Tuesday, April 9, 2024

That Day When a Dragon Ate the Sun

So. There was this event yesterday that might have been on the news...

Okay, it wasn't exactly like this, but you
get the idea. From the RuneQuest Starter Set
Book 2: Glorantha. Artwork is by Hazem Ameen,
found here on Artstation.

Given that Cincinnati is right on the edge of totality --if I drove about 15 minutes to the west I'd be in totality-- I decided to take the day off and enjoy the view.

I'd planned this well enough in advance that I'd bought a couple of packs of eclipse glasses and had distributed them to family and friends. We still had enough left over for my wife and myself, and I figured I'd use a third pair to try to get a photo via my smartphone. 

Wherever we ended up going to watch the eclipse, that is.

I wasn't exactly worried about where we'd end up, but my wife wanted things to go well, and so we ended up driving 50 miles north to Dayton. We left at 11:15 AM, with Totality set to reach the Dayton area at 3:09 PM. 

Traffic was expected to be heavy with people heading west on I-74 into Indiana and north on I-75 toward Dayton, and for midday I-75 certainly felt like Rush Hour traffic on the trek north.

Things began to clear out once we reached the Dayton city limits, and we got off the highway right by the University of Dayton*, thinking that maybe the UD Arena's parking lot might be available for eclipse watching.

It wasn't.

So, we drove into downtown Dayton and had lunch at a favorite haunt of ours from when we attended 33+ years ago, The Spaghetti Warehouse. For those interested in whether I could find something that fit my diet requirements, yes I could. (I had a salad.)

A little after 1:00 PM, we set out to try to find a place to watch the eclipse.

We knew some spots, such as the National Museum of the US Air Force, were not a good idea. That place was expected to be a nuthouse. We also knew that the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum, about 45 minutes north of Dayton in Neil's birthplace of Wapakoneta, was supposed to be swamped. Other places on our radar, such as local parks and even Woodlawn Cemetery (immediately next to UD, where the Wright Brothers are buried) were holding watch parties and you had to pay some decent amount of money just to attend. There's a Native American archaeological site nearby, SunWatch Village, but their watch party required payment of $500**.

Again, not happening.

We quickly realized that most of the city and surrounding area had cancelled classes and businesses, so a lot of people were simply home for the day. So... we decided to check out the area around the Dayton Art Institute (the Dayton art museum) to see if there was a crowd there.

No, not our car. It's not visible.

There wasn't.

We parked on the street and walked over to the Masonic Hall next to the DAI, found a cherry tree to sit under, and pulled out some books to relax with while the eclipse began.

As the eclipse came closer, the telltale crescent shape began appearing on the shade through the tree...

The eclipse glasses I'd bought did the trick, so we could take a look as the Moon slowly ate the Sun. The only bad part was that the filter on the glasses did their job too well, and I couldn't get a photo from my smartphone because the phone couldn't resolve to a sharp image. I decided I wasn't going to bother and left the phone alone.

Daylight slowly dissipated until the moment of totality, then everything dipped immediately into twilight:

You'd think this was after 8:00 PM here on
the edge of downtown Dayton.
Yes, this was during Totality.

The eclipse glasses even protected against the Sun's corona, so I had to take them off to steal a glance of the eclipse itself. Just a second or two, but it was quite a sight. I could even see Venus nearby, but since I wasn't in a dark sky area I couldn't see any other stars.

I can see why earlier civilizations thought a total solar eclipse was a sign from the gods --or a portent of disaster, your choice-- because it's one of those things that your brain has trouble processing while it's happening. When you've seen the sun in one state all your life and then this occurs it gives you pause, even though you knew intellectually that this was expected.

Can confirm it looks like this. From
a Facebook post by the Cincinnati and
Hamilton County Public Library.

Although it felt that time stood still, it was over all too fast. Just like someone flicked switch, the daylight returned.

The sky was still a brilliant and rich blue.

Most everybody else who came to watch the eclipse left soon thereafter, but we hung around for an hour to let the traffic on the highway clear out a bit. 

Then what did we do?

We went to a bookstore, of course.

I sent this pic to my Questing Buddy,
who has read both of these books, as 
I was amused by the small print on the poster.

*Yes, our alma mater. Class of 1991, thankyouverymuch.

**And yes, it was fully booked.

EtA: Corrected some grammar.


  1. I only vaguely recall witnessing a partial eclipse in Vienna many years ago. What stuck with me from that experience was the weirdness of experiencing twilight in the middle of the day, if only briefly, and I could definitely also see how and why that must've freaked our ancestors out.

    1. I've seen several partial eclipses, but the dramatic drop in light from even a sliver of sun available to absolutely nothing is pretty amazing, and something I'd never experienced. My sister-in-law's husband told me that there's a huge difference between a partial and total eclipse, as he saw the one in 2017, and I was skeptical up until that moment of totality.