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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

In the moon’s shadow

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

Me, staring straight into the sun, with a weird 360-degree twilight behind me.

We drove all the way to Menan, Idaho to witness the total solar eclipse on Monday, and it was spectacular. If you’re ever given the opportunity to see one—and if you’re in North America, you get another chance in 2024—you should take it. A total solar eclipse is not comparable to any other solar eclipse, whether you get 15 percent coverage or 95 percent coverage. Accept no substitutes.

For the first hour or so, the sun was gradually eaten away by the moon, and in the last 15 minutes of the run-up to totality, the sunlight was clearly attenuated—everything looked more pale and gray, as if someone had turned the brightness setting down on reality. But in the last moments, things got weird. Darkness approached from the west. The sun went out entirely, and we were surrounded by a 360-degree twilight sunset. Surrounding the eclipsed sun was the beautiful solar corona, soft and wispy, looking like nothing else I’ve ever seen in the sky.

Everybody standing on the ridge of the volcanic butte was crying and shouting and exclaiming. It was a remarkable experience. And two minutes later, it was over. It took us two days of driving to get home. But those two minutes? Totally worth it. Bring on 2024.

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