I’ve been waiting for nearly 40 years to see a total solar eclipse.
In 1979, I wanted to drive north for the last total eclipse in the US, but it was inconveniently scheduled during finals week at my college. So I missed it.
On August 21, 2017, I rented a Cessna Cardinal and flew my family to the Ontario Airport in Oregon. Ontario is a small airfield in the extreme eastern part of the state, not far from the Snake River and the Idaho border.
We joined a few hundred other spectators, the perfect crowd size (probably around Dunbar’s number): enough to share the excitement, but not so many you had to wait in line for porta-potties.
The eclipse was incredible.
Noon became night; sunset bloomed in an instant all around the horizon, a 360-degree glowing band. People cried out and cheered. Above us, a black disk hung, embraced by the bright wings of the sun’s corona.
And stars appeared at noon.
I actually trembled. Shivers rippled across my skin.
I was rinsed with wonder, suffused by unexpected reverence. The sun’s corona in the dark sky was unbelievably beautiful, casting a pale silver light over the upturned faces of the crowd around me. People gasped with awe, the uncanny light staining their skin.
We were captured in a bubble of wonder, caught in the center of the moon’s shadow.
If I live a hundred years, I will never forget this unearthly moment, this moment of transport to another dimension.
It was worth waiting 40 years.