I knew about this total eclipse from 5 years ago from my last eclipse viewing at Bryce Canyon. The previous viewing was an Annular Solar Eclipse which means the moon is not close enough to cover the whole sun. But this time it will be different. The moon will be closer and will appear to be bigger and will be able to cover the whole sun. I booked the trip from 1 year ago. I also used this occasion to visit Yellowstone National Park. Separately, I have a lot of pictures from Yellowstone to show you later.
The Center of the Path traverses from Oregon to Florida. I chose to go to Jackson Hole where the center of the Path crosses just north of Jackson Hole in the Grand Teton National Park. The weather is dry here with better chance of cloudless skies and plenty of beautiful nature to boost. The worse scenario is to be in position and a cloud obscure the sun and all is lost.
The parks and town were expecting extremely high volume of visitors on that day. The day of the eclipse I drove down from Yellowstone 4 am in the morning to be in position at Grand Teton National Park by 6:30 am. I was lucky to get into the the Glacier View Lookout Point. Grand Teton Mountain is right there to the West. The eclipse starts around 10:15 am. We have the telecom lens ready to capture the entire sequence. Another wide angle lens to take time lapse photos. Totality hit 11:36 am and lasted 2 min 19 secs on the center of the Path. I chose to be about a couple of miles north of that to avoid the huge traffic in the designated area on Gros Venture Road. That lost about 3 secs of the totality. The Eclipse will be finished by 1 pm.
When the time reached 10:15 am, the moon started to cover the sun and took a bite out of it. And a light shadow gradually moved over us. The light around us gradually dimmed until it approached totality. Up to this point the eclipse is about the same as what I saw last time in Bryce Canyon. Last time during totality of the Annular Eclipse a ring of fire remains and the sun is still too bright. Some light still reached us from the rims of the sun. You can find some pictures of that in the Skywatching section of the photo site. But this time totality is different.
And then the magic moment came. It became very dark. The horizon shows a red glow like the twilight. Temperature dropped. It was hot when the sun was shining high but suddenly in the shadow it was cold like the pre-dawn hours. I judge about 10 to 20 degree F drop in that 2 minute 15 sec totality. People are wo-hooing around us. We hurry to remove the solar filters from the camera. I tried to take video and pictures of people. I wished I had more arms. I looked up at the sun and see with naked eye the dark sun with the corona around it. I looked through the camera viewfinder and saw the sun flares in red and purple and orange and the white corona radiates out from the rim. They are flashing and spitting fire into space. I looked up and saw the dark sun and a star next to it which I think is Venus. The mountains are all dark. The horizon are still alight in a red glow. The two minutes 15 sec lasted way too short to look around, look up, take pictures, and take video all at the same time. Then suddenly it is over, I saw the flash of light as the sun emerges from behind the moon. That's the Diamond Ring Effect see the picture here. It lasted may be a sec at most. Then the light returned quickly. I could feel the heat came back like a heater getting turned on.
The rest of the eclipse mirrorred the first half. Some people rushed to leave the site. We of course stayed until the end. By that time, about half the people were gone from our pullout point. I can see a long line of cars in the far away Grow Venture Road waiting to get back to the highway. We left around 1:30 pm and drove all the way back to Salt Lake City Airport. The first 3 hours are through heavy traffic on one lane road just to get out of the Eclipse area.
We saw a car on the highway with dusty windows and these words fingered on the rear glass. "Totality or Bust", "It was so good! :-)" . That just about sums it all up. It was incredible. Truly an unforgettable experience.