My formal 2024 solar eclipse apology

totality of a solar eclipse, like an upside down diamond ring.
Moments before the end of totality during the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse. (Image credit: / Josh Dinner)

Since April 8, when I witnessed a total eclipse of the sun, I've been feeling progressively more melancholy. It isn't because I was underwhelmed, or because my vantage point wasn't ideal, or because of some depressing epiphany I had while watching the moon turn our planet's star into a wispy white halo. I've actually been struggling to find the right words to explain my sullenness all week.

I've been scribbling random thoughts in my iPhone notes app as they've emerged. They've come up as I sat in a Lyft, ate pretzel bites at the airport and slumped in my aisle seat while listening to "Weird Fishes" on the flight home from Indianapolis to New York. I think these ideas, though not all related, share a certain yearning. What I realized is, the 2024 solar eclipse felt so intrinsically dream-like, confusing and surreal that, the more time passes from those few minutes of totality, the more my body accepts it as truly a dream. And it feels sad to distance myself so quickly. We usually get to have at least a few months, maybe even a few years, before yesterday becomes cemented in the past. I'm not quite sure I had a few hours.

The eclipse has already started to feel like a childhood memory that may have been concocted after watching old home videos — a memory attached to one vivid visual, maybe two, and a deep cradle of emotions. The image of totality is burned in my brain, but my mind was scattered during those moments because I was panicked about where to focus my eyes and what to think about that's important enough to be in the same room as an event most call "once-in-a-lifetime." I was overthinking it. One of my grammatically incorrect notes app scribbles literally says, "i didn't know where to look what to do with myself." The result is that I have only jumbled thoughts swiftly merging into a single echo, as I'm sure this story makes clear. 

Related: I'm headed to Indiana to prove myself wrong about solar eclipses

On April 8, soon after it was announced the eclipse had begun, I didn't rush out of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway press room where I was sitting to catch a glimpse of the sun. There was no haste; I have even previously written about how I mostly classify myself as an eclipse cynic. I knew it'd be cool, even existential, but I wasn't sure I'd need to watch a bit of space traffic to be emotionally moved. I'm the type of person who can be emotionally moved by anything philosophical, so why would I need to physically see an eclipse? I already cared about the concept.

When I put on my cerulean paper Warby Parker solar eclipse glasses and peered up at the sun, I have to be honest: I thought I was going to be right about my skepticism. The sun looked very interesting. There's no doubt about that. I even texted our group chat saying I might wish the sun always looked like this, like a "bitten cookie" as my father described in a parallel text thread I had with him and my mother. It did. It resembled an orange ginger snap with a chunk knocked off in the shape of someone's dentition. Still, I wouldn't say I felt a profound shift. But as the clock continued ticking and totality began to approach, I grew aware of my breathing. It was alarming. I did not expect it.

Surrounded by thousands of people on a racetrack who were involuntarily shouting with glee as a crescent sun slipped into a sliver, I could sense the Earth turning. I could notice that we weren't standing on top of our planet, but rather were stuck to it somewhere on the side due to the curvature of space and time, and Earth itself. The crisp winds flowing through my hair started feeling like streams of individual molecules. The temperature dropping made me think about thermodynamics. I wondered where the birds were. A guy standing next to me, who had just asked me for advice about his solar eclipse glasses in a serious tone, was screaming "bro, look at the sky." I almost cried, and I didn't know if it was because of the eclipse or if it was because of myself.

Suddenly, I couldn't see anything through my lenses anymore. The sun was gone. Someone nearby yelled "take them off!" to no one in particular. I did, and I saw totality.

Totality, April 8, 2024. (Image credit: / Josh Dinner)

I've concluded that, as my pictures do not do totality justice, neither do my words. It would be like trying to explain what a new color looks like, or attempting to equate a photo of a sunset to a magenta-streaked sky, and that's why I have to end this story here. I needed to see this in person because it's something that language can't quite capture; there was something out there that seemed like it should not exist. Imagine seeing the moon for the first time after decades of living under an empty night sky. It is very visceral to see such a strange cosmic scene with only your eyes, as though you've traveled to an alien planet with a cold, black sun. They were right, whoever they are. 

Another one of my notes app thoughts is a lyric from the song "Holy Shit" by Father John Misty. I'm not surprised I wrote this down. It's one of my favorite lyrics ever, and I think it can be interpreted in many different ways.

"maybe love is just an economy based on resource scarcity"

A time-lapse composite of the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse over Indiana University's Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana. (Image credit: / Josh Dinner)

Related: I proposed to my fiancée under the diamond ring of the 2024 total solar eclipse

In this case, it made me think about how the rarity of a total solar eclipse, a rarity that owes itself in part to the sheer coincidence of our sun and moon appearing the same size from our perspective on Earth, is why my memory of this experience is so treasured, and one I wish wouldn't fade away. It's why it had the power to make me give the sun space in my mind next to the spot I've always reserved for the moon.

