On Monday, people across the country watched an eclipse nearly 40 years in the making. Thousands of travelers took to the road to find the best spot to watch the totality, where the moon entirely cover the sun. The center line spread across 14 states, from Oregon to South Carolina. Countless pairs of eclipse glasses were bought and sold.
Despite the amazing science behind predicting the event, the outstanding photographs from around the country and the incredible amount of news coverage about the solar phenomenon, something else stood out even more. In a time of social turbulence, people came together to watch the eclipse.
In the days and weeks leading up to the eclipse, people made plans to witness the spectacle. Whether they were purchasing glasses for themselves and friends or scheduling a trip to Wyoming, it revolved around the connections in their lives. Even in my own life, the pack of glasses I purchased helped me to visit family and friends I hadn’t been in touch with in months. I caught up with my old friends, learning about their lives since we went our separate ways. The eclipse also connected me with new friends. My new connections sent me snaps of their eclipse experience.
Friends and families packed up cars and took road trips, spending quality time together on an adventure. Driving for a day, maybe two, spending a night in a motel in a small town they had never been before and spending the day together: these are memories the families will treasure for years. Even with the incredible amount of traffic, people shared these experiences with each other on social media.
On the day of the eclipse, something magical happened. Even in Colorado, where the eclipse only reached 92-94 percent coverage, entire office buildings came down to the street to see the event together. Parking lots overflowed as parks and hiking trails filled with families. Restaurants with outdoor seating were full, and people stopped in parking lots to watch. People who had just met passed eclipse glasses around, sharing with strangers so they too could see beauty. I watched as one woman walking down the street borrowed a pair of glasses for just a moment from a young man so she could get a fleeting glimpse on her way back to work.
In the time after the eclipse, news feeds were filled with something other than the political and social commentary that frequents the media cycle. Live streams of the coverage at every major location the eclipse passed in totality popped up. People shared photos of themselves watching the eclipse; incredible pictures highlighting the beauty of the scene.
What was truly amazing about the eclipse, is that despite peoples’ differences — things that push us apart on an average day, things that fill the news with ugly images of hate — everyone set them aside, if even just for a moment. We were all in awe of the magnificent scene happening in the sky above us, reminded that we are small in compared to our universe and that there is so much beauty and goodness left in the world and in people.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Arts Editor Stephanie Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org.