My Experience With A Total Solar Eclipse

My Experience With A Total Solar Eclipse

Robbie Theer’nigor


Bevohd (Behold)! This is my second sighting of a solar eclipse yet the first total solar eclipse I saw through my own eyes. My first sighting of a solar eclipse was in the sunrise of November 3rd, 2013 (the first day that Daylight Savings Ended), and both the sun and the moon were at the full-bodied Scorpius at that time. The skies were clear, and I was able to sungaze for a whole 32 minutes and 20 seconds.

However, the second sighting was different than the first one. The setting was mid-day at August 21st, 2017, and looking at the mid-day sun can permanently damage your eyes (in par with the rules of sungazing). Both the sun and the moon was at the Huntress Constellation when the total eclipse happened, near the Regulus Star. The weather was mostly cloudy with some thunderstorms from a far distance, yet the sun was visible thanks to the shadow. To substitute for looking at the mid-day sun, I used a camera with mathematical calculations to get the full picture of the eclipse and used the Stellarium App (you get this for $2.99 for Apple and $2.49 for Android) to watch the solar eclipse. Please note that I did not use any solar eclipse glasses, even approved by NASA.

This all started when I was leaving the house around 12:15 pm (note: I am at Eastern Standard Time). I used both my bike and bike trailer to pack my sleeping bag, some snack, sleeping mat, camera tripod, a tent, a gallon of distilled water, and many other things (related essay: The Moneyless Manifesto). So anyways, I left the house to bike around to check for the correct weather conditions, especially for a presence of a thunderstorm. There were some thunderstorms, but not threatening close by. Lasting no more than 15 minutes, I finally setup my base camp on the front yard after biking.

For a few minutes to no more than half an hour, I was relaxing in the tent. The weather was hot; the real feel was 96 degrees, and the humidity was high. I was sweating because of this. I finally cooled down after a few minutes.

Sometime after 1:00 pm yet before 1:11 pm, I began to setup my tripod and camera, using mathematical calculations. Earth (Geeth) rotates roughly at 15 degrees an hour (or a degree every four minutes), I had to align the camera with the shadow made by the sun, and I was doing this frequently. The sun’s latitude position was at 11.66 degrees North; based on where I am, I position the angle of the camera at 68.11 degrees. I then began taking pictures of the sun prior to the solar eclipse entry at 1:17 pm, at a rate of per minute or a couple minutes to prevent the camera from turning off itself. A couple times I took videos, the last one being the total solar eclipse entry. Also, at the same time, I was watching out for thunderstorms with the DarkSky App ($3.99 for Apple).

The magnitude of the moon was at 5.27 at the beginning of the eclipse, and the magnitude of the sun stayed constantly at -26.72 throughout the whole eclipse. After 15 minutes of entry, the magnitude of the moon then changed to 5.88 at 1:32 pm. Then at 1:47 pm, the lunar magnitude then changed to 6.58. At 2:02 pm, the lunar magnitude increased to 7.48. At 2:17 pm, the lunar magnitude was at then 8.85 and rising slightly faster. However at 2:32 pm, the magnitude increased to 11.00, rising much faster at around a rate of 0.01 magnitude a second. By 2:37, the lunar magnitude was at 12.17. By 2:42, the magnitude was at 14.55, increasing the rate about a magnitude per half second. As every minute passed, the rate of the lunar magnitude kept increasing. From 2:46 to 2:47 (nearly 2:48), the lunar magnitude went from 17.88 to 22.80. The total eclipse lasted no more than a couple minutes. The magnitude-difference of the total solar eclipse was at -3.92.

To correlate all the last paragraph, there was still light (or) for the first hour of the solar eclipse entry. I had something to eat at that time when I was making one short-length video. Starting after 2:17, I started to notice the difference, yet I can still see my shadow. Throughout the next fifteen minutes, the skies gradually became dark.

The penumbra effect was getting stronger prior to 2:32 pm. I feel the eclipse was getting stronger. I was amazed that I can barely see my shadow. The environment was darkening within a rate of a minute. The environment became cooler as the total eclipse became prominent. The UV rays were weakening. Within the next fifteen minutes was a chilling and a breathtaking experience.

Near at 2:46 was the chilling and breathtaking experience, as if this had happened very quickly. The skies were darkened, including the clouds. The skies were the color of an impending severe thunderstorm. I was able to use my flashlight during this time. Due to -3.92 magnitude difference, I would have seen stars and planets (such as Venus and Jupiter; not Mars and Mercury due to high magnitudes), but the clouds mostly obscured the skies. As a result, I was not able to see the stars and planets. I took snapshots from my iPod of the eclipse, yet this was not all I have done.

Even though I took four photos of the eclipse from my iPod, I briefly saw the total solar eclipse with my own eyes (without any aid) for no more than a second. And the second time for no more than a couple seconds, I saw the eclipse again. I was not blind, not even I had permanent eye damage. I was fortunate that the UV was weak at that time. I saw the total eclipse to be dark-violet (resembling of an ultra-violet black ball as if I was sungazing) with a bright-white corona. Nearby the corona, the skies were icy blue; when you progress away from the moon, you see the dark skies and dark clouds. This was the drawing that is closely based what I saw. During this time, I saw a thunderstorm from the north that was slowly approaching.

After the couple minutes were expired, the sun emerged from the moon, quickly brightening up. The dark skies brightened once more. However, a thunderstorm was lurking close, and I had to pack up and leave. I would have stayed and captured the whole eclipse duration; however, a presence of a thunderstorm is more than enough to make you go back indoors. I got back at home at 3:03 pm and rested.

What are the similarities between the two eclipses? Both eclipses happened while I was living at home. The 2017 solar eclipse started at the Northwest Oregon and ended right at the Coastal Line of South Carolina (where I was during the event). Now, the 2017 Solar Eclipse was the Great American Eclipse.

Finally, I was able to witness all types of eclipses from the sun to the moon. This translate to both solar eclipse and lunar eclipse. Thanks to the Blood Moon of 2014 and 2015, I had seen two of the four, all being full.

This was my experience with the total solar eclipse.