Link Observatory
 
Total Eclipse
 

Nothing could prepare us for what we were about to experience...

This week, people from all over planet Earth converged on the United States. These are people who make it a point to travel to wherever the Moon's shadow is going to touch the earth, and position themselves in a spot carefully chosen - sometimes years in advance - to ensure they experience this magnificent event. 

They came to America, because for the first time in 100 years, a Total Eclipse of the Sun traversed our great country from coast to coast, and we played host to the world's eclipse-chasers. For those of us who already live here, but had never seen an eclipse, this was the opportunity of a lifetime - to see the most beautiful thing on the planet…

Hundreds of cities and towns along the path of the “Eclipse Across America” had prepared for the massive crowds and created official eclipse viewing areas ensuring the comfort, enjoyment and safety of their guests. The millions who converged on those sites to view the eclipse had already begun their countdown to eclipse day, and nothing was going to stand in their way.

Then, on August 21st, 2017, the party began...

No human action can disrupt the incessant dance of the cosmos, and the Moon's shadow would not wait for those who weren't ready. Like a mindless juggernaut, it plowed its way through space on a collision course with Earth. As predicted by astronomers’ decades in advance, the shadow arrived with perfect accuracy, and touched down in the North Pacific Ocean at local sunrise. And at that point, the Sun rose totally eclipsed.

Then, a moment later, the entire Shadow of the Moon raced westward across the surface of the Pacific Ocean at supersonic speeds on its way to America, and on its way to us.

The Shadow of the Moon crossed the United States in only 1 hour, 33 minutes and 16 seconds and was the most viewed and most photographed solar eclipse in world history. In that short period of time, tens of millions of people in our country had their perceptions, and their lives, changed forever.

We were there, and this is our story.

For all of us at the Link Observatory Space Science Institute, it all began in January this year as our Deputy Director and Chief Operating Office Kurt Williams proposed the idea and developed the plan for the "2017 Eclipse Tour" an epic journey to the heart of the total eclipse in western Kentucky.

What started out as a one bus tour evolved into 5 buses and almost 300 people from all over the Midwest. It was a massive campaign involving 300 box lunches prepared by Kroger, Sun Chips, Moon Pies, 50 cases of water, snacks, tables, grab bags, raffles, games, photo props, eclipse glasses, t-shirts, solar binoculars, and of course, our Hydrogen-Alpha solar telescopes. Debbie Rodney, our volunteer tour coordinator, did an epic job of creating all the details for this once-in-a-lifetime event.

We also created a LinkLive multimedia event titled "Eclipse Across America" and provided over 50 events to record-setting sell-out crowds in schools, libraries, civic clubs, the Indiana State Fair and other public venues to crowds totaling in the thousands. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory provided us with over 8000 free solar eclipse glasses which we distributed to schools throughout central Indiana. Our programs were covered by a variety of websites, newspapers, radio programs and local TV stations leading up to the event concluding with a live interview on FOX59 Sunday Morning News on August 20.

At 5:30am on Monday morning hundreds of cars converged at a large church parking lot on the south-east side of Indianapolis. Excited participants from throughout the Midwest lined up at 5 registration tables to sign in and receive their grab bags, then rushed off to their assigned buses. Dozens of volunteers helped load the buses with thousands of pounds of food, tables and gear as we prepared to depart on our epic journey.

Then, at 6:37am the engines fired up and to the roar of the crowd we departed. Like a rolling battalion of people movers, our convoy headed south to the music of the Beatles classic "Here Comes the Sun". Emmy Award winning reporter Rafael Sanchez and his film crew from RTV 6 joined us for our epic 250 mile journey to the center of the shadow path; the small town of Princeton, Kentucky population 6,300.

When we arrived in Princeton, we received a full police escort with lights flashing and sirens blaring as they led us to our prearranged viewing site at a public baseball field. Townspeople waved and cheered us on as we slowly made our way to our final destination.

We arrived just as the eclipse cycle started and a flurry of activity followed as we quickly unloaded the thousands of pounds of food, snacks, drinks, tables and solar telescopes. And then, at 2:25 local Indianapolis time, the sky darkened and the entire spectrum of light changed to a silver blue as we counted down the final seconds to the Total Eclipse of the Sun. You could actually feel the excitement in the air.

Then, with a flash of light known as the Diamond Ring, the Sun disappeared and everything changed. We all were engulfed in a surreal dream-like darkness, surrounded by the red hues of a 360 degree sunset. Where once there was the Sun, now was an impossibly black hole encircled by a magnificent, almost supernatural purple/pink corona. Following a roaring cheer, complete silence fell as we were all overcome with absolute awe. For the next 2 minutes and 40 seconds we just stood there, amazed by the spectacle. Each of us, in our own personal way, silently consumed this overwhelming encounter of orbital dynamics.

It's impossible to describe the visual and emotional experience as you stand in the shadow of the Moon, it has to be one of the most memorable experiences of a lifetime. One participant summed it all up in a simple but eloquent statement: "Where is the next Total Eclipse of the Sun, and how can I get there".

There is so much more to come as we pursue our mission to propel the state of Indiana into a leadership role in STEM education. But as we look at our accomplishments, this is one for the record books. Many thanks to our incredible team here at the Link Observatory Space Science Institute for making this an epic event:

Kurt Williams - Deputy Director/Chief Operating Officer
John Shepherd - Chief Science Officer
Mike Newberg - Director of Public Engagement
Amy Shankland - Development Manager
Kim McCauley - Social Media Manager

And special thanks to Debbie Rodney for her remarkable efforts as our "2017 Eclipse Tour" volunteer event coordinator.

For an excellent video record of our Tour, please visit the RTV 6 website:

more info

Best to All,

Greg McCauley - Executive Director/CEO
Link Observatory Space Science Institute


 
Follow Us

Home

Upcoming Events

Visit the Observatory

Map to the Observatory

STEM Educational Programs

Public Engagement Programs

LinkLive Events

Virtual Reality Exhibits

Observatory Viewing

Solar Viewing

Live Virtual Conferences

About Us

Executive Staff

Social Media

In The News

Newsletter

Our Affiliations

Support Us

Contact Us

Get Involved


Social Media Copyright © 2012 - 2017 Link Observatory Space Science Institute
Educational Programs and Resources in NASA Missions, Astronomy and Space Exploration
Member NASA Museum Alliance
Link