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Georgia On My Mind Again, Part 2

As I am sure you all recall, Monday, August 21 was the day of the big solar eclipse, viewable over much of the mainland US. The news media flooded us with eclipse stories including the importance of using special glasses for viewing the sun as the moon moved in front of it. My sister had obtained a pair for each of us so we were prepared.

Photographers knew that attempting to photograph the sun could ruin the sensor in their cameras and many obtained a special filter to protect the tools of their livelihood. The warning also applied to cameras in smart phones. I was not willing to pay for a filter for one use only but I was willing to use one of the pairs of glasses to cover the lens of my iPhone. Here is the result.

When I first looked at the result on my iPhone, I thought there was a smudge below and to the right of the sun. Once I downloaded the phone and looked at it with Photoshop, I wondered if that might actually be the moon approaching the sun. Or it could be a cloud. Or a camera artifact. Still a cool picture.

We were told that the closer it got to totality and during totality, the stars would come out — looking like a night sky. We did see some celestial objects but from our vantage point, there were not as many stars as one sees at night. The fact that this one is a tiny circle (zoomed in at 300 mm) suggested to us that it was actually a planet. A friend suggested it was Venus because it is currently on the opposite side of the sun from Earth. I'll go along with that.

Finally, after all that build-up, after all the talk, after all the planning, after all the expense (for many), the moment of totality was actually here. We could safely remove our solar glasses (being careful to put them back on once totality began to leave us) and look at the eclipsed sun. To my naked eye, it looked like a black ball with a thin band of bright white light surrounding it. My camera suggested that there was more corona than met the eye. And notice in this image, there is a tiny point of light above and to the left of the moon-sun hookup. That, I believe, was a star. My same friend suggested it was Mercury. I suspect he knows better than I do.

Looking at our surroundings, it was considerably darker and began to cool. We expected to hear the sounds of night creatures but were disappointed there. This photo was taken using the settings for daylight and not corrected for being under-exposed. It matches my memory.

After two minutes, the sun began to re-assert its dominance and the back yard because lighter and warmer. Totality was quite spectacular while it lasted.

Wildlife returned to its normal routine — here a goldfinch feeding at the bird feeder (which is usually monopolized by a pesky squirrel).

And just at the edge of the balcony, a hummingbird returned for a sip of nectar.

I must admit that I loved every minute of the total eclipse adventure — it is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. If you missed it, another one is coming to the U.S. in 2024, totality traveling from Texas to Maine. Begin your planning well in advance and don't forget your eclipse glasses.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com