Eclipse 2017: The Inquisitr Visits Northeast Georgia To View Momentous Event

In case you missed it, the sun and the moon put on quite a show for us earthlings on Monday. That’s only if you found yourself in the right place. These fortunate celestial viewers were able to view the first total solar eclipse that occurred in the United States since 1979. However, that one was only visible to certain parts of the Northwest. The only other total eclipse in recent history occurred in Hawaii during 1991.

More importantly, if you were in the sparse path of the eclipse totality on Monday, you got to see a great deal more than most.

The Inquisitr Visits North Georgia to See the Eclipse

There were several prime spots touted as being in the path of the total eclipse. One of the top six places to see the 2017 solar eclipse was in the city of Toccoa, Georgia. Toccoa is also close to the famed Tallulah Gorge, and the city and the gorge are nestled within the scenic North Georgia Mountains. Since Toccoa happened to be one of the few areas in the eclipse path, this Inquisitr contributor chose to make the journey to see the once-in-a-lifetime event. The area seemed a sure bet not to disappoint.

Several areas surrounding Toccoa featured a partial solar eclipse. Take Atlanta, for example. The city lies about 90 miles south of Toccoa. In contrast to Toccoa’s 100 percent occurrence of the moon obscuring the sun, some areas of Atlanta only saw 97.1 percent.

When this Inquisitr contributor started the journey to Toccoa late Monday, she found herself leaving Gainesville, Georgia – another city right on the outer fringes of eclipse totality. Gainesville enjoyed a 99.5 percent obscuration. Gainesville was also over 40 miles away from Toccoa.

Heavy Traffic Almost Derailed the Experience

That morning, the act of traveling I-985 North about an hour and 20 minutes before the eclipse made its debut in a neighboring city made one wish they had planned better, especially when a talk show radio host announced that the interstate was backed up 20 miles.

The announcer went on to ask aloud what kind of people would make such a late journey to see such a congested and popular venue. What kind of person, indeed, since there was a high probability that Toccoa or any of its surrounding areas couldn’t be reached in time if the traffic stayed as backed up as it was during most of the drive.

It quickly became apparent how inadequate I-985 was for travel to the swarm of hopeful eclipse-gazers heading to the North Georgia area. The interstate is a two-lane road, and it became painfully obvious that just one serious fender bender could derail the whole experience. The whole ordeal seemed reminiscent of a hurricane evacuation – too many cars filtering through the bottleneck of small town roads.

About an hour and 10 minutes later, it became apparent that arriving in Toccoa from Gainesville was not going to be happening until after the eclipse was finished – maybe even after that. Luckily, the exit to the city of Cornelia loomed up ahead. Could this small town with a population of a little over 4,000 be in the path of totality?

Taking the exit and driving through town sent this reporter cruising by an Ethicon plant with a Dairy Queen nearby. Across the street, small groups were beginning to converge in vacant lots across the street. If this was the place, the event might be experienced with a few small groups instead of huge crowds.

A Small City Offers Prime Viewing for Eclipse 2017

Cornelia, it turned out, was right in the path of totality, and the eclipse started after 1:00. People began converging and setting up their lawn chairs in the vacant lot around that time.

Two people look at eclipse 2017 with eclipse glasses

Many of the people indicated that they were locals when asked. Others said that they were from Atlanta and from neighboring cities that were out of the “sweet zone” of eclipse totality. Additionally, some of the onlookers mentioned that they had headed to Tallulah Gorge late and had stopped in Cornelia because they knew they wouldn’t make it in time – a familiar dilemma.

Two girls and their dog shown at Eclipse 2017 event

Visitors and locals brought their eclipse glasses and DIY viewing technology to capture glimpses of the show. Amateur photographers camped out and anticipated a chance to capture images that illustrated the slow trek of the moon’s shadow across the sun.

Amateur Photographer Documents a Piece of History

Tracy Crider, an amateur photographer with a camera and filter, shot some breathtaking photos of the total eclipse. She said that her husband had given her a camera recently and that she was “putting it to really good use that day.”

Photographer Tracy Crider takes photos of Eclipse 2017

Some naysayers have indicated that eclipse photos should be left up to professionals with hi-tech equipment, but Tracy let us know the next day that her photos were stunning enough to be featured in the Habersham County e-edition of The Northeast Georgian in the featured story, “A Bright Spot in History.”

Tracy caught multiple pictures of Eclipse 2017. From the moon slicing out its shadow from the right,

Image of 2017 Eclipse Starting

…to the moment it almost blotted out the sun.

Image of Near Totality of Eclipse 2017

Anytime before the moon completely eclipses the sun, special eye protection is needed to avoid damage to your eyes from the intense ultraviolet light the sun emits.

In related news, some stories were circulating around that pets may need to wear protective eyewear during the eclipse. That may just have been hype or a marketing ploy because most animals have better instincts than to stare directly at the sun. The pooches at the venue seemed to take in Eclipse 2017 calmly, with no peeking at the sun when their owners weren’t looking.

Eclipse 2017 viewer and dog

The Sun and Moon Strut Their Stuff

The moment everyone was waiting for happened next. People shared safety glasses with those that didn’t bring any.

The temperature had slowly been dropping as the eclipse approached totality. It gradually got darker and someone said, “Listen, it’s got so still.” It eventually got so dark that the street lights came on.

Eclipse 2017 False Twilight

Someone said, “You can remove your glasses now!” With that, everyone did.

The sight that awaited us at that time was what many of us were waiting for, and what others missed that weren’t in the path of eclipse totality. In a nutshell, the “Ring of Fire” was now visible, in all its glory. The ring occurs when the bright ring of the sun’s rays flare around the moon. The black shadow with bright, shimmering rays around it was a mesmerizing sight.

Eclipse 2017 Ring of Fire

Also interesting, was the “twilight effect” the totality caused. The effect made it seem as if a sunset occurred in the East and the West simultaneously, and you could make out one of the planets beside the ring of fire.

Someone later yelled, “There’s the diamond ring!” The so-called diamond ring effect was going on at that moment. The diamond ring’s appearance also signifies when you need to put your glasses on during the reappearance of the sun’s rays. The diamond effect occurs when the moon’s shadow begins to move away from the sun. The sun’s rays begin to peak out of the lower right side of the shadow, causing the effect.

Eclipse 2017 Diamond Ring Effect

The moon blotted out the entire sun for an amazing two minutes or so during Eclipse 2017. It ended too soon, but while the total show was going on, people came together and shared a unique and human experience. There was a moment of clarity when politics and other issues we encounter in our busy and hectic lives didn’t distract us.

[Featured Image by Holly Chavez]