My head throbbed from the pain of wading through a dozen, difficult physics problems when I suddenly lit up at an easy one.
#6. What is a solar eclipse?
I quickly scribbled, ‘When the moon is between the earth and the sun,’ and my head felt somewhat lighter with the knowledge that I, at least, got one right.
But when I wrote that, I had no idea of the significance of a solar eclipse, what it felt like to witness one. A full one. Sure, I knew it was incredibly rare, considering Earth is the only planet to have it, but it didn’t seem so special. Certainly not to deserve the attention it got from a bunch of people who had seen it.
I mean, moon between earth and sun? Sun, moon, earth. Whatever. The only importance it was to me was that I didn’t confuse it with a lunar eclipse (when the earth is between the moon and the sun – kind of confusing.)
But at the moment when I gazed up at the heavens and witnessed it, my opinion suddenly changed. Here, I will do my best to tell you why.
It was after a full day of playing in the sand and ocean of the Isle of the Palms, just off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. I was laying on my back, riding the smooth waves, monitoring the sun shielded by clouds. When suddenly I noticed the ocean wasn’t so smooth anymore. The waves built up, a churning mass of swirling water and sand. Lots of sand.
I dove through a giant wave, and when I popped back up, I glanced up at the sky. There was a small break in the clouds, and a tiny grey speck in front of the sun. I widened my eyes, yelled for Micah to look (I didn’t have to say where) and splashed to shore, where I sprinted to our chairs, slipped on my Solar Eclipse sunglasses, and… saw a grey cloud blocking the sun.
From the chair next to me, my older brother (who lives in Charleston) sighed. “Yeah. It’s been like that for a while. But the full eclipse is supposed to happen in half an hour, so we’ll be waiting for a while yet.”
Still, I couldn’t get back in the ocean, and risk missing it. Apparently, everyone in the water thought the same thing, and hiked up the sandy plain to their stations.
We all waited full of anticipation and anxiety, for the darkening storm clouds beyond the horizon, and behind us, were threatening. And grey clouds still blanketed the sky, covering the sun.
It was amazing that it hadn’t rained yet, since the forecasts all weekend had reported that there would be heavy rain on the day of the eclipse, right up to the time of the big event itself. We had even set up a tent in case we got down-poured (though, I’m not sure why, since we were already wet…)
But as the clock ticked to the time of the eclipse, 2:46, I witnessed a miraculous sight. The clouds parted, and I watched with pure awe as the moon suddenly appeared in the perfect center of the sun. The hundreds of gazers around me all gasped together, exclaiming one long, “Wooow!” as we all broke into spontaneous applause.
From the protection of my solar eclipse glasses, I was able to watch the moon move in without burning my eyes with the brilliance of the sun. Once it was in place, I, with everyone else on the beach, ripped off the glasses, and stared.
All I could think was- Laaaaaa! Behold, the most magnificent sight mine eyes have ever seen! I stared, took a picture, stared, took another picture. At some point, I managed to tear my eyes away from the sky, and take the whole scene in.
I was overwhelmed.
Here was I, one small being in the immense universe, gazing up at an awe-inspiring sight. The feeling of seeing that little black dot in front of the sun far above the earth, the clouds around me darkened, the wind blowing which made the temperature drop even more, the thunder in the distance, the people around me all focused on the same thing, all of them speechless, was an experience I will never forget.
And all of this due to the miracle of no rain.
So next time you see that question on a physics exam, don’t dismiss it for something that’s cool but not really significant. Especially if you’ve never seen it before, because it’s truly a life-changing experience.
Will you go to see the next Solar Eclipse?
2 thoughts on “Solar Eclipse in South Carolina”
Whao, so I just found your blog and I was looking around and I was shocked that you actually had something about SC on here… and then the post you have on SC is set literally 45 min from my house. XD I remember the eclipse. You’re so lucky there weren’t any clouds. We had cloud cover and didn’t actually see it!
Emily || growingintofriends.com
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Hi Emily! Wow, that’s so cool! I’m glad I have something representing your state. xD Yes, we were so blessed! I honestly thought that we’d have cloud cover as well, so I’m thankful they moved at just the right moment. 😉
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