I heard that quite a few folks were disappointed with the clouds here in the Devil’s Lake State Park area during yesterday’s eclipse. Especially with all the “Once in a lifetime” headlines touting our “80% eclipse”. Yeah, it was a bummer, but take heart! The truth is, the difference between 0% and 80% is only a slight dimming in the sky. Definitely cool, but the difference between 99% and “total” is night and day.
If you’ve been following along on our social channels, you know we made the trip down to southern Illinois to catch the total eclipse. We avoided the crowds of Carbondale for a secluded little spot further south called the Mermet Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area. Mermet lake is awash in Amercian lotus flowers, dotted with bald cypress trees and host to amazing wildlife from otters to egrets to cotton mouth snakes! It was from this vantage point that we watched the total eclipse.
In the time-lapse video below, you’ll really have to watch for the “total” eclipse. As the moon traveled across the sun, the change was only slight right up until the last ray of light, then darkness. Just as suddenly the daylight reappears! If you don’t pay attention in the video, you almost miss it!
And that’s the interesting bit that we learned from our experience in the line of totality; From zero to 90% or so, you’ll notice just a subtle change in light of the day. The shadows fade, the sky takes on a more bluish tint but even 90% isn’t almost dark as you’d imagine. Totality arrives like a light switch. It’s zero to 100. The stars come out and the horizon, all 360 degrees of the horizon, takes on the colors of sunset. Yes, it’s amazing! Awe inspiring! Even a little scary! Now go look at that top picture again. That image tells the story. As soon as I took that “diamond ring” shot catching the first second of light on the backside of the eclipse, I rotated my SLR camera down and took the snapshot with my phone. Just a sliver of sunlight had reappeared from behind the moon, but was day again. You can see how bright it was in the background. 99% is daylight! Even that little sliver of the sun is so, so bright.
So back in Baraboo where the clouds covered our 80% eclipse it was a bummer for sure. It’s a great experience to get out the pinhole viewers and eclipse glasses, especially for the kids. But camera buffs can take heart, you didn’t miss the once in a lifetime shot at Devil’s Lake. For that, you need to go the “full monty”. Had we not experienced it, I wouldn’t have believed it myself! Luckily we’ll get another chance to catch totality nearby in 7 years. Take my word, you won’t want to miss the next one!
Here are a couple more shots from yesterday’s eclipse.