Eclipse Day 2017 and Hermione Granger

One of my favorite fictional characters—one of the characters I most strongly identify with—is Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. She’s depicted as extremely bookish, and at one point we’re told she’s nervous about flying because it’s “something you couldn’t learn by heart out of a book.”

Yup, that sounds like me. I’ve spent an enormous amount of time studying science, but almost everything I know comes out of books rather than from hands on experience.

And so as the Great American Eclipse of 2017 approached, I felt increasingly nervous, just like Hermione going out for her first flying lesson. I’d read a lot about the eclipse, done pretty thorough research about the kinds of glasses I’d need to buy, and yet… I still felt horribly unprepared.

To make matters worse, the eclipse glasses I’d ordered online seem to have gotten lost in the mail. On the day of the eclipse, they still hadn’t arrived. I had a backup plan, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to work. I’d read online that you can use a pair of binoculars to project an image of the Sun onto a piece of paper. Again, I’d read about this, but I’d never tried to do it, and I wasn’t 100% convinced this was going to work for me. Some of the instructions I’d read sounded kind of complicated.

And yet to me extraordinary delight, it worked! My hands were a bit shaky, but I was able to project the Sun onto a page of my sketchbook and watch as the Moon slowly moved across the image.

My hastily improvised eclipse observatory.

Watching the eclipse turned out to be a highly emotional experience for me. I’ve been going through some things in my personal life, and this was a powerful reminder that no matter what happens, the universe keeps turning. Also, I realized at one point that the binoculars I was using originally belonged to my Dad, so in a sense it was like I got to share the experience with him.

And lastly, for a Hermione Granger-type person like me, this was one of those rare moments when something I read about became real to me. Maybe it wasn’t as exhilarating as learning to fly on a broomstick, but still… Eclipse Day 2017 was a magical experience for me.

11 Responses to Eclipse Day 2017 and Hermione Granger

  1. Scott Levine says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the Eclipse. Sounds like you made the most of it despite the hiccups.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      I’m actually kind of glad things worked out the way they did. It would have been nice if my glasses had arrived on time, but if they had I wouldn’t have tried the binocular projection thing. I’m glad I had that experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. debscarey says:

    I envy you the experience (I’m in the UK). The way you’ve connected your emotional reaction to the Eclipse with personal stuff resonates strongly. But maybe personal stuff causes an emotional platform changing how we experience life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      I was surprised by how many different emotions the eclipse stirred up inside me. I was not prepared for that.

      I think I agree with what you’re saying. My background and personal history colored the experience for me. Nothing wrong with that, but it is important to recognize it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We were only able to have a partial eclipse here in Southern California, like yours. I was not prepared with the special glasses and we watched on NASA live streaming on You Tube. I had heard about using a kitchen colander and they mentioned it again on the broadcast. So I took a large colander and went in my backyard and saw the partial eclipse shadow projected on my patio. A whole bunch of tiny eclipses. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was able to watch it through glasses, although we only got a partial here. Based on your photo, you saw pretty much the same thing the glasses showed. But you probably got a better feeling of satisfaction from setting up the binoculars. (One of my coworkers tried to do something with a pinhole in one piece of cardboard to project it on another piece of cardboard, but he couldn’t get it to work. So kudos to you for succeeding!)

    Like

  5. Hope ‘things’ improve.
    We had less than 30% here in eastern Canada, but in 2024 we can expect full totality, and I’m excited for that. We spent the eclipse at a favorite beach and I peeked a few times through my spouse’s welding helmet. The funky shade to the light of the day was more interesting for me, It felt magical and strange and full of possibility.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      That’s sort of how I felt: something about a crescent sun is just weird and magical. I’m really looking forward to 2024. I don’t live too far from the path of totality, so it should be much easier for me to go see it.

      Liked by 1 person

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