April 16, 2024

Capturing The Total Solar Eclipse

Have you ever witnessed the universe put on its most awe-inspiring show? Picture this: the sun gradually obscured by the moon, casting a uncharacteristic midday shadow on the Earth below. This is the magic of a total solar eclipse!  Add in that rarity of the occurrence and this photographer had to seize the opportunity to take a 3 hour drive to witness this event in the path of totality!

Switchyard Park

It was a beautiful day in Bloomington.  Temps were forecasted to be 76 degrees, the sun was shining and the skies were mostly clear.  Perfect conditions in my book!  We arrived at Switchyard Park early and found the perfect location on a hill surrounded by some very nice people and a couple of entertaining dogs.  It wasn't overly crowded, but there was a decent amount of people scattered throughout Switchyard Park.  Everyone was enjoying the music serenading us from the band stand.  There were food truck vendors, a play area and crafts for the kids, and plenty of open space for several groups of people to play catch, frisbee and a variety of other games. 

total solar eclipse, bloomington, Indiana, April 2024, diamond ring, path of totality


What is a Total Solar Eclipse?

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth, obscuring the sun completely and plunging parts of the Earth into darkness. Furthermore, it's a celestial alignment that leaves spectators in utter amazement as they witness the sun's corona, its outer atmosphere, shining like a beautiful halo against the darkened sky.

Rare and Enchanting

Total solar eclipses are rare cosmic occurrences, happening only when the alignment of the sun, moon, and Earth is just right. If you were in Bloomington, IN as I was, we witnessed totality for a little over 4 minutes and  I can tell you that those 4 minutes FLEW by!  However, the entire process thankfully took a few hours.  Thankfully, we arrived early enough for me to set up my camera and get my settings dialed in long before the event began.  Considering it takes a few hours for the moon to glide past the sun, it's mind boggling that as the moon's shadow races across the Earth's surface at speeds of over 1,000 miles per hour.

total solar eclipse, bloomington, Indiana, April 2024, diamond ring, path of totality


A Momentous Occasion

On April 8, 2024, it seemed like our portion of the world stood still as a total solar eclipse graced the skies once again. This event differed from the annular eclipse of 2017, where the moon did not completely cover the sun, leaving a ring of fiery brilliance visible around its edges. In contrast, the 2024 eclipse offered a rare chance to experience complete coverage.  I'll admit that it wasn't quite as dark as I expected it to get, but it was definitely darker than it had been.  Additionally, those of us in our group noticed the temperature change as well.  I didn't check to see how chilly it ended up getting, but there was a noticeable difference.   


total solar eclipse, bloomington, Indiana, April 2024, Bailey's beads, path of totality


Good Enough

Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana were not in the path of totality.  However, they were expected to within the +90% range of totality.  Because of this, I ran into a lot of people who felt this was "good enough."  However, as a photographer, I couldn't settle for "good enough" especially when totality is only a few hour away!  I HAD to see and capture the eclipse in totality!  

Experiencing the Magic

Imagine standing under the open sky, surrounded by fellow stargazers, as the world transforms before your very eyes. Witnessing a total solar eclipse is not just a visual spectacle; it's an emotional journey that stirs the soul and leaves an indelible mark on those who witness it.  

The Slow Journey

As the moon begins its slow journey across the face of the sun, anticipation fills the air. Excitement builds with each passing minute, as the world prepares to be enveloped in darkness. Then, as totality approaches, a hush falls over the crowd before the cheers emanate signaling totality.

In that fleeting moment of totality, emotions run high. Some feel a sense of wonder and awe, humbled by the majesty of the cosmos. Others are overcome with a profound sense of connection, as they stand united with thousands of others, all gazing in wonder at the same celestial spectacle. And for some, it's simply a moment of pure joy, a chance to witness nature's beauty in its purest form.  I'll admit...a few tears were shed that day.  Was it the repeated viewing of the sun irritating my eyes or the emotions of the moment?  I don't know, but I didn't have that choked up feeling that I normally experience when crying yet they fell anyways.

But perhaps the most overwhelming emotion of all is gratitude – gratitude for the opportunity to witness such a rare and awe-inspiring event, gratitude for the wonders of the universe, and gratitude for the shared experience that binds us all together.  There were a few key people who played integral roles in my ability to witness this phenomenon first hand and for them I will be forever grateful. 

 

Fascinating Facts about Total Solar Eclipses

- Total solar eclipses have been recorded throughout history, captivating civilizations and inspiring myths and legends.
- The path of totality, the narrow strip where the total eclipse is visible, is often less than 100 miles wide, making it an exclusive spectacle for those within its bounds.
- Animals may exhibit peculiar behaviors during a total solar eclipse, mistaking the sudden darkness for nighttime and preparing for sleep or seeking shelter.

Looking Ahead: The Next Total Eclipse

If you missed the celestial show in 2024, fear not! The next total solar eclipse is on the horizon. On August 12, 2026, the moon will once again steal the spotlight, treating spectators in North America to another breathtaking display of cosmic grandeur.

A total solar eclipse is more than just a celestial event; it's a reminder of our place in the vast cosmos. So, mark your calendars, gather your loved ones, and prepare to witness nature's most dazzling spectacle. The next total eclipse awaits, promising to leave you spellbound and in awe of the wonders of the universe.  I know I am already starting to plan my next adventures to witness the next total solar eclipse!


Interested in purchasing prints or the digital images?  Contact me for more details!  

About the Author Amy Paris Jackson

Amy is a professional portrait photographer in NW Indiana. She specializes in glamour and boudoir photography because she takes great joy in empowering women of all ages and sizes to look and feel beautiful. She also loves watching her clients’ self-confidence, self-accept, and self-love re-emerge during their photoshoots as they see how truly beautiful they are.

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  1. Thank you for sharing this!!! I love it! Great job, you have amazing talent Amy! Not only for your gorgeous photos, but also your writing..Confident and beautiful, like you!

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