Total Eclipse on the Prairie

Well, if you’re expecting photos of the sun with the shadow of the moon in front of it, I’m sorry to disappoint you.  I figured every other photographer in the world would be taking that photo, so I zigged when they zagged.

We were really fortunate that our Platte River Prairies were right smack in the middle of the path of totality for this year’s solar eclipse, and despite some high clouds here and there, we ended up with a very nice clear view of the eclipse.  We hosted a viewing event for about 150 of our good friends, and it was a truly magical experience.  I don’t really have a lot to say about the science of the eclipse (I was mostly trying to enjoy the experience, not analyze it) but thought I’d share a few photos of what the experience was like on the ground.

Standing around watching people look at the sun through goofy glasses was an experience in itself…

My brother-in-law, Austin Bontrager is an amateur astronomer and greatly enhanced our experience by giving an introductory presentation and then setting up his telescope with a camera and live feed of the sun we could watch on a big monitor. Seeing the eclipse happen on an image of the sun the size of a basketball was extraordinary – especially the chance to see sun spots and solar flares at the same time.

This kid had the best eclipse mask of the day.

Despite quite a few people at the event, everyone was able to spread out and find their own personal piece of prairie to watch from. It really didn’t feel crowded at all.

As we neared totality, we got the 360 degrees of sunset color we’d heard about. It was truly amazing.

Once the moon had completely covered the sun, it was safe to look at it without protective glasses. We had a little more than 2 minutes before the signal sounded to put our glasses back on, and the first bright beam of sunlight came bursting out again.

The two minutes or so of totality blew by really fast. There wasn’t really much time to pay attention to whether insect sounds changed or evening flowers opened. We were all too busy just soaking in the experience.

We had visitors from around Nebraska, as well as from states like Texas, Minnesota, Colorado, and others. Based on our first experience with a total solar eclipse, Kim and I are already talking about trying to travel somewhere in the patch of totality to see the 2024 eclipse…