April 10, 2024

Being there: 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

Katie and Gene Hamilton

Bring Binocular News

A magical experience in Northern Pennsylvania

On our drive to Jamestown PA we noticed a road sign “No Stopping – Turn on lights during Eclipse” so we knew we were closing in on our destination at the Gatehouse Winery. It was a gregarious group with people singing the Beatle’s famous song “Here comes the sun” on Monday, April 8th as we waited for the big event. We were part of a large crowd anticipating the eclipse of ’24 with groups of family and friends, all of us happy to share the experience. We were in the “path of totality” and grateful for ideal clear weather conditions.  While we waited and cars streamed into the parking area, kids kicked soccer balls and hurled Frisbees while adults sipped wine and walked dogs.

We were part of a gathering of eclipse watchers on a day that began cold and cloudy, but turned into a sun-filled afternoon. We listened to cell phones and tablets as newscasters described how the sky turned from day to night for a few short moments as the moon obscured the face of the sun as it moved across Mexico, the United States and headed to Canada.  Gene set up jumbo binoculars with solar filters on a tripod and was happy to share a look with any passers-by. One of them returned with a bag of jelly beans to thank us.

As the sky darkened we all felt the sudden drop in temperature and noticed the dogs in the crowd, and there were many, quite still, standing or sitting very close to their tender.

We all saw the faint corona around the sun that looked like a ring and then Baily’s Beads began to appear along the edge of the moon’s shadow. It looked like a ring just before totality. It was jawdropping.

Then the reverse happened as the moon moved across the face of the sun, and darkness changed to light as the sun appeared again. As the sun reappeared we all applauded, and some hooped and hollered like our favorite team just scored the winning point.  It was a magical experience to witness and share with total strangers.  It seemed possible, and maybe hopeful, that we might all live together less divided and more united in our time here on earth.  

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Gene and Katie Hamilton are amateur astronomers who follow the stars and write about their dark sky adventures. They are members of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.
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