Dear Ones, Happy Spring!

I was blessed to take a short trip to Dallas, Texas hoping to witness the total solar eclipse on 8 April 2024. The journey was planned not long after viewing the 2017 eclipse from Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park which rocked my world as one of the highest experiences of my life.

Solar Eclipse

An hour before the eclipse sequence begins, I am watching the sky from the deserted hotel patio. It has been overcast for hours after being mostly clear at dawn. It’s getting brighter yet there are still no shadows cast on the ground. Ten minutes before first partial eclipse phase begins, the Sun is appearing and disappearing back and forth as the clouds begin thinning out and blowing through on strong winds aloft.

The camera, with zoom lens locked at 500mm, is mounted on a sturdy tripod, solar filter in place. I take test shots and use a sunspot to confirm focus. Now the eclipse begins as clouds continue moving through. There are flashes of Sun, then it’s gone again. A big patch of blue sky arrives, then it’s gone, too. Forty-five minutes to totality and the sacred dance between Moon, Sun, and Cloud continues. Such mystery. Such anticipation. Will the spectacle of totality be seen?

Six minutes to totality. Clouds are still streaming, opening, closing, now closed. Come on, blue sky! The landscape is dimming! It is happening!

During four minutes of totality, I view perhaps a minute of it over several glimpses between clouds. The goose bump factor is high – the thrill of totality never gets old. The rush is one of ebullience, of pure glee! It’s just you and the eclipse – timeless intimacy with Moon and Sun – all else fades away.

It is as if the sudden, direct communion with Sun and Moon reveals a part of our being that we have forgotten about, a cosmic part of us that knows we belong here in this vast and mysterious Universe. The experience reminds us that it means something to be in this world, simply by virtue of being part of it, with heavenly bodies above and Earth below and all who we share it with. Witnessing a total solar eclipse is nothing less than a cosmic experience.

Solar Eclipse

A dramatic part of the central act is rushes of birds flying away as totality hits and glowing planets leap into view in the same moment. So dramatic! Then a cascade of screeching tires broadcasts from the freeway on the other side of the hotel. Somebody must have slowed or stopped to gawk. Thankfully no crashing sounds follow. The thinnest layer of clouds dampens down the corona’s brightness enough to reveal a handful of pinkish solar prominences. Then the Sun starts to emerge and the famed brilliant diamond ring flashes spectacularly!

At the end of the three plus hour sequence, feelings of gratitude and relief wash through me as the show comes to a quiet close. There was no guarantee the weather would cooperate to present such splendor. I slowly pack up my gear and retreat into the cooling shade.

With Blessings to All,

James K. Papp Eclipse Photos (4 different images) are now available to purchase on prints, greeting cards, journals, mugs, & pillows. You can browse them using this link to his page on Fine Art America.