When Venus and Jupiter Came Out

When Venus and Jupiter Came Out

Monday, April 15, 2004

I’ve purposely waited until a week since the eclipse to write about it. I wanted to let the dust settle from the event and my soul.

I won’t try to describe how it looked when our sun was completely covered by our moon. You’ve seen the photos, and the images are stunning.

Instead, I want to share how it felt.

I want to describe how it felt standing beside four of my grandchildren in an Oklahoma crossroads town called Haworth as the sun went dark.


It had been mostly cloudy on our four-hour drive north.  We agreed to forge ahead regardless of the conditions. When you’re living The-Regret-Free-Life, you’ll take chances.

But as if out of respect,  the clouds broke apart as the partial escape began.

The sky went smokey as the moon continued covering the sun, and the air felt cooler.

As onlookers counted down to the actual total eclipse, we took off our glasses.

I thought: The absurd idea that our measly satellite plans to block out our nearest star.

Then it happened. I won’t try to explain how it looked.

It was so sudden, as if a galactic-sized light switch had been pulled.

I stepped away and gave my best Dry Creek hoot owl call. It felt appropriate at the moment.

Besides, words weren’t adequate..

It sounds strange, but  I felt the eclipse as much as I saw it.

I thought of the fear and awe past civilizations felt when an unannounced solar eclipse occurred.

I bet they felt it deep within them.

Most of the Oklahoma observers didn’t take their eyes off the eclipse during its short four-plus minutes of totality.

But I did. I had this strong desire to glance around as the seconds ticked down.

I looked around and listened.

The sky went dark.  Not black- midnight, but after-dusk-dark.

The streetlights came on.

The dogs stopped barking.

Even the birds hushed in awe of what was occurring.

Then I saw it—the one thing I’d most wanted to see other than the eclipse itself.

The stars came out.

The patchy clouds obscured most of them, but I picked out Venus and its fellow traveler, Jupiter, as they followed the Sun in their eternal orbits.

Seeing Venus and Jupiter appear in mid-afternoon impressed me the most. It was my biggest takeaway.

That’s what I really came to see. The stars come out in the middle of the day.

And yes, I saw it, but I also felt it.


The total eclipse ended as quickly as it began, and everything returned to normal, more or less.

As the partial eclipse waned, most of the onlookers packed their lawn chairs and left. Anything after a total eclipse is anticlimactic.

I stood beside my four grandchildren.  “Guys, don’t forget to tell your grandkids about this.”

The next day, I asked each of them to give me a one-word response about how it felt.

Noah said, “Incredible.”

Jude added, “Jaw-dropping.”

Luke said it well. “Awesome.”

Maggie  “Indescribable.”


Me? I chose one of my keywords: Amazing.

My life credo is,

  1. Be curious.
  2. Be amazed.
  3. Share about it.

And that’s how I felt at the eclipse. Amazed.



On the way home we stopped to eat in Natchitoches, A group of young eclipse groupies from New Orleans, clad in their eclipse shirts and caps. stood in line.

As I brushed by them,  I said, “I’ll see you guys in 2044.”

They laughed good-naturedly at the old man.

But I was serious. I plan to see it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2044.

I’ll be eighty-eight earth-years old.

I’ll  see it either from below in Bullhead, South Dakota or from above in a front row seat.

But I’ll be there.


I was simply amazed.



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