Next time, more people should make the trek and truly make traffic as much of a nightmare as I was prepared for! Everyone should experience the complete totality of a solar eclipse!