Watching the August 21 Total Solar Eclipse was like opening a highly anticipated present on Christmas morning. For several weeks (even months) ahead, we read about this rare natural phenomenon. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes in front of the Sun, completely blocking the Sun’s light and briefly turning day into night. During the August 21 event, viewers in a nationwide 70-mile-wide swath would enjoy the maximum effect. Here in Brasstown, the spectacle began at 1:05 p.m. EDT in a clear, hot day dotted by puffy clouds.
As we settled into our Brasstown, North Carolina viewing spot (just a few miles from Murphy, NC), we kept our eclipse viewing glasses and water bottles close at hand. Every few minutes, we slipped on the glasses and gazed at the Sun, watching the Moon’s slow migration across the brilliant white sphere. First, the Moon’s effect was barely noticeable; however, the Sun’s circular shape gradually transformed into an ever-shrinking crescent as the sky darkened around us. Shadows began to appear, and the surrounding landscape took on the colors of twilight.
As the total eclipse (or “Totality”) crept closer, we noticed a drop in temperature, with some observers noting that it felt 10 degrees cooler. Shortly before the magic moment, our environment grew very still, with birds flying up to their nighttime roosts and crickets chirping in the distance. A rooster also began to crow, likely convinced that the “twilight” meant it was time to begin a new day.
Finally, at 2:34 p.m. EDT, we experienced “Totality” in Brasstown, with a dark twilight taking over the forested landscape as the Moon completely covered the Sun. This amazing spectacle lasted only 2 minutes 26 seconds, giving us just enough time to enjoy the view before a sliver of sunlight peeked from behind the Moon’s shadow. When that occurred, we quickly donned our eclipse glasses to safely enjoy the rest of the show. Watching for more than an hour, we saw the Moon continue its path across the Sun, with daylight and warmer temperatures gradually returning as well.
Finally, the Great American Eclipse was over, not to return nationwide for many years. As we swapped viewing experiences and sipped cold drinks, we marveled at this stunning solar extravaganza that had unfolded right before our eyes. This was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime event, made for sharing with family and friends across the country. Even better, we had experienced it from peaceful Brasstown, just a stone’s throw from Murphy, NC in a beautiful little corner of the world.