Photo by Kyle Lin Totality in Sylva, North Carolina
We were fortunate in Sylva in the mountains of Western North Carolina to experience totality in the 2017 Solar Eclipse. I was not initially as excited as my science enthusiast Favorite Yankee. At first I read lots of warnings and had determined to stay inside and watch it on TV at the advice of some ophthalmologists on Facebook. But something changed.
Totality in my community and its anticipation became a big event. There was an Eclipse Festival scheduled for August 18-21 in downtown Sylva. Thousands of visitors were expected. I began to get caught up in the excitement and decided to don my glasses and participate.
It was a hot day on August 21, but the Yankee and I positioned our lawn chairs on the driveway to get the best view. We tuned in on my iPhone to Western Carolina University’s live broadcast on the event. My friend, Associate Professor Enrique Gomez, is a physics and astronomy professor who walked us through the eclipse on the broadcast. I was not that excited as I donned my glasses and watched as the moon moved over the sun. But suddenly, darkness began to fall, things became extremely quiet, and the temperature rapidly dropped. Then totality began. It was absolutely amazing. We could hear the students at Western Carolina University cheering across the ridge as it began.
I had never seen anything Iike it. The event was miraculous, a manifestation of the orderly progression of the universe. At that moment, time stood still and all eyes looked up in wonder. The silence and the darkness seemed to stop the craziness of the world if only for a couple of minutes.
I took it as a message. I am a part of something much larger. My fellow human beings are no different from me. Though chaos and despair may surround us, some things in the universe are constant, magnificent, and comforting.
It was an amazing day in the mountains.