Moon Over Moon, April 2024

The Great North American Solar Eclipse

Robert Stinson had a "Moon" sign made in the style of standard green traffic signs, shown here illuminated by my red camp flashlight at the moment of totality of the total solar eclipse.
Robert Stinson had a “Moon” sign made in the style of standard green traffic signs, shown here illuminated by my red camp flashlight at the moment of totality of the total solar eclipse.

My late wife Abby and I witnessed the August 2017 total eclipse in Park Hills, Missouri, and I was able to see the October 2023 annular eclipse in Newcomb, New Mexico.

For the April 8, 2024 total eclipse, Tulsa photographer Robert Stinson and I had long planned to be in Moon, Oklahoma, in the far southeast corner of the state, to see the show. My sister Nicole and her husband Tracey, who met with us for the eclipse in 2017, drove up from New Orleans.

You host drives in the pre-dawn hours from Byng, Oklahoma to Moon, Oklahoma.
You host drives in the pre-dawn hours from Byng, Oklahoma to Moon, Oklahoma.
A few weeks earlier, I marked up a state tourism map with the path of totality and our likely route choices.
A few weeks earlier, I marked up a state tourism map with the path of totality and our likely route choices.

The day started cold enough that I wore three layers, and didn’t really warm up until the clouds started to thin out around noon.

When we first arrived in Moon at about 9:25 a.m., we saw just one other car, which apparently had three people inside who had arrived even earlier, who were asleep.

Your host, still bundled for the slightly chilly morning, wears a pair of purple prop sunglasses.
Your host, still bundled for the slightly chilly morning, wears a pair of purple prop sunglasses.

By the time of the eclipse, it remained mostly cloudy with only a few gaps in the clouds, but it ended up working out.

My sister Nicole and her husband Tracey pose with the "Moon" sign.
My sister Nicole and her husband Tracey pose with the “Moon” sign.
From John Hoover: "Unbelievable. Yesterday I saw Richard R. Barron’s post about the eclipse and thought to myself, he’s the kind of cool guy that would show up to a place like Moon, OK, to take pictures during an eclipse. Also, my photos are usually so lame I figured, “Just call Richard and buy one of his photos.” So I finally land at Moon, and THERE HE IS. I drove from Tulsa, he drove from Ada, and now a couple old Ada Evening News alumni waiting for the eclipse. Pretty cool."
From John Hoover: “Unbelievable. Yesterday I saw Richard R. Barron’s post about the eclipse and thought to myself, he’s the kind of cool guy that would show up to a place like Moon, OK, to take pictures during an eclipse. Also, my photos are usually so lame I figured, “Just call Richard and buy one of his photos.” So I finally land at Moon, and THERE HE IS. I drove from Tulsa, he drove from Ada, and now a couple old Ada Evening News alumni waiting for the eclipse. Pretty cool.”

Nicole brought a case of black-framed eclipse glasses, which looked good when we posed in them, but which were essentially opaque, letting no sunlight through at all.

These great-looking eclipse glasses didn't pass any light at all through them, so they just ended up being props and souvenirs.
These great-looking eclipse glasses didn’t pass any light at all through them, so they just ended up being props and souvenirs.
Your host holds the "Moon" sign upside down in an effort to be lame. It did succeed in mildly annoying Robert.
Your host holds the “Moon” sign upside down in an effort to be lame. It did succeed in mildly annoying Robert.

As the morning turned to midday, more people arrived from all over the state. As many as 70 people were on hand by the time of the totality.

You host walks down one of the three intersecting unpaved roads in Moon, Oklahoma.
You host walks down one of the three intersecting unpaved roads in Moon, Oklahoma.
Moon people relax and use eclipse glasses to watch the crescent of the moon slowly obscure the sun.
Moon people relax and use eclipse glasses to watch the crescent of the moon slowly obscure the sun.
Robert asked me to hold this eclipse filter over his camera. The filter belonged to John Hoover, and made the crescent sun appear deep green.
Robert asked me to hold this eclipse filter over his camera. The filter belonged to John Hoover, and made the crescent sun appear deep green.
This is the deep green sun as it appeared through John's filter.
This is the deep green sun as it appeared through John’s filter.
Here is another effort to "shoot the moon."
Here is another effort to “shoot the moon.”
The site became like a block party, with Robert inviting everyone to pose with his "Moon" sign.
The site became like a block party, with Robert inviting everyone to pose with his “Moon” sign.

The cloudy skies somewhat redirected my photographic efforts, but when the totality hit, it was still a very amazing experience because of the sudden and stark onset of darkness.

All eyes and cameras were up as the moment of totality approached.
All eyes and cameras were up as the moment of totality approached.
Thick clouds caused the sun to dart in and out of view, shown here less than a minute from totality.
Thick clouds caused the sun to dart in and out of view, shown here less than a minute from totality.
The onset of darkness was unlike a sunset or even the approach of a thunderstorm, and we were quite amazed.
The onset of darkness was unlike a sunset or even the approach of a thunderstorm, and we were quite amazed.
Clouds... clouds... we waited.
Clouds… clouds… we waited.
This is me on the right, with the cargo light on the bed of the pickup illuminated to show how dark it was around us.
This is me on the right, with the cargo light on the bed of the pickup illuminated to show how dark it was around us.
Dimly lit by the red setting on my camp flashlight, we waited, waited...
Dimly lit by the red setting on my camp flashlight, we waited, waited…
Finally, for a short time, the clouds parted, letting us see the corona for about 40 seconds.
Finally, for a short time, the clouds parted, letting us see the corona for about 40 seconds.
One of our entourage uses his smart phone to record the moment, and the light from it and the corona emphasize how dark it got.
One of our entourage uses his smart phone to record the moment, and the light from it and the corona emphasize how dark it got.

The moment of totality seemed darker than it did in 2017, possibly because of the cloud cover. At the totality, we could not see the corona. The totality lasted about four minutes at our location, and through gaps in the clouds, we saw the corona for about 40 seconds.

We were all fairly quiet during the event, letting us hear that the world around us, especially birds, were quiet as well.

One of the friends we made was this woman, Athena, who said she was a park ranger. Her shirt is from Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado. Before praying, she performed a sage smudging ceremony.
One of the friends we made was this woman, Athena, who said she was a park ranger. Her shirt is from Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado. Before praying, she performed a sage smudging ceremony.
A man plays a musical quartz chakra bowl, which he told me was, "the chakra bowl for the third eye chakra, for balance and harmony.”
A man plays a musical quartz chakra bowl, which he told me was, “the chakra bowl for the third eye chakra, for balance and harmony.”
I asked Athena is she would be in a photo with me. Afterwards, as with everyone else, she insisted on a "heart-to-heart" hug. She was one of the funnest people we met.
I asked Athena is she would be in a photo with me. Afterwards, as with everyone else, she insisted on a “heart-to-heart” hug. She was one of the funnest people we met.

I ended up making most of my images with my estate-sale Lumix GH2 and the tiny 14mm f/2.5 “pancake” lens.

After the event, Robert marshaled everyone he could get to pose for a group photo. There are about 60 people in this photo, a few who didn't want to be in the photo, and myself, making this picture from the bed of my pickup, for a total of about 70 people.
After the event, Robert marshaled everyone he could get to pose for a group photo. There are about 60 people in this photo, a few who didn’t want to be in the photo, and myself, making this picture from the bed of my pickup, for a total of about 70 people.