Tim and I work in Gainesville, Georgia, about an hour and 10 minutes northeast of Atlanta. Earlier this year when we learned that Gainesville would reach 99% totality in the Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017, we decided we’d take a late lunch that day to drive the 30 minutes further north east to be in 100%. Verdict – worth it.
A woman I work with said her church would be a good spot to park and view the eclipse – it was secluded, off the highway, easy to get to, and in the path of totality. Tim and I made that our destination and brought our picnic lunch to the River Point Community Church in Habersham, Georgia.
We got there right around 1pm, about the time the moon kissed the sun. We had our super-safe solar viewing glasses (thanks Amazon Prime!) and the company of about 15 other adults and children in the parking lot. With the naked eye (note – do not look at the sun with the naked eye), you could easily miss the fact that there was an eclipse going on at all – it was still bright, warm and partly cloudy. For the first hour, without the special eclipse glasses, you wouldn’t really be aware that something rare was occurring.
About 30 minutes before totality, things got weird. The temperature started dropping. There was a grey hue covering everything. It was different from being in the shade or being at sunset. The darkness was grittier and almost dusty-looking. The atmosphere was downright spooky. The automatic lights on the church and lamp posts turned on.
In the moments leading up to totality, which was at 2:37pm, the changes were more dramatic. Staring at the sun through the glasses, we could see the tiny sliver of sun fading away as the people around us shouted and yelled in awe and excitement – we were all amazed by what we were seeing.
I love this video because you can see the moment of totality and the dramatic change that occurs – but please note, due to Tim’s enthusiastic language, the audio is NSFW! 🙂
And then, through the eclipse glasses, we could see nothing. We were in totality, and for 1 minute and 20 seconds, we stared at the sun with our naked eyes, looking at the moon and the faint rim of light surrounding it. It was dark. The earth was quiet, even with the excited yelling around us. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, and it was as impressive as seeing the northern lights in Iceland last winter. And then just like that it was over – the sky brightened up and it was like the earth was coming back to life as the moon continued its path across the face of the sun.