It would probably be better if we had more love in the world; I don't believe love needs to be an economy based on resource scarcity, and have always taken that lyric as a sarcastic point about how we've come to view love. But, maybe it's best we don't have more total solar eclipses. My cynicism might've actually held true if the solar eclipse market was saturated. Yet, total solar eclipses will remain rare. Therefore, so will the way they make us feel. 

Maybe it was never purely about the sun, or the moon, and that's where my mistake was in thinking these events aren't really worth the hype; maybe it was just about resource scarcity, and a human desire to see the abnormal in such a way that we become aware of our existence. I don't think that's a bad thing, to be clear. It's simply perhaps why a total solar eclipse is considered so remarkable. Indeed, the one I saw was remarkable. So, if you would, please accept this article as my formal apology for being an eclipse hater.

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Monisha Ravisetti
Astronomy Channel Editor

Monisha Ravisetti is's Astronomy Editor. She covers black holes, star explosions, gravitational waves, exoplanet discoveries and other enigmas hidden across the fabric of space and time. Previously, she was a science writer at CNET, and before that, reported for The Academic Times. Prior to becoming a writer, she was an immunology researcher at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. She graduated from New York University in 2018 with a B.A. in philosophy, physics and chemistry. She spends too much time playing online chess. Her favorite planet is Earth.

  • GalacticDaddy
    All of this. I was "narrating" the eclipse for a crowd in our small downtown area. Upon removing my glasses my voice cracked and I almost teared up, but I remembered that I told my 14 yo daughter that I wouldn't embarrass her. During the next four minutes, I forgot that she was there, I called Venus Saturn, forgot the word "corona" and really just kind of lost mental faculties while staring at this hole in the sky.

    Afterwards, it really bothered me that I didn't connect with my kid while she was sitting there. That was the whole reason for keeping her out of school that day. Yes, our schools stayed in session. But during the eclipse I was just agog at what I saw and forgot to have that moment with my daughter.

    And now three days after, I'm still in this melancholy mood. What's next? My memories of the event are as you described. Did I really witness this or did I dream it? For the four minutes that we had, was I mysteriously transported somewhere else and NOT there with my daughter and friends? Did they disappear too?

    Great piece and thanks for the thoughts.
  • jimbo5
    Really enjoyed your writing Monisha. Unfortunately was not able to witness this eclipse but your words capture such attentive awareness of the event. I draw parallels with my experience of watching a transit of mercury back in 2019.
  • apcantonphotog
    Excellent article and thoughts. I can relate so much to what you're feeling and what you experienced. Why, I've been wondering, after such an event, did I feel depressed all of a sudden? It was a moving, chaotic, and totally awesome adrenaline rush (my hands were shaking ), but why this feeling of anhedonia? Maybe I am still so overwhelmed to the point that I can't process it correctly. I've been asked many times what it was like to see the total eclipse by people who didn't see it, and the words escape me. I won't attempt to describe it to anyone because I realize it's a "feeling" you get from the experience and the ultimate "you had to be there" moment, so my response is always, "it was unreal". And I don't say much else because I don't know if I truly understand what I experienced because it was so surreal. I'm in a strange existential crisis at the moment. I can't stop thinking about it. I've been trying to replay the total eclipse in my head with accuracy the last few nights while lying in bed, with images of me standing by my aging parents as we looked up at the sky, the exclamations of nearby people, the dimming light, the cooling, the black dot hovering above us, alive and like a portal to another world.
  • kabrown633
    You describe it perfectly. I saw totality in 2017 in South Carolina and I unexpectedly cried. I remember feeling disoriented and like I didn't know where to look. A bald eagle flew right over my head and people were screaming. It was so remarkable. I still get chills when I think about it. Unfortunately, clouds arrived in Buffalo three minutes before totality this time. But the collective feeling we all shared as we were plunged into darkness was still wonderful. Thanks for describing something that is impossible to describe.
  • Helio
    Converts are always fun to hear from! Apology accepted. ;)

    Nice article and well-written! It takes talent to better define the world during moments when it exhibits strange behavior.
    A total eclipse is one of these moments. It's uncommon for people to look up, especially at the painful Sun; it's outside our normal mindset. To help get folks on the above things, a PowerPoint on the Sun and eclipses was presented just prior to the beginning of the eclipse. Perhaps the knowledge gained helped us transition into the surreal.

    Only a sum of several seconds of the eclipse was visible through the ubiquitous clouds. Ironically perhaps, the thick overcast boosted our experience by adding to the surprising degree of darkness we experienced. I couldn't see the courtyard fence only 30 feet away. People nearby vanished as they were gently bathed in darkness.

