Hopkinsville, KY: Total Solar Eclipse in Eclipseville

Yesterday I went down to Eclipseville 2017 - aka Hopkinsville, KY - to witness totality for the Great American Solar Eclipse. 

It was an incredible experience that words, photos, and videos don't really do justice to.

I left our house in Bloomington about 3:30am (eastern time) to drive down to the parking area I had reserved from Novadell Steakhouse. They officially opened the property at 7am central time, and I was one of the first people there (I made really good time and mostly just hit traffic from Evansville on down, but it wasn't too bad at all) so I got a fantastic spot on a little hill close to the bathrooms.

Here was my set-up for the day -- shade, a cooler full of water and lunch, things to do to pass the time from 7am until 1pm (painting, sudoku, and a book), and three cameras, naturally.

We all had lots of space to spread out. Most people brought tents or canopies and I actually had two different couples/families be concerned that I only had an umbrella and offer for me to share their tent. It was very nice of them (have to love being in the midwest). It was hot with or without shade (it was pushing 100 by 10:30am) but my umbrella and large store of water served me well. The restaurant (which is partly that building to the right in the photo below) even had people on golf carts running around as transportation and ice delivery, which was really nice. (They also had lots of food and drinks for sale, and some people definitely starting drinking beer about 8:30am. Ha!)

After spending the morning painting, playing sudoku, and chatting with various people around me, and eating lunch way too early for central time, we finally started seeing the eclipse. The partial eclipse started for us about 11:58am central time. It was so, so cool. I spent the next hour or so trying to figure out how to take photos since my solar filter for the camera didn't arrive in time (despite ordering by a date that should have gotten me the filter with no problems, it arrived last night around 8pm. Useful. Well, now I have it for the future, anyway.) 

I made a makeshift pinhole projector with a piece of paper I had and the top of the cooler. You can see the crescent shape in the shadow.

I also tried taking photos through my eclipse glasses with my smartphone lens, which is the closest I got to having a solar filter. Some of them turned out close to what it really looked like, like the one below. Really through the glasses there was none of the glare; the sun was a very distinct crescent. 

The best phone shots turned out to be grabbing the reflection of the sun by pointing the phone camera at the sun and making the exposure go as dark as possible. Here we are very close to totality below.

As we got closer and closer to totality, the excitement in the viewing field rose. Kids stopped playing frisbee and people stopped playing their music. Everyone put on eclipse glasses and we all just watched the moon slip in front of the sun, turning day into twilight. You can listen to the reactions of everyone around me in this short video clip of the moment of totality:

I will never forget seeing the sun become a ring of light behind the moon. It was simply incredible and something you truly cannot understand the impact of if you haven't seen it in person (watching on TV is great but wow, it is not the same as physically watching it happen). I rather unexpectedly lost a few tears as it happened. 

For our 2 minutes and 40 seconds of totality, I took off my eclipse glasses (looking at the sun was unreal) and tried grabbing a few photos with my nicer camera. The first two photos below are the sun with a reflection of the thin ring of light. The reflection is a good idea of what I could see when looking at the sun with or without eclipse glasses on at this point.

These next two photos are what the sky looked like on the opposite side from the sun. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen.

Here is a short video clip looking around at totality:

And then, much much much too soon, it was over. Here is the sun coming back to us:

And here we are on the other side (notice the crescent is flipped; this is actually backwards from what we were seeing in the glasses).

Truly a once in a lifetime experience. I am so glad I decided to go to Hopkinsville (vs a few other locations I had thought of, like Carbondale), and that the weather was amazing (I will take hot over clouds any day) and the place I had booked to view it was so perfect.

After the eclipse was totally over (I watched the rest of the partial eclipse, too), I drove into downtown Hopkinsville to check it out. There were a few neat things to see and it was a cute town (it felt a lot bigger than its 31,000 population).

The sign pointing up is for the International Space Station (which crossed in front of the partial eclipse!).

I put a sticker on the map from Bloomington. I couldn't believe how many people there were from far away. I met people from Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Michigan. I also saw license plates from those states plus Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Ontario, Quebec, California, Texas, Nevada, Kansas, Alabama, Florida, Oregon, South Carolina, North Carolina, New Mexico, Georgia, West Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC (and of course Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky).

Although I hadn't had to deal with much traffic in the morning, I definitely did coming home. It took about 6 hours to get home (versus 3 hours to get down there) and the majority of the time it was bumper to bumper like this. Don't worry, all the photos of traffic are from when we were completely stopped.

Luckily we were treated to a really nice, extremely long sunset on the way home. (All things balance, though - it also started raining on the way home.) I also got a beautiful sunrise going down to Hopkinsville; it was just a great sky day in general!

F This is the stopped, backed up traffic coming up I-69 into Bloomington. We're about 4 miles south of where 69 turns into 37 here, and were completely stopped multiple times.

The crazy day trip (9 hours driving in one day combined with 8 hours sitting in the sun watching the sun) was one hundred percent worth it. I am so happy I went down for the eclipse and I wish we had them more often. I will definitely be watching the next one that happens in the US.
Hopkinsville, KY: Total Solar Eclipse in Eclipseville Hopkinsville, KY: Total Solar Eclipse in Eclipseville Reviewed by Maria on 12:22:00 PM Rating: 5


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