Monday, August 21… The Great American Eclipse of 2017... Alice & I, and several of our friends, really wanted to see the Darkness of Full Totality that would come with this Eclipse. The problem? The Line of Totality would be 160 miles away, and we had commitments to be elsewhere the day before, and the day after. So… if we were going to see Full Totality on Eclipse Day, we would have to leave early in the morning, drive the distance, find a comfortable spot, get set up, and only then… sit back and relax to enjoy the event (10:27 AM, MST) . And that is just exactly what we undertook to do.
In our initial planning for this unique event, we made plans to go to Alliance, Nebraska, 140 miles away, where we had reservations on a quiet prairie farm six miles west of town – But, upon waking early on Eclipse day, we found that the weather forecast for Alliance had turned ‘cloudy’… so we shifted to Plan ‘B’ – an ‘open space Wyoming’ Eclipse Totality site located approximately 160 miles away on US Hwy 85, roughly 20 miles south of Lusk, Wyoming… where the forecast was ‘Sunny skies’.
To get there, we left Hart Ranch at 5:02 AM…
Our route to “Plan ‘B’, Lusk, WY”, is shown below… about 160 miles… and we were not at all certain about the traffic we would encounter…. which turned out in the early morning to be relatively light. Please click on the map below for a better map view of our travel route…
We stopped at the ‘Fresh Start Market’ in Edgemont, SD for a brief break… and as we stepped out to stretch legs, we noticed our Goal… rising behind us…
After breakfast & bathroom breaks, we got back on the road again, heading for Mule Creek Junction, then a turn left (south) to Lusk, Wyoming. It was a beautiful morning!
We made good time getting to Lusk. There was increased traffic due to the Eclipse… but not too heavy, and we maintained a steady speed of 65 – 70 MPH. In the little crossroads town of Lusk, we stopped again.
The whole town of Lusk was set up for the Great Eclipse!… T-shirts were being sold… signs to the fairgrounds for parking were visible everywhere… Police were at intersections directing (yet to peak) Eclipse traffic. A beautiful little Wyoming town! The store owner below had his priorities in the right place.
However, our destination was approximately 20 miles south of Lusk, right where the center of Totality would be. So after our break, we again mounted up, and headed south on US Hwy 85… until we ran out of people & reached the 20-mile south mark. There, we found the quiet site below… along the Highway on a recently mowed Hwy 85 easement. Victor, our guide car driver, pulled over and soon we had shop set up!
Our group is all set up… and Victor is checking out our Eclipse glasses.
A Fun bunch of people… waiting.
The Eclipse starts! Notice the indentation of the Moon on the upper right-hand side.
We were all fascinated… As late comers arrived, driving down the Highway, Donna pointed out the Eclipsing Sun to them… Look! Look!
As the Moon covers more of the Sun, the landscape darkens…
Late arrivers parked about a half mile further south… and hurriedly climbed up to the top a nearby butte for a better view.
It is clearly getting darker… we are eagerly… and patiently… waiting.
Eclipse Totality arrived. Words can’t describe the feeling at this moment… below are six pictures, taken about 5 seconds apart, in numbered sequence of 1600 – 1605, of the Eclipse arriving:
During Totality, the landscape looked like below…
During this time, Alice & I noted the following thoughts & observations about the Eclipse Totality:
- The Eclipse came on slowly… taking about 21/2 hours in total.
- The beginning of the Moon eclipsing the Sun… is hard to detect – with Eclipse glasses, the edge of the blocking Moon can be seen (in our case) at about the “1:00 O’clock” position on the Sun’s orb.
- About 15 minutes before Totality, the temperature started to slowly drop… eventually to about 12° cooler during Full Totality.
- As Totality came closer, there slowly appeared a darker ‘360° sunset’ aura of light… like the best sunset that you have ever seen, only coming from all sides around you.
- During Totality, it did not become pitch black… but it did become quite dark… stars could be seen…. and in our case, just an ever-so-slight sliver of sunlight glowing around the orb of the ‘black of the Moon’. (see pictures)
- During Totality, Eclipse glasses were not needed.
- During Totality, crickets came out… and started to chirp.
- During totality, it cooled so much that several of our group put on their jackets (prior to totality, about 85°).
- During totality, the prairie wind came to an ‘almost stop’.
- Immediately at the end of Totality… a glittering ‘sparkle point’ of the sun’s glow appeared on the edge of the black Moon at about the 1:00 O’clock position point… and slowly grew larger.
- As the sun began to slide out from behind the Moon… the ‘360° sunset’ aura took on the strangest of colors… kind of like a ‘pumpkin’ orange…
- After Totality, the temperatures began to get warmer… crickets disappeared… and the wind picked up again. After 30 minutes, still cool, but had become comfortably warm.
And the general consensus feeling of our group? Greatly in awe of what we had just witnessed. Not life changing, but an enhanced awareness of a Universe bigger than us.
All to soon, after roughly 21/2 minutes, the Totality begin to show the passage of the Moon. The below five pictures, taken about 5 seconds apart, in numbered sequence of 1619 – 1623, show the last half-minute of Totality:
It was just awesome…
The below picture shows the view to the East just after the Eclipse totality was over.
As the Moon passed on beyond the Sun, things quickly lightened….
And, as things lightened, people begin to leave.
However, we continued watching until the end…
After the above picture, the sunlight continued to reappear quickly… seemingly more quickly than it had disappeared as the Eclipse approached. We stayed until the Eclipse was fully over, then battled heavy traffic going back home using the same route that we had come in on. We were tired… but completely in awe of what we had just witnessed and experienced.
This concludes our post about ‘chasing The Great American Eclipse of 2017’. For those of us fortunate to be a part of this… it has become an unforgettable experience. And, for those who have not yet experienced a Full Totality Eclipse… You get another chance on April 8, 2024 – Click here to check it out!
Thank you for viewing. Any questions or comments please feel free to contact us!
Jim & Alice LaPeer
To view a full-screen, high-resolution slideshow of Chasing a Darkened Sun, click the ‘curved arrow‘ just below the picture on the right. To return to normal display, hit [Esc] key. Otherwise, place cursor over the picture to display the slideshow control buttons. Comments are Welcomed!