I’m still trying to come down from yesterday’s thrill of a lifetime. My family drove to Sylva, North Carolina to be in the totality zone, and the experience was even more astonishing then I could have imagined. I’m so glad we made the trip.

      We arrived at a park three hours before the sun would disappear, and this tiny NC mountain town was packed already. This place was amazing… live music, kids’ activities, a massive obstacle course playground, and bright blue skies.

      My dad built a pinhole viewer out of a Biltmore wine box, because we are fancy like that.

      I loved catching crescents in my hand.


      Seconds before totality. My heart beats faster as I remember the thrill of this moment.


      I was trembling so much at this moment that I can’t believe I got the shot.


      When I looked at this picture on a large screen today, I was delighted to see it was filled with stars and planets! They were not visible to the naked eye yesterday. Zoom in if you’re looking on your phone, but it would be much better find a large monitor to check it out. You’ll see what I believe to be Regulus to the left, Mercury beneath, a red-hued Mars to the right, and many more that I can’t yet identify.

      I took only one frame like this. When I noticed that I was shooting at 1/200, I quickly sped up my shutter speed to 1/1000 for the rest of my images, so I could see more detail in the solar flares. It never occurred to me that a slower shutter speed would reveal stars and planets that I didn’t see were there.

      Note to my 2024 self: Take some longer exposures and see what happens.


      This diamond ring appeared as the moon continued on its way.


      This was my adrenaline rush when it was all over and I was scrolling through my pictures. It was the thrill of a lifetime. Absolutely spectacular. Jaw dropping. My heart was still racing.


      Related posts:

      Our epic American road trip, part 1: The paradise of Colorado

      Our epic American road trip, part 2: The magic of Montana

      Some of my favorite scenic photos from 2016

      Scenes from our vacation to the gorgeous Southwest of England

      A whirlwind trip to majestic Montana, including Glacier National Park

      Corolla, NC: Outer Banks, part 1

      Corolla, NC: Outer Banks, part 2

      Charlotte Geary


      Lifestyle, event, and portrait photographer with a vibrant, joyful style and 17 years of professional experience.

      Located in Reston, Virginia near Washington, D.C. and available for travel.