On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse cast its shadow from one coast of the United States to the other. Sky & Telescope was there, and we captured some of your eclipse reactions.

At Sky & Telescope we love astronomy — and we especially enjoy sharing that love with others. When the total eclipse crossed the United States, you can bet we were watching it alongside friends, both new and old.

Whether you're an eclipse-chasing veteran or this is your first glimpse of totality, there's always something to surprise and astound you. We wanted to capture on video some of the reactions our friends had following the eclipse.

We hope you had a chance to see this cosmic event — and if not, spend the next one with us!

Tell us in the comments, if you saw totality, what most surprised you?

Video edited and produced by Janine Myszka, interviews by S&T editors across the path of the eclipse.


Image of Shawn Quinn

Shawn Quinn

August 26, 2017 at 8:28 am

The solar eclipse and especially totality, was the most visually spectacular natural phenonoma I have observed in my entire life. Observing the sun and moon during totality evoked primal feelings of awe and wonder. During those brief 2 minutes, I could truly understand why ancient humans worshipped the sun and moon. While watching the coronal aura change right before my eyes, the sun became alive ... almost a supernatural being.

My Father-in-law and I traveled from Florida and Texas to Eastern Oregon and viewed the eclipse from BLM lands near John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. I imaged the eclipse with a Nikon D810 controlled by Solar Eclipse Maestro Software running on a Mac Book Air, a Nikon 200mm-500mm lens @500mm, and an Astrotrac Tracking Mount. The set-up and automation produced beautiful images allowing me to view totality through binoculars with my own eyes without worry or distractions of operating the camera. I must say the two Sky and Telescope webinars hosted by Fred Espenak were exceptionally helpful! Thank You!!!!

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Image of David


September 1, 2017 at 12:32 am

My wife and I were in Torrington, WY, and it was our first total eclipse, and it was glorious. Torrington isn't a very big place, and there were about a dozen of us where we were, but when totality was beginning we could hear everyone around town cheering (that was cool!). The corona was exquisite to behold. I made out a few pink prominences on the western limb. The sky wasn't as dark as we expected, and only Venus was obvious among the planets. I saw either Regulus or Mercury with about 30 seconds left (still trying to figure which). Saw the diamond ring at 3rd contact, which was amazing. Maybe the most surprising thing was how fast the light came back after totality.

I observed first and fourth contact with 10x50 binoculars with solar filters made from eclipse glasses, as seen in the June(?) Sky&Telescope, and they worked great! It really helped to use the binocs, especially at those extremities, plus we could make out the sun spots, which was cool. Thanks!

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Image of DrLapser


September 1, 2017 at 4:37 pm

During totality, I watched through a Vixen 117mm telescope. The Sun filled the field, so I got a great close-up view of the large, red solar prominence. I could hardly take my eyes off of it. It was so incredibly beautiful, like nothing I've seen before! That's the main image burned into my memory forever.

I unglued myself from the eyepiece (one of the hardest things I've ever done) to take a look at the corona. Wow! Then I glanced around and recognized Venus, then Jupiter and saw a bunch of other stars to the north. Then I went back to the eclipsed Sun, naked eye, and took the whole scene in for a few moments. Wow! Wow! Finally, I glued myself back to the eyepiece.

As soon as the first hint of sunlight shone through gaps in the Moon's mountains, it felt like it went all the way through my eyes and out the back of my head! I learned that you can't see Bailey's beads through the eyepiece of a high power telescope!

I also captured the entire eclipse using a CHDK time lapse script running inside a Canon EOS-M3 looking through an 80mm APO refractor. Here's the eclipse time lapse:

The eclipse photos are on a Facebook page, but you don't need to have a Facebook account to see them. Just click here:

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Image of Michael-Finkelstein


September 1, 2017 at 8:09 pm

In 1969 while at the University of Miami, some college buddies and I, on the spur of the moment, decided at 11:30 on a Friday night to view the launch of Apollo 10 scheduled for 9am the next morning. We hopped in my Camaro at 3am and blasted up the Sunshine State Parkway at 90mph headed for the Cape. The awesome sound and fury of the Saturn V raised the hair on the back of my neck and arms and other than the birth of my two sons, nothing else in my life has had that kind of effect on me until this eclipse.

