Yesterday I took my wife and daughter up to the closest good mall, Destiny Mall in Syracuse (the biggest mall in New York State), about an hour and a half from here, for lunch and because my daughter had some shopping to do. We wouldn’t have ordinarily gone on a Monday, but it turns out that the totality zone of the solar eclipse covered the northern parts of New York State but not here in what is called the Southern Tier. I’ve never seen a total solar eclipse. I was of course aware that a giant mall parking lot would be an excellent place to view an eclipse from, and of course I was far from alone in thinking that, not that the mall was unusually crowded, but there were a whole lot of people outside with chairs.

Yesterday was cloudy in Syracuse. We knew it would be, but at least we’d see the world get dark, even though totality where we were was for a minute and a half. We had the glasses. I figured the state welcome centers would probably be out of them – and I was told they were – but I called up the local observatory and they had them for five bucks a pop. As it stands, they were useless yesterday, but that’s OK.

As totality got close and the automatic street lights in the parking lot went on, a couple of times we could see glimpses of a solar crescent. It was too dim to show up through the very dark glasses at all, but I could glance at it for part of a second. We knew exactly when totality would hit because that was easy to look up on the internet.

Totality hit. I put on a jacket as it got cooler. That I was told would happen. I was also told that if we had a clear sky we could see stars. Given what I saw, that surprises me a bit. The sky near the sun was dark but the sky at the horizon was not. It wasn’t bright but it was like a little after sunset. It’s possible that had to do with the fact that we were at the edge of totality. Perhaps in the middle, where totality lasted for four minutes instead of a minute and a half, the whole sky was dark. I don’t know.

And then we got lucky. We got a few quick gaps in the clouds, probably not all cloud layers but enough to see the corona, like the picture at the top of the page, but with clouds all around. It came and went a few times as clouds passed.

I’ve never seen that before and I doubt I’ll ever see it again. When the next total solar eclipse comes, and I don’t know where it will be total, I’ll be about 90. I’m glad I saw it once. We got dinner after a long wait at Cheescake Factory and drove home in a fair amount of traffic as people who had driven up from south (like we did but often from farther, like the couple I spoke to in the next car over who came up from Doylestown, PA) went home.

It wasn’t earth-shattering. It was just cool. I don’t have a bucket list so it’s not like I was checking something off. Now I just have a better idea of what a total solar eclipse is like.

Oh, it was Jonah’s birthday. He would have been thirty. My wife had a rough day about that. I didn’t. His memory doesn’t make me sad like it does her.

On my way home I thought:

Day-O, Day-O
Daylight come but moon take it away

Eclipso Music