Welcome!

Welcome to the site that delves into the total solar eclipse experience.

You may have read that a total solar eclipse is one of the most awesome and sublime nature events.  But the real question is – what is it like to experience a total eclipse, or totality as it is known?

A Total Solar Eclipse occurs when the Moon moves between the Sun and the Earth, completely covering the disc of the Sun. When this occurs, the shadow of the Moon is cast onto the Earth along what is called the path of totality. Everyone and everything within that path is plunged into an eerie darkness for a few minutes.

Experiencing totality in 2012 near Palm Cove, North Queensland. (c) 2012, Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Standing in the shadow of the Moon during totality in Palm Cove, North Queensland. (c) 2012, Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Totality – those special minutes of darkness – is an awesome experience and should be on top of everyone’s bucket list.

But here’s the thing – most people do not understand how incredible it is.  It is a strange and unusual experience that affects us profoundly, and is very difficult to describe.  Also, there are many who think they have seen a total eclipse, when in fact they have only seen a partial eclipse.  They then think it is something that is boring, and of no interest.

The total solar eclipse is a very unique experience.  Those who do experience totality for the first time are often overwhelmed and can’t wait to see it again.

The Total Eclipse of 2006. © Miloslav Drukmullar

A total eclipse occurs once on average every 18 months somewhere around the world. However, for it to occur in a single location is extremely rare – only once in every 375 years. This is why a total eclipse is considered to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

I saw my first total solar eclipse in 1999.   It was such an unexpected, emotional, intense, gob-smacking, awesome experience. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I had NO IDEA that it would be so immersive, that I would have no words to describe it, and that it would literally transform my life.

I immediately became an eclipse chaser – even though I had no idea that there was such a thing. I was determined that I would re-experience that moment as often as I could. I now travel to the ends of the earth to experience a totality.  I am not alone – many others from around the world do the same.  We are a community of eclipse chasers.

You do not have to be a scientist, an astronomer, or a bearded man with a telescope to enjoy the total eclipse experience. I am none of these.  I am a Clinical Psychologist, used to delving into the human psyche in my clinical practice.  But once I experienced totality for myself, I realised that the total eclipse experience is something very unique and special as a human experience.  You do not see a total eclipse – you experience it.

Totality makes you feel things in a way that you may never have felt before.  You feel insignificance, connection, awe, euphoria, primal fear – and a whole host of other emotions over a very short period of time.  You lose your sense of time, place and person.  You are left feeling like you can achieve anything, and with new insights.

I have been chasing eclipses now for almost two decades.  Since 2010 I have been researching the lived experience of totality, as a way of understanding why it can affect us so profoundly.

I have also been helping communities prepare for a total eclipse since 2012.

I have developed experience, expertise and resources in both of these areas, and am happy to share what I know with everyone.  You can explore these two areas fully by delving into the following sections:

THE ECLIPSE EXPERIENCE

COMMUNITY ECLIPSE PLANNING

If you are looking for an in-depth understanding of the eclipse experience and want to understand what it is all about, and why people chase eclipses, then you should explore the section on EXPERIENCE.  I have surveyed and interviewed hundreds of people about their eclipse experience, and you can check out my research projects under RESEARCH.

For a great introduction to the eclipse experience, my forthcoming book Being in the Shadow:  Stories of the First Time Total Eclipse Experience will be available in early June.  This is a great book for those who have never seen a total eclipse before, and are not really sure what it’s all about.  Especially those who live within or near to the path of totality.

Those looking for a more detailed, academic understanding of the eclipse experience will find my first book Total Addiction: The Life of an Eclipse Chaser  invaluable.  This also features personal stories from eclipse chasers, relating these to psychological concepts.

If you want to know more about what it is like for a community to experience being in the path of the shadow of the Moon, with lots of stories and stunning images, then my second book Totality 2012 is the one for you.

Or perhaps you live within the path of totality for the next total eclipse, and need some information on how to prepare your community for this once-in-a-lifetime event. In this case, you should explore the PLANNING section of this website.  You will find my White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning very useful.

Whatever you do, make sure you see a total solar eclipse at least once in your life. And when you do, I guarantee that you will want to re-experience it again and again. Then you will have joined a tribe of people from around the world who love nothing more than to stand in the shadow of the Moon – the community of eclipse chasers.

 

eclipse chaser c KR