A total solar eclipse happens about every 18 months, but rarely in the U.S.
And, yet, we didn’t join the masses traveling to the Great American Total Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017. We stayed home. A place, according to eclipsewise.com, that would have an eclipse obscuration of .914 — meaning 91.4% of the sun would be covered by the moon during the maximum eclipse. That would leave us with 8.6 percent of the sun still shining.
What does a world with only 8.6 percent of sun look and feel like?
Obviously, we would not experience total darkness. But how much light would there still be at our maximum eclipse? How warm would it stay or how cold would it get? Since it wasn’t total dark, would the animals (especially birds) still react?
With more curiosity than expectation and no solar glasses to be had, we made a quick and simple shoebox projector in preparation and waited. The solar eclipse was viewable in our area from 1:20pm – 4:07 pm on a hot sunny summer afternoon. The kind that makes your skin stings, if you’re not use to it. We did not stay out the entire time, but focused on the maximum eclipse. Here is what we observed …
In a world with only 8.6 percent of the sun…
Daylight is still day light, but with the dusky hues of sunset coloring everything.
Sunlight is still strong enough to create deep shadows, but too weak for warmth.
Temperatures, without the heat of the sun, drop quickly and significantly, but rebound quickly and significantly.
Observable nature (birds, crickets, frogs, cicadas) seem to quiet briefly, but humans do not spontaneously shout with joy or shed tears of awe.
While standing in a world with only 8.6 percent of the sun may not illicit shock and awe, if you are paying attention, it will give you a wonderful appreciation for the power and impact of the sun.