Sun Valley Eclipse

by Mary on September 10, 2017

Eclipse totality photo by my husband

I’ve always been drawn to natural wonders that bring strangers together in awe, so there was no question that my husband and I would try to see this summer’s total eclipse. Sun Valley, Idaho is Mecca for figure skating in the summer and was also in the path of totality, so it was the obvious choice for us for eclipse day.

My husband and I have sought out astronomical events since we drove, as newlyweds, to the West Texas desert to see Halley’s comet from a dark wilderness sky. Since then we’ve seen the two transits of Venus, ┬áthe annual summer Perseids, and a spectacular Leonid meteor storm that was amazing for the fact that we were able to see it at all.

It was predicted to be the best for a century but the chances of seeing anything but clouds from Seattle during our rainiest month of November are dim. On the day of the meteor superstorm, though, the skies dawned clear. So we bundled up our children, sleeping bags, and a big Thermos of hot cocoa and drove to the top of Snoqualmie Pass where we settled into a field with others.

We watched the fireballs rain down all night, then drove to the airport where we had an early morning flight with the kids. It was crazy, but I’m glad we were were young and ambitious because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that.

Eclipse morning found us in a different field, on a hill covered with amber wild grass and with two of our now-grown sons. As the eclipse progressed so did the strangely dimming light. Remembering the tale of the battlefield of Thales where an eclipse prompted a hasty peace, we speculated on when, during the heat of battle, the impending weirdness would be compelling enough for combat to stop.

About five minutes before totality two deer galloped by, clearly spooked. About two minutes before, my son declared “NOW is the time you would throw down your weapons” and we all agreed. Soon the last of Baily’s beads blinked out and I was looking into the sky of another planet. One with a black sun haloed by trailing rays of light set into an indigo sky. Bright Venus shone nearby.

Before I could begin to get my bearings the sun glinted through the other side of the moon like a shining diamond and I had to look away.

Eclipse diamond ring photo by my husband

Wishing moments of awe, joy, and togetherness to all.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo September 11, 2017 at 1:25 am

Those are incredible! It was fun to hear about the latest of your astronomical adventures. And it was so great to have totality AND ice dancing in the same place. What could be better? Was your skating eclipsed? Can’t wait to hear more.
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Mary September 11, 2017 at 1:56 am

Yes that was an amazing coincidence and made our eclipse spot a no-brainer. There was even a big astronomical conference there with 400 scientists. Yes, along with daily ice dance sessions. I didn’t skate on that Monday, but I did during the rest of the week. I hope I will get to sharing more. Would love to hear more about your experience in Oregon, too. Were you in Madras?

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Jo September 12, 2017 at 2:36 am

We were in the little town of Monmouth, OR. Gorgeous, clear weather and lots of eclipse fans out in full force. We did our viewing from a cemetery! So lots of long-dead people rather than those lively ice dancers.
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Mary September 14, 2017 at 3:31 am

I’m glad we both had clear weather. A few days later at Sun Valley it was cloudy which made me think about how lucky we were.

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Eva at Eva Bakes September 11, 2017 at 10:23 am

Wow – those are stunning photos! How did your husband set up for these shots? And please tell us about Sun Valley!
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Mary September 16, 2017 at 4:37 am

He had his Nikon D500 with a Nikon 200-500 mm telephoto, no filter (during the totality), on a tripod. I hope I will get to telling you about Sun Valley. I have photos of the show to go through.

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Melissa September 12, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Gorgeous photos! Thank you for sharing these adventures. How wonderful to have a week of total eclipse AND skating!

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Mary September 14, 2017 at 3:32 am

Thanks Melissa! It was wonderful!

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