Total eclipse observers say celestial event was 'indescribable'

Total eclipse observers say celestial event was 'indescribable'

HOPKINSVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Kentucky's Darkest Day has come and gone. Now what?

While many look ahead to the next eclipse others are reflecting on their eclipse experience.

On the Cansler Farm just outside Hopkinsville at the point of greatest eclipse, as totality neared oohs and ahhs turned to reverence.  All human eyes were focused on the sky, absorbing every ounce of what Mother Nature had to offer.

"Across the country, everyone's gonna have this really indescribable, otherworldly experience for a few minutes," Mainer, Charlie Wood, said. "And I think to share that across the nation is a really powerful idea."

Animals took the spectacle in stride. Crickets chirped, cows lay down and birds went to roost. Once the sun began to shine once again from behind the moon, so did the smiles on observers' faces.

For kids, it was all about seeing something new and learning more about the world they live in. Many adults that spoke to WAVE 3 News said the new experience showed them one more thing the world had to offer.

"Nothing could prepare me for what I felt in that two minutes and 40 seconds in such a positive way." Hopkinsville Mayor Carter Hendricks said.

While many marveled, others were hard at work. Scientists from around the country and the world descended upon the path of totality with a very specific goal in mind.

Scientists from the University of Alabama Huntsville took measurements of the turbulence and wind almost a mile into the atmosphere. They also measured humidity, temperature and wind at the surface.

"Well, we want to look at the response of the boundary layer turbulence and winds to the shading of the eclipse. We've been doing a lot of research on the natural transition from afternoon to evening. That's a lot slower and we documented physical processes that go on with that. This is a transition that happens four times faster and it's predictable. We have a network setup to monitor what's going on in the boundary layer over a large region around here." University of Alabama at Huntsville Professor Kevin Knupp said. 

Their goal was not just to learn about the eclipse's effect on our planet today, but enhance future weather forecasting for the future.

A citizen science project composed of 60 groups from around the country, hoped to record the entire eclipse as it traversed the US in order to create a 90-minute film. The unity that the undertaking demonstrated was a marvel in itself to some.

"It's amazing that now finally in the age of the smartphone this is the first eclipse that we've been able to really have the technology to record and get all this data," Wood said.

The experience of watching a total solar eclipse may have only lasted for two minutes and 40 seconds at the Cansler Farm but it had a long-lasting impact on others.

"I made the comment of how insignificant, in a positive way, this experience makes you feel. That your worries, that your issues, that your concerns, all of those things just move to the side and you realize you're a part of one humanity, one creator, and one experience at this one moment in time and how unifying that felt. And I can't even explain the energy that made me feel that way. Not because of anything someone said, it was just this energy in the air that I think it was palatable.   I believe it was one of those experiences that will change people for a lifetime." Hendricks said.

The impact is not just spiritual, it’s also tangible. Hopkinsville Mayor Carter Hendricks explained that 30 million dollars was expected to pour into Christian County because of the hundreds of thousands flocking to the area. Even more money flowed into Kentucky as a whole.

The Kentucky hospitality almost eclipsed the eclipse itself. Visitors from 19 countries and 46 states consistently commented on the kindness and care shown by residents, first responders and government officials.

The opportunity to witness an eclipse has not yet left WAVE Country. Indiana will soon have the chance to experience a total solar eclipse April 8, 2024 so get those eclipse glasses ready.

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