We planned for it in advance, but all good road trips follow a life of their own.

A trip to witness the 2024 Eclipse in North America. Checking several months ahead, flights to anyplace in areas of totality were stupidly expensive, hotels more so. Someone is making money, but it’s not me.

The decision was made to go to Niagara Falls, flying into Toronto, the weather would probably be good, and it’s a great place to visit. For some reason (probably economical) we flew Sunday night, April 7, arrived Monday morning, April 8, and hoped to race to the area of full totality.

What could possibly go wrong?

The weather for a start. Clouds and heavy rain were forecast, and maybe even snow. I almost stayed at home.

Car rental was second. Although booked and paid for, when we got there, the rental office was operated like a Muppet Show with Kermit in charge. I wasn’t laughing at the delays, but our tight schedule eventually held up.

As we drove from Toronto into the area of totality, it wasn’t raining, but the sky was heavy with clouds. I was resigned to disappointment as traffic became heavy. Our hotel was in Hamilton Ontario, on the way to Niagara. The slow progress persuaded us to have a pit-stop at the hotel.

Pit-stop turned into the prime stop, because the sky broke, the clouds cleared, and the sun came out (Yippy!). Instead of glorious Niagara Falls, we opted for the hotel parking lot. We donned our eclipse glasses, cameras, and other parts of spiritual wellbeing to observe the eclipse.

It turned out that Niagara suffered under cloud cover and did not see the eclipse.

I managed to take some pictures of the eclipse in our parking lot. The following are raw photos, without post processing, other than cropping to size. I only had basic equipment.

The first is when totality is about to begin, it’s commonly known as the diamond ring. A small portion of the sun is still visible at the edge of the moon. Blasting a flash of light just like a diamond on a ring.

The second is during totality. The corona or solar atmosphere is clearly visible. Notice that there are some red spots on the edge, these were solar flares shooting sideways out from the sun. This is one of the things professional observers are on the lookout for. Understanding these helps to know what our star is doing and how it behaves.

The next picture is from NASA, if you zoom in close, your will see some similar red spots on the edge.

OK, mine aren’t perfectly in focus, but they’re pretty good for the equipment I had.

It was pretty awe inspiring to see a black hole blocking out the sun. All around us on the horizon it was like a sunset – it was dark like evening, and the birds were shouting “bedtime!”.

The eclipse only lasted a few minutes, and we were able to see the shadow of darkness move away to the northeast.

Some interesting facts:

We are lucky to have eclipses at all. Most planets have moons that do not create an eclipse, they are usually much too small to block out the sun.

There are 2 types of eclipse: total eclipse and annular eclipse. The moon moves in an ellipse so is sometimes closer, and sometimes further from the Earth. This means it doesn’t quite match the perceived size of the sun.

In an annular eclipse, the moon appears smaller allowing a thick boarder of sun around the moon.

2024 was a rare occasion when the Sun and Moon match almost perfectly.

About 700 million years ago, the moon was slightly closer, meaning all eclipses were total, longer, and darker.

The moon is slowly getting more distant from the Earth, meaning in about half a million years (give or take) the moon will appear smaller than the Sun and all eclipses will be annular.

The moral of this story?

Don’t take plan A too seriously.

Don’t worry about plan B either.

You don’t need to worry about anything.

Just live and enjoy eclipses while we can.