On Monday, August 21, 2017, many people across this country were excited to get a look at the solar eclipse. For the first time in generations, the total eclipse would pass over the continental United States! Some people made pinhole boxes, like we used to in school. Some trekked down to Carbondale or Makanda in southern Illinois to join the crowds viewing the total eclipse – we didn’t go because all rooms were booked, but we vowed to go in 2024, when it will cross southern Illinois again! Some used colanders or their hands to see tiny crescents. A friend in Texas took this shot.
Another friend journeyed down to Cherokee, NC which apparently was also in the path of totality. Before the total eclipse, she took this shot of crescents coming through the openings in a tree canopy. Then she got a picture of the total eclipse.
My photographer cousin who lives in Wyoming in the path of totality took this excellent picture.
Here in the Chicago area, we had 86% totality, but that didn’t stop anyone from having a good time! I worried about a shortage of eclipse glasses – I looked online but companies were charging hundreds of dollars for them! Luckily, my friend Betty and I went to the Chicago Botanic Garden, which was partnering with the Adler Planetarium to sponsor an eclipse viewing event – we were lucky to find both parking and eclipse glasses, which were being handed out free one pair per family.
The grounds at the gardens were crowded with people, who had brought lawn chairs or blankets to sit on (picnics were not allowed). The smell of cooking hamburgers wafted through the air as people stood in line to have lunch before the big event.
We attended a concert by a trio of musicians, one of them the composer of a piece written expressly for the eclipse. In his introduction, the composer said that, although we sometimes feel small, the eclipse lets us feel part of something bigger.
All around the outdoor concert venue, people had set up chairs on the lawn and were getting ready. I heard one woman tell another, just around noon, that the eclipse was starting: “It looks like a cookie with a bite taken out of it!”
A pair of teenage girls and a mother and daughter figure out how to take pictures using their cell phones with the glasses over them. (Not only could looking directly at the sun when not totally eclipsed can damage your eyes, it can damage cell phone cameras as well.)
This guy was ready to take some professional-looking photos. On the right is the rose garden, a waiting crowd getting settled.
Meanwhile, the flowers and plants had a lot to offer in terms of beauty while waiting.
Betty and I finally chose a spot at the edge of a tree, but with a good view. Clouds were gathering and people worried about the eclipse being obscured by a cloud cover.
I settled into a comfortable viewing position, lying down with my head resting on my purse, and holding my eclipse glasses over my regular glasses.
Part of the time, it was clear enough to see the full eclipse, and I managed to take this picture using my cell phone, holding the glasses over the lens, while Betty clicked the button. At first, I thought it was just a yellow blotch with a reflection of the sun’s rays at the left,
but when I blew it up, I could see it was a perfect crescent!
Not bad for a cell phone!!
Soon afterward, during the period of 86% totality, a cloud cover began to obscure the sun, but the cool thing about it was that at first it was a thin layer of clouds and you could see the eclipsed sun right through it with your naked eyes!! I tried to take a picture of it but the clouds moved so fast. Still, if you look carefully to the left of the small light patch in the center of the photo below, you can see a faint partial crescent.
After that, the sun completely disappeared behind a thick layer of clouds – we’d gotten to see the best part anyway! So we got up and went to have salads for lunch and then admired some more flowers before going home.
I am keeping the glasses for 2024 – Carbondale or Bust!!
Katy Berman, blog author