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Science Writing

‘It looked like a Life Saver. It looked like a Life Saver up in the sky.’

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Annie Dillard first published her essay ‘Total Eclipse’ in 1982. It’s since been republished The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New. Below are a couple of my favorite snippets. Read the entire essay on The Atlantic.

On seeing the total solar eclipse, also known as the path of totality:

If you think very fast, you may have time to think, “Soon it will hit my brain.” You can feel the deadness race up your arm; you can feel the appalling, inhuman speed of your own blood. We saw the wall of shadow coming, and screamed before it hit.

On seeing a partial eclipse:

I had seen a partial eclipse in 1970. A partial eclipse is very interesting. It bears almost no relation to a total eclipse. Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him, or as flying in an airplane does to falling out of an airplane.

Are you excited to see the moon lurch between the sun and the Earth?

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of four books.

10 replies on “‘It looked like a Life Saver. It looked like a Life Saver up in the sky.’”

Thanks Sandra. It was quite a sight. I guess the next one will be some 20+ years away…

It certainly was a spectacular event! My favorite part (I didn’t see a total eclipse where I live) was the crescent-shaped shadows you could see!

I actually feel bad saying this. Maybe if i had been somewhere with good viewing but being in Los Angeles I was highly underwhelmed with the eclipse today.

Yeah — you needed to be elsewhere. It looked fascinating from DC, even moreso if you were in its trajectory…

I wish I was based in the US so I could view the eclipse! Very envious of all you out there able to see this beautiful event.

I saw about 80% of totality. Had to borrow my coworker’s glasses. Pretty remarkable.

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