After flying alone to Nashville from New Jersey (my wife had no interest in coming) I found a very pleasant viewing sight in Hendersonville, TN which provided at their local park free hot dogs, an ice filled kiddie pool with bottled water and 2:33 of totality. I came without any equipment, other than my cell phone camera and the binocular filters I made based on Jerry Oltion's S&T article, sacrificing a pair of cardboard eclipse glasses in the process. I wanted to view my first total eclipse with just my eyes and without the distraction of F stops and shutter settings. As totality approached a small cloud temporarily interfered with the view, eliciting groans and booing from the crowd that had gathered in the park but miraculously, with only a minute or two to go, it either floated away or just dissipated, I'm not sure which. The darkened sky, the sound of crickets, the hush of the crowd, the weird lighting all around and the awesome image of the sun, there but not there at the same time, had the same effect on me as that Saturn V launch 48 years ago. The hair on my arms and the back of my neck stood straight out and for some reason that I'm still trying to figure out, tears came to my eyes. It was an emotional experience I was totally unprepared for and is something I'll never, ever forget.

After returning home, I told my wife, sons (now grown up with families of their own) and friends that a total eclipse of the sun is something that everyone must view with their own eyes at least once in their lives. I am already thinking about the eclipse on April 8th of 2024 and hope I'll have company with me next time.

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Image of Randall Osczevski

Randall Osczevski

September 7, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Michael, I saw the total eclipse of the Sun in February 1979, in Saskatchewan. Even now, almost 40 years later, I get goose bumps, tears come to my eyes, and I lose the ability to speak when I try to talk to anyone about it. I didn't go to the recent one. That must be why.

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Image of Debra-Martin


September 15, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Michael, I was fortunate enough to live in Oregon where it was at 98% in our town and that was good enough for my husband but not for me. I didn't know why, but I wanted to see totality for once in my life. I only had to travel 40 minutes to just north of Salem, OR to get a perfect campsite for 1:45 of totality. My daughter flew up from San Francisco to camp the weekend with me. The Oregon weather in the valley is usually clear in August, but not certain. However we had a perfectly clear cloudless morning, even better viewing than Madras, OR on the desert side as forest fires were hazing the atmosphere there.

I followed advice to not even try to photograph, just absorb. And like you, I did not anticipate nor believe the emotional wave that swept over me when the eclipse snapped into totality and the glasses came off. All I could do was utter, "Oh my God" over and over again. Tears streamed down my face which they do every time I remember it. I felt as though I was in the presence of God. The explosion of silver strings of light in a halo around the darkest hole you've every seen can't be captured, only felt. I too found it to be one of the top three experiences of my life, the others being the birth of my children and being present at the death of my father. They all share a primordial existence. Anyone seeing only a partial eclipse will not say that. I've heard it more than once from those who have.

It is difficult to explain to those who settled for 99.9%, that they saw 0% of what we did. It is like the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" - we are in a group mesmerized by what we saw. No photograph, no video, no pinhole projection can elicit the reaction to presence at totality does. I just feel very fortunate that I decided to make it to this one and didn't let the "what's the big deal" naysayers distract me. I wouldn't have known what I was missing, but now I know what they did. I am already planning for the 2024. That one passes over my family farm in Illinois. I'm saving my Sky and Telescope glasses for everyone I will convince they MUST see this in person.

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Image of Somiller


September 29, 2017 at 5:39 pm

Michael, Randall, Debra,
Thank you for your stories. I am glad to know I have company in others who experienced the overwhelming emotion, and unexpected tears I experienced at totality.
Michael, I was with my sister in Crossville, TN, up the road about 1 1/2 hours east of Nashville. You describe the cloud (and it was a large one) in the minute or two before totality, which was coasting directly towards the sun. My sister and I commented that it was going to ruin the eclipse for us. Moments later, when we turned back to view the eclipse, the cloud had disappeared...how lucky we were. Michael, if your family won't join you for the 2024 eclipse, come join us in Ohio, we'd be happy to have you.

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