People in southwest Michigan saw only a partial eclipse of the sun on Monday, if clouds didn't get in the way. About 82-percent of the sun's surface was hidden by the moon. But other parts of the country were treated to a total eclipse and many Michiganders took to the road to witness the spectacle. I was one of them. My brother Russell and I drove an hour south of Saint Louis, Missouri, to experience “totality” for the first time with some friends.
Having seen several partial solar eclipses over the years, I was a bit skeptical when I heard others rave about their total eclipse experiences. I discovered that, if anything, their descriptions fell short of fully describing what I saw and felt. "Awesome" is a much over-used word these days but it surely applies in this case.
As the sun slipped slowly behind the moon's black disk, birds and insects did stop singing, the air became still, and the temperature dropped. The light around us took on an eerie quality that's hard to put into words. The horizon took on the colors of sunset or sunrise and clouds suddenly evaporated as they lost the sun's energy. Most stunning of all was the corona, the super-hot plasma that surrounds the sun in fine streamers and filaments but is only visible during a total eclipse. No photograph can do it justice.
The next total eclipse of the sun in the U.S. will be in 2024 but we in Michigan will again have to travel to other states to get the full effect. It's worth it. Southwest Michigan won't get its next total eclipse of the sun until 2099.