Solar Eclipse in My Garden

It’s been an exciting day here in North America. Depending on where you live, you could witness the first total eclipse of the sun in the U.S. from the Pacific to the Atlantic since 1918.

AccuWeather total solar eclipse

Map of total solar eclipse route. We live in the 70% range – Source: AccuWeather

Here in San Jose, we witnessed a partial solar eclipse for about 2 1/2 hours. It reached its maximum impact at 10:21 a.m. when I popped outside with my camera to take some garden pics.

The occluded sun cast crescent-shaped shadows on the ground and the side of the house. I took this photo one minute before maximum impact.

crescent shaped shadows eclipse

During the eclipse: Crescent shaped shadows cast by the tree on the side of the house

Here’s what I noticed in the garden:

Most of the flowers in bloom remained open with one exception: the pumpkin blossoms. The flowers started curling in, and when I checked on them after lunch, they had closed up tight. Fascinating!

pumpkin blossum during solar eclipse

During the Eclipse: Pumpkin blossom closing in 10:23 am

It was eerily quiet when I went outside. We had less birdsong than usual.  The bees, however, continued on with their day.  I admire their industrious nature and silently thanked them for keeping our planet afloat.

bees during solar eclipse

During the eclipse: the bees didn’t seem to register any difference

National Public Radio aired live updates throughout the day, and though it’s radio and not TV, they managed to convey the excitement as the eclipse crossed a thin ribbon of states.

Back in the garden, I enjoyed the interesting shadows.

Pumpkin in shadows solar eclipse

During the Eclipse: Pumpkin fruit in shadows 10:23 am

California poppies during the solar eclipse

During the eclipse: California poppies 10:24 am

pumpkin shadow during solar eclipse

During the eclipse: Arching ribbon of shadow on the pumpkin’s surface 10:35 am

Indoors, the cats were oblivious. (See Monday through Sunday for comparison…ha!)

Did you witness all or part of the eclipse today?

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49 thoughts on “Solar Eclipse in My Garden

  1. It was quite a show, wasn’t it? A friend gave me some glasses to watch it and I did watch it from the top of the terrace. I was not as observant as you have been. It felt quite eerie here for a while. It never got dark, just as though a cloud cover had come over. I’m fascinated with all your observations.

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  2. In my neck of the woods we had heavy cloud cover, and I saw the sun peek out only for a second. BOOO! But your beautiful photos and narrative more than make up for any disappointment — especially your observations about the flowers and their attendant bees. Thank you, lovely Alys. xx

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    • Heavy cloud cover! Now that is disappointing. I’m sorry to hear. You are a dear to say such nice things about my blog post, but I’m sure it was a let down after all they hype. As for the bees, have you noticed how hard it is to get a still shot? They are constantly on the move. It’s quite extraordinary. I took photos of one of those shiny black bees (a carpenter bee perhaps?) but nothing came out clearly. I love watching them, listening to them, and seeing them in action. Hugs, Heidebee

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      • I sincerely meant every word about your lovely blog post! It was exactly what I’d been hoping for from the eclipse — a sense of a shared experience with other Americans all across the U.S. The fact that your post contained flowers and bees was simply an added bonus! 😉 And yes, you are right about how difficult it is to photograph bees — another reason I found your shots so impressive. Even the big bumblebees, totally laden with pollen, won’t sit still long enough to pose for a decent portrait. But thank goodness they are so industrious, for otherwise the rest of us would starve!

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        • Thank you! (((Heidebee))) When I was a young girl with bright red hair, much more copper-colored than it is today in my mid-fifties, bees would often light on my hair or shoulders. Even at that young age, it felt like a compliment to have attention from a bee. I know people are deathly afraid of them, but though I’ve been stung twice (both inadvertently provoked on my part), I find them peaceful and at ease around me. My first bee sting as a young girl was painful and shocking. One minute I was jumping barefoot through a hula-hoop, and the next screaming in pain and fear. When I saw the bee dying on the pavement, I was sorry for what I had done. (I’m an emotional sap, in case you had any doubt).

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  3. Here, it started to look like a storm–the light changed, but it remained a bright, sunny day. The cicadas got confused and started to sing, but that’s the only odd thing I noticed. I like your shadow picture.

