The eclipse post

1) Wow.  Wow.  I had read that it would be emotional and mind-blowing.  It was emotional and mind-blowing.  I’m generally pretty even-keeled, but not yesterday.  I was practically a-tingle with excitement as totality approached and totality was probably the most amazing thing I have ever experienced.  Even though you know it is coming cognitively, of course, it is still totally mind-blowing to experience.  My favorite quote on experiencing totality versus advanced partial, “it’s the difference between riding an airplane and jumping out of an airplane.”  Oh, and I totally loved the partial part.  Would have been amazing just to watch and experience changes as sun went from 0% covered into the 90’s.

Naturally, I took a ton of photos, but planned on putting my camera down during totality to just experience.  But then it was so cool I had to try and take some.  I ended up taking a few that weren’t great because I hadn’t thought about the fact that my settings were way off.  In fact, almost all my totality photos were poor because my rational photographer mind was pretty much on hiatus as I experienced pretty much sheer euphoria.

2) Soooo cool to share it with all my family.  We were all just giddy and celebrated with a family group hug when it was over.

3) As you know, I was semi-obsessed and planned the hell out of this thing.  Totally paid off.  I was completely right that traffic right before would not be bad.  People arriving in South Carolina were clearly spread out all over the weekend.  I was ultimately convinced to leave Sunday night to make sure and we experienced heavy, but basically fine, traffic getting as far as the SC border (that was basically where hotels stopped having eclipse pricing).  There was one small back-up on Monday morning getting into the zone, but traffic was basically fine– just like I thought it would be.  I can confirm this as reader MDG left Cary, NC on Monday morning and had no real traffic issues.

I wanted to watch on the north side of the zone and near 95 so I could beat traffic back out and settled on Sumter, SC.  Thanks to the internet, I could learn all about their parks.  Found a great park– Palmetto Park– with a playground and sprayground which kept our kids totally entertained for the duration of the eclipse.  Not too crowded as Sumter had an actual eclipse festival in another park that seemed to suck up the crowd.  Was so glad we watched where we did.

Totality was over at 2:45 and we were leaving the park by 2:48 so we could be heading north on 95 as soon as possible.  I few small back-ups, but totally paid off.  Friends who waited longer and started from further South had far less pleasant returns.

On a related note, don’t know what was up with Google traffic yesterday (BF?)  I kept checking behind us out of curiosity and it basically showed just very small delays after the eclipse.  Yet, my friends returning from Charleston where on the road an extra 3-4 hours.

4) Really annoyed at how articles in the N&O downplayed the local impact.

“Because the sun is so bright, you really won’t see anything,” said Rachel Smith, an astronomy professor at Appalachian State University in Boone. “It won’t get very dark at all. It won’t even be perceptible.”

Wrong!!  I wasn’t in Raleigh, but I know what 93% was like in SC and it was totally perceptible.  And really, really cool.  Temperature was way more pleasant in the sun and the overall light was clearly dimmer.  And, it was awesome to look at the sun with eclipse glasses and see it 93% obscured (And, all this, of course, was confirmed by my friends who stayed in the area).  Now, if you tried looking directly at the sun without glasses, it was not perceptible at all, but there’s much more to an eclipse than that.  In fact, I looked directly at that sun at about 2 minutes before totality and with the naked eye (just for a second, mind you), the sun was still just a giant ball of fire.

5) There was so a natural economics experiment to be done with hotel pricing.  I was basically watching the zone of eclipse pricing expand every day last week on  One week before, Florence, SC (30 minutes from zone) was totally cheap; two days before it was 4-5x regular prices.

6) A couple of photos I’m pretty pleased with.  You can see my whole gallery here.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

7 Responses to The eclipse post

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    Here in Raleigh the light changed as we approached 92%+ eclipse. At maximum, it was like looking outside through a very, very dark pair of sunglasses. And it cooled off.
    My gravel dog yard with towering trees around it was covered with semi circle patterns made by the light filtering through the leaves.
    A friend of mine in southern Wake noticed the same semi circle patterns.

    • itchy says:

      Watching from the NCSU campus, it felt like the sun had a dimmer switch. Cooler, not as bright, but still crisp, sharp shadows. Very interesting and cool.

      Completely different than clouds obscuring the sun.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Oh man, I loved all the photos of the crescent shadows my friends posted. There were surely many of those shadows to be seen right where I was, but I had no idea to look for it.

  2. bdferris says:

    Glaid it worked out! My experience was pretty similar: I totally obsessed on planning and ended up picking a great spot to watch with good views and a fast exit that avoided most traffic.

    Not sure what was up with Google Maps + Traffic, since we appeared to capture at least *some* of the traffic:

    I know in the minutes/hour right after totality, the cellular network near me was so jammed (people uploading photos, etc) that I couldn’t even get Google Maps to load fresh data. Such network congestion would could also cause location tracks to fail uploading, which might make traffic seem better than it actually was. But just speculation on my part. Either way, it’s a black-swan sort of traffic event, so I’m sure we’ll be taking a look at how we did. Gotta be ready for 2024 😉

    • Steve Greene says:

      Really glad it worked out for you well, too. That certainly seems like a very plausible explanation for the traffic issues on google maps. Do you have a tentative 2024 plan?

      • Brian D Ferris says:

        Go eat bbq in Lockhart, TX. If I happen to see an eclipse, so much the better 😉

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