The Best Way to Watch an Eclipse

Everyone looking up at the sun

Van-Tramp, Watsons Wander, The Learning Banks, and Brandon stare at the sun.

When we started talking about gathering with friends for the solar eclipse, we really didn’t know what to expect.  It was more than six months away and eclipse hysteria hadn’t hit yet. By the time the plans had gotten firmer, it had become our impetus to go back west. We wintered in the Florida Keys and spent quality time with our families, but it was time to move again. The eclipse and our friends gave us a target date to hit. Not only that, but the hype had started and it did sound like it would be cool to witness in person.

Once we started heading that way, we decided to just make a run for it and get to Idaho early to meet friends. We plowed through a few states we need to go back and really explore.  But we got there early and spent a few days in Ketchum with part of the crew before heading off to our secret little boondocking spot in the path of totality expertly scouted by our friend Marshall. Some of us went up to make sure we snagged the spot early and covered the stay limit to just after the eclipse. And then everyone else started rolling in. By the time everyone arrived, it looked like a little campground was set-up back in the woods.

Our little group took advantage of our time in Idaho before the eclipse with many outings and activities. It’s not that often you can get a bunch of free-roaming nomad friends in one spot. It all led up to the day of the eclipse. The majority of our group work from the road, but this Monday became a holiday. We all gathered in front of Noshbus and started the festivities for the day. We came prepared with the special eclipse glasses, but had some fun making some old school viewers, too. We had paper plates with holes, white paper to watch for sun snakes, and even turned some boxes from UPS deliveries (yes, they delivered to our boondocking spot!) into old school viewers you put over your head. Brandon decorated them for us.

Eclipse box viewers

The Day of the Eclipse

We decided to focus on enjoying the event and capturing our friends looking all futuristic rather than worrying about shooting the eclipse itself. It’s always a hard thing to decide as a photographer, but we wanted to be in the moment rather than experience it through a lens. It was fun to focus on everyone with their eyes to the sky or wearing goofy boxes.

As the moon started to pass in front of the sun, you could see the landscape changing. The day was warm and sunny, but the feeling of dusk started to take over. The sun became a perfect crescent like the brightest moon you’ve ever seen. Around us, the colors of a sunset started to emerge and the temperature dropped. It really is amazing how quickly the temperature can drop when the sun is blocked. We’re so used to a gradual decline during the day as the sun makes its descent, but this was sudden and startling.

Finally, the moon overtook the sun and we could pull off our glasses for two and half minutes. All we could see in the sky was a black dot with the bright ring of the sun’s corona around it. It was dark like the sun had almost set. And then suddenly, we saw the diamond ring effect of the lunar landscape and the show started in reverse.

We did throw the drone in the air to take video of our campsite during the eclipse. We’ve condensed it into a timelapse, so you can view the whole the darkness over take us in just a few minutes.

2024, Here I Come

I didn’t have any preconceived notions going into the eclipse and thought if nothing else, we’d be with friends. But it really was an event to remember. There was something captivating about being in the line of totality and seeing the full effect the sun and the moon can have on each other and the Earth. I don’t remember my first solar eclipse (I couldn’t even talk yet), but I’ll remember this one, and am already planning for the next one in 2024. I enjoyed the experience and can’t wait to do it again!

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