The August 21, 2017 eclipse was one that we were determined to see and it was worth the effort not only for us but for the thousands of other people who traveled to the states that experienced totality. Hopkinsville, Kentucky was the best viewing area for us so we packed up the jeep and drove the six and a half hours total (we did a layover in Louisville, Kentucky) to get to our reserved spot on the grounds of the All Nations House of Prayer. It was an ideal viewing area as it situated in a large open field behind the church surrounded partially by woods, a few homes and a corn field. There were no power lines or light posts to get in the way and while the day was very warm and humid, the skies were perfect for viewing the eclipse… except for that one little cloud that covered the sun for a couple of minutes.
People came to Hopkinsville (population of around 32,000 as of the 2010 census) from all over. In our viewing area there were vehicles from Ohio, Kentucky, Ontario, Arizona, Texas and Michigan. Many came that day while some came a day or two before and camped out. The church did a fantastic job in taking care of all of us eclipse chasers; they were all so sweet and helpful. There were porta potties – color coded pink and blue – a hand washing station and free coffee and donuts in the morning. On the day of the eclipse they had chips and soda pop for sale along with hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches and turkey legs! DH took a photo of me diving into a turkey leg but in order to see that savagery you’ll have to check out my Instagram feed 😉
Many in attendance brought their own food, water and snacks with some family groups having enough goodies to open a small snack bar; setting up games to play until the time of the eclipse. The atmosphere was reminiscent of being at an outdoor concert or sporting event. Some people came by themselves, there were couples, various sized family groups and one gentleman who drove his elderly no longer able to drive parents there to witness the eclipse. It was also a gear lovers oasis as all manner of equipment was being used to view and record the eclipse. One fellow, whose father was also an eclipse chaser, had a set of very high powered binoculars that allowed me to not only look safely at the sun but to also see its sunspots. Wow! A young man parked behind us was shooting tethered to his laptop with an app he had downloaded specifically for the eclipse. The app called out when the different contacts were and counted down to totality; some of us went old school low tech with printed time sheets of those times.
As first contact occurred, the cry went out across the field and everyone put on their glasses and looked up. The phases as the moon crossed the sun took awhile so some only periodically looked up while others recorded and pretty much watched it all. The excitement level rose when the diamond ring and then Bailys Beads came into view and then, as the robotic voice of the eclipse app counted down to totality – there it was! As the saying goes, the crowd went wild! It was the most amazing thing to ever be part of and the quickest for even though totality lasted almost two and a half minutes, it was over so quickly with everyone once again clapping and cheering as the sun returned.
My original plans included photographing what would be happening around me as totality occurred but that didn’t happen. I was too engrossed with seeing it all unfold before my eyes and taking those photos. What I did notice up to and including totality is that the temperature dropped, the sky went from the light blue that happens when the sun is at it’s highest point in the sky to a darker and darker blue until it was night time in the middle of the day; the birds and insects went quiet.
Words just cannot fully describe how amazing it all was and in 2024 when there will be another great American eclipse, we will be there. I will share my totality photos (I couldn’t get a solar lens in time so there are no other shots) as soon as I can. What should’ve taken the six and a half hours to drive non-stop back home turned into that same amount of time just to get back to Louisville – which is normally a two and a half hour drive! The reverse migration turned every road and highway out of town into a five mile an hour crawl. I am very thankful we were able to find a hotel room to crash in for the night; every other motel and hotel along the highway was sold out with weary eclipse travelers.