We who live here in Oregon, along roughly the line of the 45th parallel, were very fortunate to be under the path of totality during the total eclipse of 2017. I had experienced eclipses before, several partial, one annular, and one total that was completely obscured by heavy clouds in 1979. But this was my first experience of totality during a clear day, and it was absolutely stunning. A partial eclipse of even 99.9% is no match for 100%. You are completely blown away by what's happening all around you. The temperature drops significantly. Animals become quiet and some prepare for sleep. The day begins to dim, transforming into a strange grayish tone all around. Sometimes, mysterious "shadow snakes" appear on flat, smooth areas. Under leafy trees, curious crescent-shaped shadows appear.
And then, all of a sudden, totality! The day is no longer day, it's something else. You take off your eye protection. By the naked eye, you see a black hole in the sun, and the sun's super-heated atmosphere, the corona, spreads its glowing rays all around the disk. It is quiet all around you. Street lights may have come on. The horizon is ringed by a 360-degree "sunset", yet you know the sun is above you. Stars and planets appear in the sky. And you gaze upwards in awe.
All too soon, the process is reversed. A pure white flash appears where the moon begins to move past the edge of the sun. It's time to put your solar eye shields back on and watch the sun reappear. Little by little, the world returns to its normal state, and because of the majesty and wonder of the event you just experienced, you are a little sad that it is gone. Yet, you are still euphoric at having experienced one of the most amazing phenomena in all of creation. The glow of the experience will stay with you for the rest of the day. And the memory of it will never leave you.
The next total solar eclipse for America is scheduled for April 8, 2024, traversing the USA from Texas to Maine. If you are able, I strongly encourage you to try to experience it in person. It is unforgettable and truly breathtaking.