Living near Portland OR, I was one of the lucky few that got to be near the path of totality for the ApocEclipse. People around a hundred miles away were coming from all parts of the country and paying up to $1500 a night for a chance at a couple minutes of darkness. Since my apartment was at an area of over 99% obscurity, I chose to take a walk in the park instead of enduring dangerous freeway stops on I-5. As someone who was already in the path of the eclipse, I didn’t have to do much to see it, while other people took days off over a year in advance. But was it worth all the trouble for them? And should you be planning for your great grandkids to return to Earth and fly to the North Pole in 2090? Read on to find out!
Today was already my day off. So I didn’t have to schedule any sudden bathroom breaks or have a sick day that aligned with the sun and moon. And I didn’t have to drive to get to a good viewing spot, so I slept in. At work, they bought everyone $1 Eclipser glasses ahead of time, before they jumped up to $50 (Nintendo Scalpers return!) and I remembered to bring those home, so I had everything I needed.
Instead of ritualizing the event, I decided to take my morning walk as usual. I went outside around 10 AM and noticed people were outside at the complex for the first time in ever.
The weather was a bit cooler than normal, and there was dew on the plants when I walked out to the wetlands trail. Being someone who hates standing around in one place like everyone else, I started walking towards the sun, putting the glasses on every one in awhile to see the moon’s progress.
Around 10:15, I turned around and saw the another living human sitting outside on a blanket, who asked me what I thought about it. I didn’t have much of an opinion yet, so I said the weather was finally nice and that the full coverage was almost here.
“I think this is it. It’s supposed to happen at 10:19 and now it’s 10:21.” She said.
Oh. Didn’t know that. I turned back around and checked the sun again, then looked at it’s effect on everything.
I was at approximately 99.2% obscurity. That 0.8% must make a pretty big difference.
Instead of complete darkness, there was about the same amount of light as when I get up for work every morning. No bats came out, some birds stopped chirping, and a couple of dogs were barking, but that was probably unrelated. Someone in the distance launched a Piccolo Pete. And then it started getting brighter again.
A little bit underwhelming for me, especially given all the hype and traffic jams happening the entire week. Maybe at 100% obscurity the effect is much stronger, but at 99.2%, the surroundings weren’t much different than normal. The sun was still too bright to look at directly, but the glasses helped by blocking everything out except the eclipse. It was a little ball covered by a shadow. Cool, and best seen at different stages over time instead of as one picture.
I continued the walk and looked up at it occasionally, but in a few minutes the weather and amount of light returned to normal summer, even though the glasses still showed partial coverage, and people started heading back in. I finished my walk, then came in myself, a little saddened that it wasn’t total darkness.
Was it still worth not sleeping in and taking a peek outside? Definitely. But driving across the country a week early and spending a small fortune for a couple of minutes? Not for 99.2% at least.