I regret not seeing the total eclipse, how do I get over it?
April 2, 2024 4:58 PM   Subscribe

I live within 200 miles of the path of totality, but for various logistical reasons I won't be able to travel. My home is in the 94% band, but I know there is a big difference between 94% and 100%. I will probably never have another chance to see a total eclipse, and I'm feeling very sad that I'm missing this opportunity. How can I experience this without regret?
posted by epanalepsis to Grab Bag (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I hear you. If it rains I might drive as far into Nh/VT as I can, because I dont care about the disk, I want to be in the woods when all of nature goes “wat” for a minute or two. Odds are I’ll have too many obligations to do so. So…

I am saving up for Iceland or Greenland in 2026! Maybe you can too?
posted by drowsy at 5:12 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]

As another example, Spain will have two total eclipses in the next few years.
posted by kickingtheground at 5:17 PM on April 2 [6 favorites]

I saw something like 94% totality in 2017, and it was awesome. A huge spontaneous gathering of students and faculty out on our main quad to look at weird shadows between the leaves and then spot Mars and Venus as it got dark. We're more like 80% this time, and we're planning to do it again (less spontaneously this time), and it will be awesome, too. Enjoy what you can. It's absolutely worth it to just relax and be happy.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:50 PM on April 2 [11 favorites]

Watch it online with me and the rest of us who can't travel to the path of totality.

You can't do everything. Hell, I'll be pleased to see a partial sun blockout on the other side of the country.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:51 PM on April 2 [12 favorites]

It seems like every two years, there is "the only eclipse like this for the next 95 years." I can't explain it. And they are very boring in my experience. You can't look at the sun, you want to look at the sun, blah blah blah. Just hang out outside when a cloud passes in front of the sun and imagine that, just way more intense. (On preview, lol, maybe I should be more open minded. But feel free to join me in my curmudgeonly rejection of eclipse hype.)
posted by slidell at 5:54 PM on April 2 [27 favorites]

It's okay to just grieve about it. Really. Can you turn on some sad music or one of those "guaranteed to make you cry" YouTube compilations and then just let yourself feel it all? Sometimes, just letting go and relaxing into the sadness will help calm the feelings. Afterwards, maybe make a list of the many astounding things you have already seen or will still see, and ponder how most of your ancestors never left the area they were born. Or even think of the millions of people alive today who will never leave their village or town. For instance, have you seen or might you see

- the ocean
- mountains
- a shooting star (impossible to see for many human beings until we invented glasses and contact lenses)
- a desert
- a volcano
- a birth
- exotic animals
- a canyon
- a blizzard
- the forest, early in the morning when there's fog everywhere and the birds are going crazy
- a cave so deep that all light and noise from the outside world vanishes

These things can give you a similar sense of awe at the natural world. It might be worth making a nature bucket list and thinking of all the opportunities yet to come.
posted by toucan at 5:56 PM on April 2 [12 favorites]

I am traveling to see it (although it's also hanging out with my family) and it seems like cloud cover may mean it won't happen. But also, I never thought I'd see a total solar eclipse in my life so ... if it happens, awesome. If it doesn't, nothing lost.

I also had so much fun in 2017 during the eclipse. I think my area was at about 84% or something but it was still so cool! I got neat crescent moon photos of the light through the leaves and the experience of the summer suddenly being that much cooler and dimmer.

But yeah, it's OK to feel sad for things you may not experience. There are other things you can, though!
posted by edencosmic at 6:09 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]

Ok 94% is still amazing. I was in NYC in 2017 for the solar eclipse and it was "only" 74% and it was the coolest thing ever. We went up on a roof and had the goofy eclipse glasses and made pin hole shoe box things and we cheered and yelled and... it was awesome. And 94% will be 20% better than that! Trust me. 94% is DEFINITELY GOOD ENOUGH.

