Finding Light In The Shadows: Lessons Learned During Yesterday’s Solar Eclipse

October 24, 2014

If you’re anything like me, there are a few weeks every year that push you to your breaking point. For me, it’s the entire month of October.

Don’t get me wrong: October is my favorite month – the sights, the smells, the sounds, the tastes – a long autumn in Minnesota is paradise. October is also the month when my four favorite people in the world were born (two of them, my twins, share today, October 24th – happy birthday, girls!), but therein lies the problem. These celebrations of the ones I love would be a good thing if I didn’t put so much pressure on myself to make sure each birthday is memorable and better than the year before. October also brings school pictures, the school fundraiser, conferences, MEA break and Halloween; it’s just a lot of juggling, planning and coordinating.

But yesterday everything changed.

As I hurried my girls to school with thoughts of cupcake-baking and present-wrapping and treat-bag-preparation running through my head, something on The Current broke my trance…

there was going to be a solar eclipse…

that afternoon.

I get giddy about eclipses and all my thoughts about today’s birthday party vanished immediately.

But, while I may geek out over these solar shows, I am never prepared for them. So this time, with eight hours’ notice, I decided to take the appropriate measures and document the results.

Searching for supplies

Searching for supplies

Since Amazon has yet to open a Minneapolis brick-and-mortar and Prime shipping wouldn’t cut it, I turned to Google, which led me to Toll Gas, a welding supply company in Bloomington. When I told the salesman what I needed the #14 welder’s glass for he sold it to me for half price…turns out that was $3.00 well spent.


Don't try this at home

Don’t try this at home

Next up was preparing the pinhole projectors. I still remember using one of these to view a solar eclipse on my school lawn in the 1990s. In addition to the paper-and-shoebox models, I came across one that used reading glasses. Sure, why not, I thought, so off to Walgreens I went and paid $14.99 for a pair of +1 readers.

Finally, I grabbed a few colanders from the kitchen and my camera and headed back to Bloomington to Bush Lake for the late afternoon show.

The results:


Basic pinhole projector

+1 Reading Glasses. $14.99 at your local drugstore.

+1 reading glasses with aluminum foil




Welder’s glass, shade 14

Partial Eclipse 2014

Solar eclipse stages viewed through welder’s glass

I didn’t capture any truly breathtaking images of the eclipse, but as the sun began its descent my focus shifted to my two beautiful daughters playing on the beach. I listened to their laughter and their feet splashing in the water, I felt the cool sand between my toes, and I thanked the eclipse for bringing me back from my breaking point, even if just for one October day.

A rare and spectacular event indeed.


The next U.S. solar eclipse will be on August 21, 2017. It will be a total eclipse — and this time I will be totally prepared.