Partial Total Eclipse: What to Expect Short of Totality
Yesterday many Americans had a chance to see the total eclipse of the sun. But what should you expect to see with a partial total eclipse – when you’re just short of totality?
We discussed traveling a few hours to see the total eclipse, but Living in Wichita, we could observe 92.65% coverage of the sun just by stepping outside. With the forecast of traffic and the risk of cloudy conditions, we decided to stay close to home.
As time grew near for this historic event, my excitement grew. Reports of what to expect brought a childlike anticipation. While I knew I wouldn’t be able to take off the special glasses to see the stars and planets, I hoped I might see a glimmer through the protective lenses.
Even with this limitation, I looked forward to the sense of near total darkness creeping across the land, the sudden cooling of temperature, and a 360 degree view of colorful sunset style lights.
Imagine my disappointment when I experienced none of these things!
About 10 to 15 minutes before the maximum coverage it did become noticeably dimmer. Notice I said dimmer and not darker. The ambient light was more like the level at the earliest stages of dusk. That was it.
Yes, it was interesting to see the sun slowly disappear into an ever smaller crescent and then watch the process reverse.
Yes, it was an experience to understand how quickly the eclipse experience traveled across the country.
Yes, I learned new things about this astronomical experience and I was forced to look up and contemplate the cosmos.
What I learned the most, is the difference between totality and 93% is HUGE. The gap in experience was more than 10%. It was closer to 90%.
When the next total eclipse passes by in 2024, I will make certain to get within the path of totality in order to get the full experience, wonder, and awe.