Durham County

At the Eno: A total eclipse of the heart

The moon takes a “bite out of the sun” at the Morehead Planetarium

Eclipse viewers gather outside UNC's Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, N.C. to watch as the moon moved in front of the sun Monday afternoon.
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Eclipse viewers gather outside UNC's Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, N.C. to watch as the moon moved in front of the sun Monday afternoon.

The moon passed over the sun, and Durham dimmed.

Any entomologist who’d predicted no Carolina cricket would start chirruping was mistaken.

Eno River State Park rangers watched 92.7 percent of Earth’s star disappear, standing with tilted heads in a field on the edge of parkland woods by the river.

At 2:43 p.m. Monday, the solar eclipse reached its totality over the Triangle, and an August mid-afternoon’s heat softened a little as the shadow deepened.

The experience was not of a full eclipse – too bright for the stars to shine through daylight.

And Colin Rafferty couldn’t help but think about the daughter he’d just left behind.

Rafferty had pulled off the highway and stopped near the banks of the Eno River to watch the sky with his wife, Marleny, and son, Aaron, after dropping Eva Rafferty off at Guilford College for her freshman year.

Colin, Marleny and Aaron were on their way home to their apartment off Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, near the New York City borough’s biggest museum.

Eva had had her mind set on going to a small liberal arts college and Colin had assumed his daughter would in all likelihood stay in the Northeast where prospective students are “inundated with liberal arts” options, he said.

The final goodbye before the parents got back into a car to drive 10 hours, out of the South, toward the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge without Eva was quick and slightly saddening.

Delaying the trip for another hour, Colin wanted to watch the eclipse somewhere nice instead of some random rest-stop parking lot, he said.

Park Ranger Kimberly Radewicz passed out Friends of State Parks protective eye wear to around two dozen watchers.

“Now all we need to do is start chanting, some face paint and start dancing,” Colin Rafferty said. “That’s what I do every solar eclipse, and the sun always comes back. Works every time.”

He kind of nervously swayed back and forth when telling the joke.

A fellow watcher, Taft Dixon, told a park ranger, “I’m a firefighter and a EMT, so if anything goes down let me know.”

“Oh,” Radewicz said. “Oh, thank you.”

“If something goes down, let me know,” Dixon said.

Through dark protective glass the sun looked like a bright orange ball and then pitch black.

As the moon moved over – seemingly pushing into, smooshing – the sun inward, the orange ball slowly turned into an orange crescent.

Up in the sky, the sun looked like a fiery frown.

The eclipse peaked and under suppressed light, cicadas sounded. The Raffertys stared wide-eyed as Eno River crickets chirped.

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks

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