Meet The Couple That Travels Around The World Together — Chasing Solar Eclipses

If you took a moment to look up at the solar eclipse yesterday (with safety glasses, we hope), then you know it's an experience like no other. Some called it breathtaking, others actually teared up at the moment of totality.
A solar eclipse (and especially seeing it at totality) is so awe-inspiring, in fact, that one couple has spent more than half of their 48-year marriage chasing the feeling again and again. Meet Sharon and Billy Hahs, who saw their first total eclipse in 1991 and have been traveling all over the world to experience the moment when the moon blocks the sun ever since. Before yesterday's eclipse, they'd been to 14 eclipses and actually experienced 11. That's relationship goals if we've ever seen them.

For the past 26 years, Sharon and Billy Hahs have traveled all over the world chasing solar eclipses, and have managed to catch 11 of them. "There's just nothing else in the universe like a total solar eclipse," says Sharon. "During totality, the air gets cool. You have a 360-degree dusk. And then all of the sudden it's over, until the next time. It's science and magic all turned together." The couple has seen eclipses in many different countries including Ethiopia, Australia, Zambia, and Norway. They've even stayed in tents in the Sahara Desert. But this year the Solar Eclipse came to them, right in their own backyard. That's right! Sharon and Billy Hahses family-owned farmhouse in Sedgewickville, Missouri landed in the path of totality for today's solar eclipse, and the couple invited about 60 of their friends and family over to view the scientific serendipity with them. The Hahses have a routine: Sharon takes about 25 photos to capture the full evolution (from the partial eclipse, to the corona, to the diamond ring effect) while Billy attempts to capture it through painting. "The thing that changes from one eclipse to the next is the size and shape of the corona and the exact flavor of blue that you got on that particular eclipse," Billy said. When asked which eclipse was their favorite? "All of them," they both replied. Billy thinks he might have a favorite after today though: "We didn't get to bring 60 people along on any of these others, and these are 60 people that we treasure and love."

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"I'm not a mystic at all," Billy Hahs said in a video from the BBC. "But it does have a kind of gripping effect." They call themselves "eclipse-afficiandos," Sharon Hahs said, and they do their best to capture each one they see. Sharon takes photos from the moment the moon first takes a bite out of the sun to totality to the last moment before the moon clears the sun and goes along in its orbit. But after their third eclipse, the couple realized that the sky isn't actually black like it shows up in everyone's photos. So to get a truly accurate representation of the moment, Billy also paints what he sees with a dark blue sky.
This year, the Hahs' were treated to a special eclipse because the path of totality actually passed over their own home in Missouri — no traveling required, and they were able to share the moment with 60 of their family and friends.
"All the family is coming and they will all get to know what we've been talking about for years," Sharon said in the BBC video. "'Oh yeah, they say it's great.' Well come see it for yourself, it really is great."
"Once it's over," Billy said, "someone is going to say, 'When is the next one?'" For Billy and Sharon Hahs, who we're sure aren't ready to retire their eclipse-viewing ways just yet, the next one will be in July of 2019 in Chile and Argentina.
But for those of us who aren't willing to travel outside of the U.S. to see this amazing celestial event, the next one isn't that far off. A total solar eclipse will pass through the U.S. again on April 18, 2024.
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