Unless its cloudy. And then no one will see anything. But if it's clear skies, you'll have just as much fun as those 100% people...and you wont be stuck in traffic coming home, like they will :)
posted by silverstatue at 6:27 PM on April 2 [8 favorites]

The only time I've really gotten something out of an eclipse was when I forgot one was happening and started wondering why the light was unaccountably dim outside.

Otherwise... partial, full, whatever. It's kind neat to see the sun occluded but unlike some seriously beautiful nature here on earth it's left me unmoved.

I'm not saying it will be the same for you but have hope: you may see 94% and think "OK, that's enough."
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:41 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]

I saw the most recent American one at around 95% totality and found the experience extremely eerie and unsettling, to the point where I'm reluctant to see 100%. People keep telling me it's so special and so worth it but I scheduled an overseas trip and will thus be missing this one and am not feeling too bad about it. I don't like eclipses.
posted by potrzebie at 6:54 PM on April 2 [10 favorites]

You probably will have another chance to see a total eclipse. Do you think you'll still be alive in 2045? If so, there are a lot of places in the US you could go to see this one. Or maybe you could travel to Canada or Montana to see this one in 2044.
posted by Redstart at 7:23 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]

Ya we were far outside totality a few years ago and yet it is still a fun and weird experience nonetheless. Like, why is it so dim at 11am? Why do the shadows feel so weird? I remember my animal instinct kicking in like this is just not right… so enjoy it for what it is. We don’t have to experience all things or risk being left out. I would have loved to travel for this one but I’ve got a lot going on right now and it’s not a priority. So my memory will be calling my friends and asking how it was.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:33 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]

I think if you are the kind of person to be disappointed that you aren't in the path of totality, you will still find your consolation prize pretty great. Compare your location in this eclipse simulator to another location within the path of totality.

If you have additional availability the weekend before the eclipse, consider checking out local (or not so local) eclipse related festivities.
posted by oceano at 9:06 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]

Ever been to rave? Seen fire fireworks? Or I dunno, an IMAX movie, or really any superhero movie? You’ve seen something more visually stunning probably. Perhaps less uncanny though. I stumbled upon something very weird in the um, lobby?, of the Tate Modern about 15 years ago and remember it, wasn’t even visiting, just passing through the area I guess you can pass through, very uncanny and interesting…but if I’d travelled to see it on purpose, would have been like, well, cool. The surprise really added to it. Just saying, there are lots of experiences to be had.

FOMO, how do you deal with that usually? People who’ve seen one will tell you it’s weird and cool and you should totally see one cause why not, but of those millions, only a weird couple thousand travel the world to see them again.

So yeah, you’re missing it, but so is everyone else. 95% is also a pretty uncanny experience, you’ll be fine.
posted by ixipkcams at 9:32 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]

If you moved somewhere 20 minutes away from a town that had an eclipse every two weeks would you make it a serious point to go as soon as you possibly could, or would it just be a "cool, should probably check it out sometime" kind of thing? Is it the actual experience you're feeling regret about missing, because eclipses are really important to you, or is it the idea of missing a limited chance?

Anyway, I've never seen a 94% eclipse and probably never will, so you'll be doing something I will probably never get to do. Enjoy it!
posted by trig at 12:49 AM on April 3

Here is a map of where all the total eclipses will be over the next decade. This reveals that you could still see an annular eclipse this year if you traveled to Southern Chile or Argentina for October 2nd and located yourself on a path about 160 miles wide between 20:22 and 20:27 UTC. If you are willing to plan in advance you could use eclipses to plan visits to some interesting places. The next total eclipse is indeed Spain (most probably) in 2026
posted by rongorongo at 12:53 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]

So a year ago I was planning to travel this year for the eclipse...but then i got laid off in July. And my new job doesn't let me use days off until May. So at the very least you aren't as fucked as I am.

I am also looking into travel to future eclipses. And the 2017 eclipse, which in NYC was cloudy and short, was still damn awesome -: I shared my glasses with strangers and had more fun watching them all freak out than I did watching the eclipse itself.

