Totality Cool Dad

The solar eclipse yesterday was really cool for a lot of reasons, but my reason was that I got to be the coolest dad at my son’s elementary school.

It wasn’t in any official capacity. The eclipse would be happening for us in the northeastern U.S. around the time my son would be getting out of school, so I simply took it upon myself to bring my telescope to pickup. It’s a big and unwieldy dobsonian reflector, but I’ve had it for close to fifteen years and I’ve seen many wonders with it, so I chose to share that with my son and the kids at his school.

We may not have been in the path of totality where we are, but it was still impressive. The sun was covered to only about a sliver, making it appear like a crescent moon. The sunlight didn’t go totally nighttime-dark, but it dimmed just enough to seem like we were viewing everything through a filter, which was a bizarre experience.

But the coolest experience was the wonder of the kids.

Many of them had not seen a telescope of that size and structure before, so their choruses of “Whoa, what’s that?” was a primer for discovery. A line of kids chirping “Can I see?” or “Can I have a turn?” quickly formed, and one by one they gazed into the lens and expressed their wonder with the unrestrained enthusiasm that only belongs to children. Not only do I get a thrill from sharing things I enjoy with others, but when it triggers the infectious enthusiasm of kids it’s extra-special.

As cool as it was, it’s also a miracle my telescope came away undamaged. Some of the kids were a little too enthusiastic and leaned hard on its body, causing it to swivel away from the sun. A few other kids began curiously tapping on mirrors or trying to look down its front. My lens is also smeared with little kid cheek imprints. For all my happiness and willingness to share I also had to shoo a few kids away who were being a little too rough with my fifteen-year-old telescope. Overall everyone was respectful and well-behaved, though.

I delight in moments like this. I hope I get to do something like it again before the next eclipse in twenty-something years.