Want to keep reading?

You've reached the end of your complimentary access. Subscribe for as little as $4/month.

Aready a Subscriber ? Sign In

I walked out onto the balcony. I was barefoot and the balcony was hot, so I was jumping around. We were in South Carolina to see the eclipse. My dad put a blanket on the floor so I didn’t burn my feet. I swiftly jumped onto it to save my poor feet from being burned by the intense heat. I then put on my special eclipse glasses. Now I could carelessly look at the sun without blinding myself. I saw the moon hovering over the bright sun, one quarter of the way to totality. I ducked down, and my mom handed me some cold, refreshing iced tea we had gotten just for this occasion.

I learned about the stages of a total solar eclipse on a NASA website.

P1 is called first contact. The moon looks like it is touching the sun but it’s actually not covering it at all.

When it was halfway to totality, I ducked down again, took off my glasses and gazed at the ground, wondering what totality would be like. Maybe an explosion of blinding light? A dark light? I imagined in my head what would happen.

Now, at three-fourths the way to totality, it was much colder and much darker, like sitting under an umbrella. I slurped my iced tea and put on my special glasses, then I stared at the eclipse in amazement. For some reason, my mouth was wide open. I ducked down, removed my glasses, and pretended to be a tour guide. "Shade break. A beautiful experience," I said to my sister. She laughed.

P2 is second contact. It looks like the moon is covering the sun and there are more sun rays than the sun, but the sun still shows. It is the last instant before totality. It usually looks like a diamond ring!

I drank some iced tea and gurgled it in my mouth. Racing the clock, I put my glasses back on and looked up right in time to see...


In an explosion of light, the sun and moon seemed to pop out, then arranged themselves into a beautiful, shimmering, ghostly ring. Everyone around me cheered. My dad took pictures by putting his glasses onto his camera lens. I could not believe it.

Totality is the point when the moon covers the sun completey so you can only see the sun rays. Totality can only be seen in a path of totality, which is less than ten miles wide but sometimes more than 10,000 miles long. Totality only occurs because the sun’s radius is approximately 400 times the radius of the moon, and the moon is approximately 400 times closer to the earth than the sun. This makes the sun seem smaller than the moon, so the moon can "cover the sun."

Afterwards, when the moon started to show the sun again, sunglasses were not needed anymore. Totality was really fun.

P3 is third contact. It looks like a mirror image of the diamond ring. It is the moment right after totality ends.

P4 is fourth contact. It looks like a mirror image of First Contact. It is the first moment after totality where the sun is not being covered by the moon, but some of the sun rays are.

Later on, I thought more about eclipses. I was amazed at the sun's brightness in the beginning and the darkness during totality. I would like to see an eclipse again and share my experience with others. I wondered what others thought of the eclipse and if they liked it as much as I did.

Kyle Wu The Eclipse
Kyle Wu, 9
New York, NY