Just over two weeks ago, I had the great fortune of spectating the great American total solar eclipse of 2017. My friends and I had planned a special trip to Victor, Idaho nearly a year ago in anticipation. We fully nerded out over every detail, from briefing ourselves on the full history of eclipses to having four types of eclipse glasses ready for optimal viewing. And yet, it all somehow exceeded expectations. I can safely say it was one of the most religious experiences of my life, as seen by this photo where I inadvertently entered prayer mode during those insane 2.5 minutes (that's me in the middle):
Anyway, the eclipse was an incredible experience for me and anyone who witnessed it. And thankfully, it made all that pre-eclipse hype worthwhile. Social media temporarily diverted away from political news for what felt like the blink of an eye, and the eclipse became a nationwide conversation. And now, since I can officially refer to myself as an eclipse enthusiast, I wanted to share a few things I learned from my experience:
1. Eclipses have always been a really big deal
Throughout most of known history, people were legitimately terrified of total solar eclipses. Before August 20, 2017, I’d probably think that was just plain silly. But that all changed once I actually felt warm sunlight instantly turn into a chill in the air, all while the sky simultaneously faded from blue to black, culminating in the sun transforming into an ominous black orb with white, divine-like light radiating on all sides. Since then, it’s pretty obvious to me why people with no exposure to modern science were completely freaked out.
Ancient cultures each revered eclipses in their own special way—but it was basically unanimous around the world that solar eclipses were some sort of evil omen. But as humanity modernized, eclipses evolved into a highly-coveted tool leveraged by ground-breaking scientists and astronomers to better understand the universe. Although most present-day eclipse viewers see the experience as a totez adorbz mega-like Instagram opportunity, great minds like Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Maria Mitchell chased eclipses to make new discoveries and pioneer modern science. Oh, and if you’re thinking “Who’s Maria Mitchell?” she’s the most bad-ass scientist in eclipse history and should be synonymous with eclipse chasing. Read about her here.
2. The 2017 Eclipse was a media WIN
Personally, my eclipse-related Instagrams were among my most-liked posts ever. We’re talking 67 likes—no biggie. But seriously, the eclipse was a media sensation. It sure helped that the eclipse was passing through some beautiful parts of the country primed for tourism at the height of Summer 2017. And while people flocked to Nashville, Oregon, and Yellowstone National Park, the event was discussed and frequently mentioned across the full gamut of news and media.
3. Brands won the modern-day eclipse experience
As the entire country readied their eyes toward the sun, it was pretty interesting to see how some companies leveraged this uniting opportunity. Eclipse glasses immediately became the hottest commodity in the small town of Victor, Idaho, with each store on Main Street adorning a handmade poster informing pedestrians whether they were in stock, or not. While many brands saw success by slapping their logos on these disposable glasses, some brands were up for a bigger challenge.
Take Red Bull, who perfectly used the eclipse to show off the incredible prowess of one of their sponsored extreme athletes, tight-rope walker Alex Mason. With over 225k likes, this is undoubtedly an insanely creative win for the energy drink company.
For those who haven’t seen the real deal and witnessed totality, lucky for you the next total solar eclipse in the US is on April 8, 2024, which means plenty of time for you to plan your trip. Seriously, plan that trip, it was one of the most unbelievable experiences of my life, and the hype, attention, anticipation and media-buzz were all completely warranted.