Chasing Totality: The Transcendent and Spiritual Experience of the Total Eclipse of 2024

by Theresa Hong

The Total Eclipse of 2024 was a truly life changing sight to behold, and I was fortunate enough to have planned for over a year to chase and photograph this incredible event. Originally set to fly to Austin, Texas, my plans were suddenly derailed due to bad weather forecasts in the area. Quickly rerouting to upstate New York, I found myself joined by fellow astronomer Bart Fried, Vice President of the Amateur Astronomers Association and Founder of the Antique Telescope Society, along with his wife Eva and my friend Julie Fabricant.


As the week leading up to the eclipse progressed, we found ourselves constantly monitoring the weather and making last-minute adjustments to our plans. The night before the eclipse as we rested at Julie’s fabulous house right by Lake George, we made the decision to wake up before dawn and assess the clouds, ultimately deciding to drive further north and east to avoid any potential obstructions.


Arriving at a rest stop in Saint Albans, Vermont on the morning of the eclipse, we were met with the sight of high clouds in the distance. I was obsessed with looking at the cloud and weather maps on my apps when Bart wisely pointed out that at some point we need to stop looking at our devices and just look up at the sky. You could see a wall of clouds slowly creeping in from the southwest direction. Logically our best decision was to drive further northeast together as far away from the wall of clouds as possible. We eventually made the decision to drive even further northeast to the small town of Richford, Vermont, just 4 minutes away from the Canadian border.


Setting up our equipment at a high school on a hill, we eagerly awaited the moment of totality. As first contact arrived, the excitement in the air was palpable, with the temperature dropping and the scene growing eerily darker like the Twilight Zone as the moon began taking a bite out of the sun to cover it up.


Finally, as totality settled in, we were treated to a dramatic and breathtaking flash of the diamond ring effect followed by the surreal corona flickering around the moon. Through BART’s antique telescope, we were able to witness the intricate details of the sunspots and electric pink prominences ejecting from the sun, creating a truly awe-inspiring sight.


Totality was a moment of pure magic, a transcendent and spiritual experience that left us all in absolute awe. As Totality settled in you could hear the entire town screaming and cheering with awe and wonder. And thanks to my year of planning and preparation, I was able to capture this incredible event through my photographs, immortalizing the beauty and wonder of the Total Eclipse of 2024.


It was truly the adventure of a lifetime chasing this eclipse. I probably drove over 9 hours that day but experiencing totality was totally worth it. As I look back on that day, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to witness such a rare and incredible astronomical Event. The memories and images captured during that eclipse will forever serve as a reminder of the awe-inspiring beauty of the universe, and the power of nature to leave us all breathless in its presence. 


Theresa Hong’s love for photography began at age 12 with her Pentax K1000, sparking a lifelong passion. Theresa honed her skills and gained experience in commercial photography, fashion, and advertising industries with her own successful retouching and post-production company. Now, Theresa is delving back into her childhood fascination with space and cosmos through astrophotography, blending her technical expertise with her creative eye to capture the beauty of the universe.