NEBRASKA - Solar totality was surreal, like walking into another world, says Quinan astronomer Tim Doucette.
disk“It basically touched on all your senses. It was like a dream almost,” he said.
Although he only has 10 per cent of his vision because of being born with cataracts, he can perceive ultraviolet light and often sees things that the average person can’t.
The eclipse location provided two minutes and 33 seconds of solar totality. During a total eclipse of the sun, the moon covers the entire disk of the sun.
“Once totality hits and the disk of the sun is completely blocked by the moon, it is safe to take your glasses off,” said Doucette.
“I took my glasses off very briefly, just to see the colours. Around the horizon, it’s basically a sunset, all the way around.
“The upper part of the sky was very pinkish-purple, I’m assuming mostly because of the ultra-violet. It was spectacular, a jaw-dropping experience.”
The eclipse-watching group was staying at the KOA campground and as the time drew near there was concern that approaching cloud cover would spoil the show.
“One of the members said, ‘Totality’s not for another 45 minutes. The eclipse has already started; we’ve taken our pictures. I can drive 20 miles in 40 minutes,’” said Doucette.
The astronomer convoy hit the road and ended up in a farmer’s field on a dirt road through a cornfield. The skies were perfectly clear: blue with a little bit of cloud on the horizon.
One of the observers set up a camera to record the reactions of everyone.
“There was a lot of oohing and aahing,” said Doucette. It was a first eclipse for many in the group.
He says he knows now why some people say, “If there’s one thing you do in your life, you owe it to yourself to experience a total solar eclipse.”
“I’m hooked. It won’t be my last,” he said.
He says that around the world there’s basically an eclipse every year-and-a-half. “The next one is in South America. I won’t be running to that but there’s another one coming up for us in 2024. That will be in New Brunswick… unfortunately it’s in April and it will be a little chilly, but it doesn’t matter,” he said.
Doucette is the owner-operator of Deep Sky Eye Observatory in Quinan. His astro-tourism business enhances the region’s UNESCO Starlight certification with astronomical experiences on site.
He teaches astronomy basics, the use of telescopes, the importance of protecting the night sky and how to use a star finder. He also introduces visitors to other celestial wonders.