The solar eclipse. This doesn’t happen often. Only once in a while, too far between many years. That morning of August 21st, I was one of those people who anticipated the darkening of the sky starting at early afternoon. For the past week or earlier, the TV news reporters have announced of their full coverage of the tracking of the moon’s pathway across the United States which will start from the west coast all the way to the east coast. As the day came closer, the meteorologists talked much about it with full enthusiasm and the reporters eagerly touched on the preparations being made by the different states that will encounter this phenomenon.
It was explained that a solar eclipse occurs as a result of the natural periodic changes in the
alignment of the sun, earth and the moon. It is considered as a total solar eclipse when the moon completely covers or blocks the sun. But the halo that appears around the rim of the dark moon, actually comes from the sun and is called “corona.” This could possibly be the most basic
explanation that the meteorologists and the solar systems scientists could provide our layman’s understanding of the matter.
Anyway, my inclination is towards the arts but this particular unique scientific happening caught my interest for the reason that I remember seeing something like this when I was in the high school in the Philippines many years ago. That particular day, it was noon time with the sun brightly shining when after a few minutes it became dark like night time. I recalled it was a total eclipse. But, then suddenly the sun reappeared as if nothing unusual happened. Of course, it was an exciting experience for me with my friends and classmates, but years later, that thing called phenomenon did not make a big dent in our lives.
Solar Eclipse 2017
For about two weeks before the oncoming solar eclipse, the TV reporters and anchormen were repeatedly making news which focused on this on-coming occurrence. And when the day came, there was a total break from the tiresome hot political news. The meteorologists and weather reporters were in heaven with their reports, announcements and interviews. With success, people got excited, anxiously waiting for this unique and out-of-the -ordinary day. Entrepreneurs and other business minded people took advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to offer or sell their drinks, foods and items like the specially made sunglasses, tee-shirts, caps and the likes to captive customers in various places. Why not?
One thing mentioned was the special sunglasses being given away free to people that should be worn while looking at the fiery sun rays. I was interested to see this solar eclipse happen, but I did not have the appropriate sunglasses and I did not want my eyesight to be affected by the blinding flashes and strong rays of the sun, really bad for the eyes. One TV channel that I caught by chance, had a reporter who meticulously explained how to manually create something that could take the place of the proper sunglasses. His instruction was to get a piece of pad paper or Xerox paper and prick it with a pin on the exact spot where your eyes could look through. Then as you raise your face to the direction of the sun, cover your face with the pad paper and position it to allow your eyes to see through. I was challenged to create this implement.
Tracking the Pathway
We started focusing on the TV news at lunch time at around 12:00 noon. It was timely because in the U.S. space, the movement of the moon covering the sun started over Oregon in the West Coast. It was quite a sight because it was a total eclipse, meaning the moon totally covered the roundness of the sun. A total blackout. Thousands of people in Oregon were watching it with so much enthusiasm, clapping, shouting and ecstatic. With a previous knowledge that this occurrence would be visible in our area in VA at about 1:15 pm, I was excited to follow its track along the way. I watched the moon’s movement from Oregon, to Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Illinois. Missouri, Kansas, Washington, DC, and then, Virginia.
When the specified time to look at the solar eclipse at the DC/VA area came, I almost dragged my husband outside of our front door, put the cardboard on his face while I did mine, and told him to look up to the exact direction of the sun. He saw it. I asked him to describe what he saw. He said the moon did not totally cover the sun and he saw a bright crescent-like shape of the sun. I could not help but say, “Ay salamat at nakita rin. At accurate pa ang description.” I explained to him that it was not a total solar eclipse that we saw and that from where we were situated in Virginia, it was only 82 percent of the moon’s coverage over the sun was visible to us. Actually, I was a little disappointed when I did not see total darkness like what I first experienced in the Philippines many years ago.