Sometime in the mid 90s, I downloaded an astronomy program for my computer. I don’t even remember what it was called. In poking around on it, I discovered that it could plot future total solar eclipses and that one would pass, from the resolution of the map, very close to where I then lived in eastern Tennessee. The date was August 21st, 2017.
It seemed so impossibly far away in 1997, but I filed the date away in my mind.
I got my first job. I graduated from high school. I graduated from Auburn. I started my career and went through three jobs. I moved many, many times. I got married and had a kid. Bought and sold a house.
But I always kept August 21st, 2017 in my head. I kept looking forward to standing under the darkened sun - something most people never get to experience.
As the date grew nearer, I started to get really excited. As the years turned into months I started planning. And as the months became days I started obsessively watching the weather, looking at map plots, and trying to figure out where would be the best place to go. And as the days became hours and it became clear that the weather was going to cooperate for a fantastic display, I could barely contain my excitement. Twenty years of waiting was about to pay off.
So, on August 21st, 2017, I stood in a rural farm field outside Lenoir City, Tennessee with my family and waited. There was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining brightly above us. But as we looked through our glasses (and my camera, with a solar filter on), we could slowly watch as the moon began to march across the sun.