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My Totality Experience

I love astronomy.  I discovered it at nine years old, when I checked out a book about the stars from my school's library.  My teacher told me that the star patterns in the book were the same as in the sky above my house and when I discovered that was true, I was hooked.

I read all I could in school about astronomy and took one college course that was offered.  Over the years I read about comets, star patterns, galaxies, new discoveries and did my best to keep up with the information that was available and when the internet hit, I couldn't keep up!

So many experiences around the stars I have had!  Sailboating in the Bahamas and seeing thousands of stars, in a different hemisphere, and seeing shooting stars left and right.  Mind blowing!  Watching the Perseids every summer by camping in my own backyard.  So many wonderful opportunities.

So when I learned about the total solar eclipse that was to happen on August 21, 2017, I knew I had to experience it.  Then I learned that St. Louis would be in the path of totality, I was over the top excited about it.  Plans were made and my excitement grew.

Then came the crowds.  The CROWDS.  The St. Louis police were estimating millions of people on the roads and deadlocked traffic. I did NOT want to miss this event due to being stuck in traffic.  Reluctantly, I changed my plans to stay at home, in the path of 99% totality.

I wasn't the only one with this worry, a group of friends also decided to stay home and we banded together to celebrate and observe the eclipse.  We got together for lunch first.  I brought some of my cauliflower cheese soup and we had a lot of other goodies, too.  Christie brought fireballs!  The perfect ending!

We grabbed chairs and headed to the field, so full of excitement and giggly about the event.  We donned our glasses, a gift from DeDe, and started watching the moon pass over the sun.

The first nibble of the moon from the sun appears and we are just giddy!  The moon seems to take its time, meandering over the sun at a snail's pace.  Once the moon covers about half the sun is when the fun truly begins.  The sky darkens, and birds begin to fly back to their nests, rushing as if to say, how come I am so late???  The crickets start their chirping, getting louder and louder.  The dusk-to-dawn lights pop on on the garages around us.  The sky continues to have an eerie quality to it.  The temperature began to drop and is noticeably chillier than it was when we first came out.  The shadows start changing and then we see it!  The shadow bands race across the alley very quickly, a set of four. The clouds thicken, and the sun is covered by clouds.  The entire eclipse is covered by a thick bank of clouds.  We see some gorgeous shadows in the sky of the sun and the air visibly darkens.  The quick minute of totality goes by and the sun starts to peak out from the moon.  We are able to see a bit of the sun's path back into the sky.  There are no words, and as we sit together, we fall silent as the moment engulfs us in its magical arms.

While I was very disappointed in missing the total eclipse, I did experience totality.  The darkening skies, the animal behavior, the shadow bands and the weird auras were all about the eclipse. My experiences were awe inspiring and make me want to be close by the next one.  I will be somewhere in the path of totality at the next one in 2024 if I can be.

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