    A PP astro trivia contest was done after the eclipse, which was a way to keep our minds elevated on the things above a little while longer, and in a fun way.

    Though many had to leave their home early to fight the traffic and some had to take off from work to attend, I was surprised at how everyone were so openly excited from their time together.
  • Fogcollectordan
    Here's my reflection of this event:

    The Mist Eclipse

    The tension was building for months, if not for years. The last total solar eclipse to pass North America for 20 years! The news of the event portrayed people crying in Mazatlan at the sight, clouds parting in Texas enough to see the event, an airplane flying right under it in Indiana visible to those on the ground, viewers in Niagara Falls catching a priceless glimpse during an in-and-out break in the weather, and my family and I in Rochester, NY (along with the population that was there and the 100,000 visitors) only seeing the thickening clouds darken to late twilight and then lighten back.

    Having seen the eclipse of 2017 in Oregon, I knew the spectacle we had missed and the gem that lurked behind the clouds in a direction that I had to guess due to their thickness. A phenomenon that demonstrates the incredible serendipity of the sizes and distances of our moon and sun that leads to an enigma that is both sun-and-moon and is neither sun-nor-moon in an amazing specter of contradiction. An event where the invisible disk of the moon covers the blinding brightness of the sun for long enough to reveal what is there, but which we can otherwise never see. A cosmic distraction of opposites that provides a momentary respite from our own earthly challenges based on our own differences and polarizations that appear miniscule before the grandeur in the heavens.

    My disappointment in missing this was heightened by my desire for my childhood family, my sister and my parents, who are in their eighties, to witness their first of this rare and unearthly treat, much less right from our own driveway where I had spent many an hour scanning the skies 45 years earlier. As a person who researches and captures fog (itself a form of cloud) and an astronomy enthusiast as a child, this contradiction was also apparent to me. I love both the clouds and the mysteries in the skies, just not at the same time.

    What this eclipse did bring, however, was my childhood nuclear family of four together once again, a rare ‘eclipse of opportunity.’ It was also a reflection for me of the relatively minor disappointments that we endure in light of the suffering many face in the world right now. It provides a drop of hope that those who were fortunate enough to witness the eclipse may take with them to help reveal a deeper truth and opportunity for opposites to come together to produce a positive reality that none of us could have imagined.
  • Jeanne Loring
    This was my 16th total solar eclipse, and it still evoked the response in my reptilian brain that something is very wrong - a touch of fear that the sun is gone forever. For some reason, I like this!
  • FizzyLinn
    Admin said:
    I used to be an eclipse hater, and now I'm not. That's the story.

    My formal 2024 solar eclipse apology : Read more
    Thank you for this article. I saw totality in 2017 in Wyoming. When that giant black spot seemed to suddenly appear in the sky, I could not understand what I was seeing, didn't know what to do with myself, just walking around weeping and babbling excited nonsense. As soon as it was over, I knew that the emptiness and loss I felt was only going to be filled by experiencing totality again. For this year's eclipse, my boyfriend and I made our way to his hometown in rural Indiana to view with his brother and parents from their front yard. This time, I reasoned, I knew what to expect. I was again awestruck and emotionally overwhelmed, but what I wasn't anticipating was the almost panicky feeling that it was going to come to an end even before it was over. And felt the same inexplicable loss immediately after.

    I understand eclipse-chasers now. It's like an addiction, but worse because you absolutely have to wait and have the money, time and fortitude to be in a physical location that may be nowhere near where you live. Spain in 2026? Egypt in 2027? Australia in 2028? I need to make more money... :)
  • TrailX
    I was lucky to have clear skies and a couple of cameras recording during the event, the most important was the camera facing us, recording our reactions. I've watched them over and over now, and I think that has helped eliminate the melancholy that may otherwise be there. I still can't help but tear up about it. Where's this emotion coming from? I feel humbled to have witnessed it with my family by my side, sharing in the immensity. However, its really hard to describe it to anyone that wasn't there, even with my video in hand.

    I saw your skeptical article, and was looking forward to reading your follow-up after witnessing it myself. It was also my family's first eclipse. My son is 4, and will be 26 on the next eclipse. I find the ability to have a known commitment that far out on the calendar to be a helpful reminder of time passing in a truly meaningful chunk. Years can almost feel short sometimes, but when you're talking about marking the passing of 21 years, that's something that really has some gravitas. What will the next eclipse bring and be like?
  • FizzyLinn
    I agree! My boyfriend had a video camera running during the totality in 2017 and when I've watch it and hear my teary freak out, it brings me back to the moment more than any picture of the eclipse itself. He had a GoPro filming us this last one and I've watched a time lapse of the entire event which was interesting, but I think watching real time of the moment of totality will definitely help bring me back. Thank you!