Even a partial eclipse is awesome. Get where you can share in that awe with other people. That is what I am doing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:20 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]

This is me, you are not alone!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:26 AM on April 3

Take consolation in the fact that the traffic before/ after eclipse is so hellish they've closed schools and told locals to work from home in cities in the path. Hotels have jacked up their rates, so have restaurants. You won't be sitting in that massive traffic jam or getting ripped off. Enjoy your quieter, saner experience.
posted by emjaybee at 6:55 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]

Definitely find a science TV or youtube channel doing a livestream in totality from probably a way more awesome location than most of us will be in. I have never found the sky part of the event the most interesting, but the eclipse shadows on the ground are SO cool, every little gap in the tree leaves becomes a pinhole camera, the general light quality gets super freaky.

Lots of us with TX plans are eyeing the weather forecast with increasing dismay (we're going camping to avoid the traffic Sun/Mon, and it looks like the camping trip at least is going to be a mudbath, even if we get a clearish window for the Event), so lots of people may end up watching livestreams with you, or watching them back later.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:29 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]

I've never seen a total eclipse, but honestly reading this article kinda put me off the whole idea.

Tells the story of a whole bunch of people with varying degrees of blindness from having a hole burned in their retina from looking at an eclipse. Several were even wearing eclipse glasses (which might be fake). One doctor quoted said they would never let their family look directly at an eclipse, glasses or no.
posted by osmond_nash at 10:20 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]

In 2017, I was in the 94%-ish band of totality for the solar eclipse that passed over Oregon. I did not drive into the path of totality. My kid and I got eclipse glasses and went to a local park and checked out the weird shadows and saw lots of other folks doing the same. It was an interesting and weird natural experience and a lovely community experience. With all the eclipse fever, I wondered if if I should be driving us down into totality. And the reports afterwards made it clear I was so glad I didn't. People were stuck on the interstate in their cars, in tons of traffic, and some didn't even see totality. It was frustrating chaos.

At the time, I remember hearing about this 2024 eclipse and thinking it seemed so far away. My mom lives in the path so I was sure I'd want to visit her then. Now, hearing about all the eclipse frenzy again, I don't mind missing it. I did not travel to see it.

There are total solar eclipses every two years. If it's important, start planning a trip to see one. But, 94% is still really amazing. I would try to plan to enjoy it locally and be glad you aren't in crowded chaos going to the big natural event.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:09 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

I know the feeling. My dad lives in the path of totality so I would have had a place to stay, which makes it feel more regrettable since it's definitely something I could have done that I made a somewhat unfortunate choice not to do. But I just hate crowds and traffic so, so much. I know that part would have really stressed me out, and I need to avoid additional stress in my life right now

I'm soothing my regret in large part by reminding myself of all the downsides of going, as well as reminding myself that something like 90% of people in the US are not going to be seeing it in person. I'm in good company, I'm not being uniquely deprived of this special experience.

I do wish it wasn't all over social media right now, seeing posts & video about it daily does kind of "rub it in". I haven't decided if I'm going to watch it online or not, but if I don't I may try to avoid social media for a few days so it's not being brought to mind over and over.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:58 AM on April 4

I'm planning on trying to witness more accessible celestial events. Meteor showers happen multiple times a year and are amazing if you can get to a rural area. Where I live, we can see the Northern Lights (faintly) maybe several times a year, but I'd like to travel somewhere further north where they really start popping. And it is a dream of mine to go to a Dark Sky Preserve during a new moon and just stargaze all night.

I was also only one year old during the last Halle's Comet and am hoping to be alive the next time it stops by, in 2061 (I'll be about 76, so very likely!) And we will probably all get to see a bright comet, visible to the naked eye, by this October! There's always really neat celestial stuff going on.
posted by castlebravo at 11:35 AM on April 8

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