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The Eclipse!

Somehow in all my years on this planet I have never seen any kind of solar eclipse.  Lunar eclipses many times, but yesterday we had an eclipse party.  At about 3:00 p.m. my friend Ian and I packed up a couple of folding chairs, and a big jug of water and we headed down to Bernalillo where we picked up our friends Pat and Scott.  They had a chair, and lemon cookies and sun tea (appropriate).

An aside.  I finally got to meet the puppies that Pat and others had rescued up in Regina — so darling.  I want a puppy!

Back to the eclipse.  We all piled in my big car, and we headed to another friends house to pick up an extra pair of eclipse glasses.  Then it was on to Mesa Del Sol (how appropriate is that?) where there was going to be a gathering of sun watchers.  Pat had done us all a favor by scouting out the four possible locations on Saturday, and picking Mesa Del Sol.  High up on a mesa with an unobstructed view of the western horizon we could see Mount Taylor, 70 miles distant, and floating grey blue and massive against a turquoise sky.  Closer in to Albuquerque were the The Three Sisters, extinct volcanoes, their squat cones looking like a line of worn down grey teeth.

There was plenty of parking and we headed over to a vast grassy area with a large pavilion where live Latin and Mariachi music was playing.  Amateur astronomers were everywhere with telescopes ranging in size from massive things 8 inches across to small ones that looked like the captain of a 18th century frigate should be carrying it.  They all had sun filters.  I looked through several, and saw prominences leaping off the surface of the sun.  It was amazing.

Some smart entrepreneurs had hauled their food carts out to the venue, but there was only one that was servicing real food — Barbedwire Barbecue.  We stood in line for a long time, but scored pulled port burritos with green chile.  In fairness I should state that I got the last burrito with green chile because they ran out of chile.  I don’t think they were prepared for the crowd.  Scott and Ian had scouted out a location at the front of the field in a fairly empty corner, and set up the chairs.  Pat and I returned with food, we ate, and then it was time for the show to start.

At first you think it’s an optical illusion and then you realize the moon is starting to nibble at the edges of the sun.  It began in the lower right hand corner of our star, and slowly over the next hour advanced across the glowing orb.  The eclipse glasses worked perfectly, but even with the glasses they recommended that you look away every two to three minutes.  

One amazing visual was when the moon had covered enough of the sun that the sun looked like a crescent moon.  Then at around 7:32 or so total annularity was achieved.  Words are rather failing me.  The light streaming across the grass, and kissing the Sandia mountains changed until it had this soft, almost pink quality.  The temperature dropped noticeably.  And it last slightly over four minutes so the sight of this ring of fire surrounding utter darkness could be absorbed and one could marvel at this wonder.  Scott, murmured that it looked like the One Ring from Tolkien, and it was an apt description.

My companions and I are such utter geeks that we stayed watching, looking away, and watching again until the sun sank below the horizon.  Which was another extraordinary sight because the moon was still covering the upper left corner so the sun had become a triangle rather than an orb.  Right at the end when you could still see this shark fin shape on the western horizon Venus became visible.  It was breathtaking.

So now I want to chase eclipses across the world.  And I really want to see a total eclipse.  It was a great day spent with dear friends.  It’s good to be alive.

5 Responses to The Eclipse!

  • Wolf Lahti says:

    After nearly two weeks of rare clear weather in the Pacific Northwet, on the day of the eclipse, it rained. All day. 🙁

  • MelindaS says:

    Oh, Wolf, that sucks so bad. Our friend Pat has chased total eclipses a few times, and says you never know when you’re going to get rained or clouded out. I think that’s why Walter Jon only chases them when they are in some exotic local. Then even if you miss the eclipse you’re in Turkey or China or someplace wonderful.

  • rand says:

    Hi, Ms. Snodgrass:
    Sorry to go off topic, but I’ve been seeing & reading a lot re: the wildfires in your state. Just wanted to check & see if you & your loved 1’s (including Vento) are ok & out of harm’s way. All of my hopes & best wishes for your safety & NM’s speedy recovery. Have a lovely Memorial Day.

  • melindas says:

    Hi, Rand, it’s so kind of you to think about us. We are all fine. The fire are way to the south and west of us. The smoke was really bad this morning though. It was like living in an ashtray. The sunrise was pretty, but sort of scary, blood red through all the smoke. And the winds just keep howling.

  • rand says:

    My friends nearly lost their homes in the 2007 fires in Poway (just north of San Diego). We were visiting for a Charger game & the skies looked as close to hell as I’ll ever see. Quite terrifying. Very glad to hear you’re ok.

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