The Eclipse Over Lafayette, Louisiana
August 21, 2017 in LafayetteLouisiana promised the perfect eclipse viewing weather. with clear skies and no threat of the rain Lafayette had been getting every day for more than a week of late. At around 11:30, a few white clouds started to roll in, but the view was still good, provided one had a telescope or eclipse shades provided by the Lafayette Public Library. Viewing through eclipse shades is complete blackness, save for a small bright yellow dot that is the sun.
There was a large turnout at Parc Sans Souci, with a gentle picnic time atmosphere. The line for eclipse shades curved around the block, but moved quickly. People brought children, dogs, umbrellas and most importantly, cameras. The LafayetteScienceMuseum had telescopes set up for the event. A local sno-cone vendor took advantage of both the large gathering and the warm weather by hawking their wares. Free fans bearing educational information about the eclipse were handed out, a useful thing to have on a balmy Louisiana afternoon.
NASA's prediction was on the dot. The eclipse proper started at 11:53, with the curved shadow of the moon slowly approaching upon the dot. Drifting clouds periodically blocked the view, but soon blew away. Little by little, a semicircle shadow crept over the sun. The author of this piece figured out how to photograph a sun without looking. She figured that if she held her camera phone above her shaded eyes until the sun was blocked out, she could press the touchscreen until something went click. It took some trial and error. The author found she could get the best shot of the sun laying on her back with her left eye closed. (Stereoscopic vision has some drawbacks.)
By 12:30, the sun started to resemble a certain popular video game character who was popular in the 80's, a yellow spot with a piece missing. By 12:48, it started to look more like a crescent moon. By 1:05, only a sliver of the sun was visible. By 1:53, it was back to looking like that 80's video game character. Louisiana was in a path where only 70% of the sun would be hidden by the moon. It wasn't enough to darken the sky, though it did seem a darker blue than usual. It would be the people in the path of totality that would see the stars at noon. Still, it was a fascinating sight and an occasion for the community to get together, have fun and even learn something.