Seeing the Total Eclipse Brought Me Back to Earth

 By Nikolaj Lasbo, Digital/Social Marketing Manager

A chill ran down my body as the brightness of the sky faded and I removed my eclipse glasses — now safe to look directly at the eclipsed sun. Seeing only the sun’s corona with your naked eyes is a hard thing to believe and wrap your mind around. It was a humbling experience — a tangible orienteering of our spot in this corner of the cosmos.

A photo of the total eclipse from Ochoco National Forest in Oregon. Photo © Jim Alan Smith.

I’d traveled with my girlfriend to the middle of Ochoco National Forest in Oregon, where we’d stationed ourselves with another small group amid a stand of pines to witness the eclipse.

 “Nothing could have prepared me for that,” a teenage visitor from California told me as the sun returned after the totality.

A photo through the viewfinder of the telescope. Zoom in to see sunspots on the top right of the sun. 

Besides eclipse glasses, this group had come prepared with a large telescope, eclipse viewing boxes, white-paper pinhole experiments and other fun science projects that I, too, got caught up in before the totality, running back frequently to the telescope’s eyepiece to view the moon as it tracked across the sun. But as the moon blotted out the sun’s rays, daytime turned to night, stars appeared in the sky and the birds in the pines went silent, we stood transfixed in near-darkness.

Watch the timelapse below to see the moments before and after the total eclipse in Ochoco National Forest:

Timelapse by Diane Stewart

After more than 90 seconds, a sliver of sunlight reappeared and shadows from the pine trees returned to the ground. The small group of viewers — some who traveled here together, others, like us, who made new friends — let out a cheer. This small clearing in the Oregon wilderness united a disparate group of travelers — we quickly exchanged emails to share photos. “See you at the next eclipse,” I joked.

Our random assortment of eclipse viewers: families, partners and friends. Photo © Connie O'Grady

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On my way back down the small potholed service road, I gazed around at ponderosa pines, back up to the sky, then down on the high prairies and gazing south toward the unique Central Oregon landscape — near The Nature Conservancy’s Juniper Hills Preserve. I held a new perspective on the wonder around — above and below the heavens. A cosmic event brought me right back to Earth, our only home.

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