I had volunteered to represent Wild West University's Physics & Astronomy Department at Guernsey State Park for the eclipse, in exchange for a reserved camping space for the weekend before the eclipse. Originally, we were supposed to go along with the families of DS2's friends A and J, but one parent had to work and another parent had medical issues, so we ended up just bringing A and J with us. We were joined by 3 students plus one friend and two dogs.
The morning of the eclipse, we headed over to the official viewing area, near the Castle, at around 7:30am. People were already filling up the parking lots. We set up a booth with a tent (complete with University logo!) and some tables to hand out eclipse glasses and info on the University. We ended up with lots of extra glasses and hardly anyone took any handouts. As totality approached, we started trying to give away glasses by the handful. Eventually, we had to take down the tent because of the wind.
We had set up an 8" telescope with solar filter to allow people to view the Sun. Initially we struggled with the focus, but then it magically fixed itself and we could clearly see sunspots. J turned out to be particularly good at taking photos with his phone through the eyepiece. We didn't get as many visitors as I had hoped, because people had mostly stayed by their cars instead of trekking out the the Castle at the edge of the canyon.
As the partial eclipse began, we were able to clearly see the moon crossing the face of the sun through the telescope, and it wasn't long before you could see it through the eclipse glasses. People had lots of fun projecting crescent moons with makeshift pinhole cameras. The colander was particularly good for this.
About halfway to totality, the drop in temperature became noticeable. It had been a hot morning, but it began cooling off. The temperature kept dropping as totality approached. Interestingly, the drop in brightness wasn't really noticeable until the final minutes before totality. I chose to watch the sun (through the glasses) as totality approached, rather than the approaching shadow. I did hear the people around me saying "look at the shadow!" as the Sun disappeared.
No pictures of total eclipses could possibly do justice to the experience of actually seeing the completely eclipsed Sun with my own eyes. It was like a big black hole in the sky had appeared where the Sun should be, surrounded by the eerie halo of the corona. It just goes to show that the human eye has fantastic dynamic range. I could totally understand why people of ages past might have believed that the world was ending and felt the need to make blood sacrifices. I looked around, and I could see planets and a few stars. The horizon in all directions was red like sunset. It never got quite as dark as full night.
As we were watching, a jet plane crossed right over the face of the eclipsed sun. Probably chasing the eclipse themselves!
The 2 minutes and 19 seconds of totality was over too quickly. I saw the diamond ring effect as totality ended and quickly shooed M away from the telescope, from which we had removed the solar filter. She had been trying to take a photo through the telescope as opposed to looking through it, fortunately. As the sun came back, so did the light, which looked pretty weird at first. A flock of birds, probably ravens, suddenly
took off from the canyon toward the sky.
As the sun came back, so did the heat. We actually left before the end of the partial eclipse, because two of the students and I were headed to a conference in Boise the next day. It took us a good four hours just to get to Laramie. We mostly took back roads until we got to 287. The cars along the highway stretched as far as the eye could see in both directions, all heading south. Fortunately there was a police officer letting traffic in, or we would have been sitting there another hour waiting for a break in traffic! It took us an hour to move that last 18 miles.
[Note: the profile pic shown here is NOT the eclipsed sun, it is a coronagraphically imaged disk around a young star.]