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  4. I’m glad you got to experience it – it is quite a phenomenon isn’t it. We were all in bed fast asleep while you were sun gazing this time. I’ve only ever experienced one total eclipse of the sun in my life time. The girls were still quite young that’s how long ago it was – but I can still remember what happened quite clearly. The way the world fell so eerily quiet as you said – no birds, no natural sounds, no human sounds. I think there was also no traffic as everyone had stopped to observe. Our light got quite dim and the moon flowers I had growing down the drive all opened – they are degenerate night bloomers if you haven’t come across them before. Not long after that event, in my memory any way so I might be quite wrong regarding the time line, we had a total lunar eclipse and I recall going outside to observe and seeing the full moon hanging lightless above me – looking for all the world like a proper planet descending on us. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to observe how everything changes for those brief minutes as nature says – hey look what I can do…. I wish there would be more stress put on observing what happens around us as you did, rather than just peering at the sun through special lenses. It’s such an opportunity to get to grips with all we take for granted – what does happen when the sun gets extinguished for just half a minute? Or am I being too serious about the whole thing?

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    • Pauline, it might be fun to look up your past eclipse to learn more about it. You can search by decade here: https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/list.html

      It looks like they happen twice a year, in part, but that a full eclipse, sun or lunar, is rare. Nature is fascinating. I loved reading about your night bloomers, Pauline, and I’m intrigued by the stillness you also experienced. I think that may have been my favorite part…until a jet flew over to remind me what century we’re in. 😉

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  5. What a wonderfully fascinating account of today’s eclipse, Alys! I’m so grateful that you documented the changes in your garden and shared them with us. The change in the shadows is really remarkable! Your photos are just beautiful.

    We were in the 87% totality path today. I noticed the wildly loud birdsong grow suddenly quiet. Our streetlights came on at 1:19pm. Everything seemed very still and eerie… in an exciting kind of way! Several friends and family members drove 5 1/2 hours to view the 100% totality in southern Illinois. We’re looking forward to hearing their accounts.

    It was so nice to have an event that brought our entire country together, if only for one day! ♡

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    • Dawn, I agree! It was nice having an event that brought people together. We need more like it, too. 87% totality sounds amazing. I know what you mean, too, about eerie in an exciting way. It was eerie. It’s as though everything we know about the world is off kilter for awhile: the shadows and light, the stillness, the quiet. I enjoyed the experience. Your family and friends will have great stories to share. I don’t think anyone has been unmoved by the experience.

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  6. Not a sign of it here, the middle of the night is not the best time for solar eclipse viewing… Lunar eclipses, now that’s a different story. I’m quite envious, as it’s exactly the sort of natural phenomenon I adore. Never mind…

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  7. I am imagining your experience from a similar one here a couple of years ago. The silence was the most surprising part – birds thinking it was night!

    Anyway, I’m glad you experienced part of the eclipse and clearly observed so much, Alys 😊.

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  8. I liked seeing your account of the eclipse from the garden’s point of view. I’m gratified to know that your cats carried on regardless – as mine would have done 😉

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  9. I remember the solar eclipse in the U.K. It was quite a few years ago now. It is fascinating to see flowers close & animals go quite. We have some lovely photos of the half moon shadows in mum’s garden.

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  10. We were even farther outside the path of totality than you were so it wasn’t very dramatic here. BUT in 7 years, the next big eclipse in the US looks destined to pass right over upstate New York! I love those crescent-shaped shadows on the fence.

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  11. Interesting to hear the pumpkin blossoms closed! We had a partial eclipse a few years ago, and I noticed my tulips closing! We had a total eclipse here in 1999, and I also noticed the birds went quiet and that was weird! Glad you could observe and share with us Alys! 🙂

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    • It would have been surreal to have a near-total blackout, eh? Interesting that your air cooled down. Here, it was a bit like the experience of the clouds covering the sun for a short time. I heard a journalist on NPR last week who’s traveled the world to witness eclipses. Wouldn’t that be something? That said, I’m more likely to want to travel the world to visit botanical gardens and architectural wonders. That would be something!

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  12. I put my iPad to a map and set the tv to the NASA channel. About 1/2 an hour before it peaked here it started pouring rain. I felt a bit cheated. I did enjoy watching everyone else. Thanks for sharing your photos. It was an awesome thing.

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    • Amy, I didn’t even know about a NASA channel. I rarely turn on the TV when Mike is away (he had a 12 day business trip in the middle of the eclipse). I’ll know the next time. I’m sorry to hear about the rain storm. How ill-timed, eh.

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  13. Well, that’s a wrap hey? Awesome observations Alys! I took some photo’s of long shawdows and a couple of selfies thinking I’d get the sun’s image in my phone without looking at the sun. But that didn’t work. Interesting about the pumpkins flowers. Hey?! Are those bee’s in Morning Glories?

    I wasn’t able to get any eye glasses for the event so made a cereal box thingy. It didn’t work for me because of my wacko eyes. I think I told you, I’m a monofixator. 3d movies don’t work for me either, I see all the coloured lines 😦 It was fun to witness all the excitement though! Science is so cool.

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