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Your Great American Eclipse Story

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#26 joaoba

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 09:28 AM

Plan A was to find an affordable camp spot in Eastern Idaho not far off I-15. Plan B was to drive down Monday morning and park on BLM land. Plan A worked out and we reserved a few spots in Farmer Joe's field near Terreton ID.

 

On Sunday we drove down with 3 campers, 15 people and 5 dogs for a night of camping and fun. The highlight of the evening was the impromptu archery contest. Monday morning brought beautiful clear skies for our moment of totality. I brought my ST-80 with a solar wedge, and was on the eyepiece for the final waning moments. We got to experience 2 minutes 17 seconds of totality.

 

The drive home was a little slow, as the first 10 miles took an hour, but once on I-15 it was smooth sailing back home. The 7-hour round-trip drive was well worth it for everyone, and we're already talking about 2024. I'll never forget seeing that corona around the sun, or the night hawks coming out in darkness.


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#27 dvwlker

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 09:58 AM

My employer requested that I (us) work from home on Monday due to media accounts of mass traffic jams, which of coarse turned out inaccurate in my area.   Last minute, decided to take an extended coffee break and quickly setup the rig for visual in the driveway just as moon began to transit.   Glad I did was a neat event even at 99.8% totality, especially as the shadow briefly blanketed my location and the streetlights turned on.

 

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quick pic using cell phone thru 25mm eyepiece for the memory banks

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#28 xrayvizhen

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 10:39 AM

It’s not all that often in one’s life when you get to experience something that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. The last time such a thing occurred to me was back in 1969 when I went to an Apollo launch from Cape Kennedy.  I was attending the U of Miami and on the spur of the moment, at 11:30 on a Friday night, a bunch of guys and I decided to jump in my Camaro and drive up and see the launch of Apollo 10 scheduled for 9am the next morning so at 3 in the morning we were barreling up the Sunshine State Parkway at 90 miles an hour. The sound and fury of the Saturn V was the most awe inspiring moment of my life that is until the Eclipse of August 21, 2017.

 

My planning for this was almost as negligible as that launch. I made a plane, car and hotel reservation for Nashville, figuring only that the Midwest in August could be stormy and the far west was, well, too far. My only other strategy decision was to find a hotel near the intersections of Routes 40 and 65 figuring that if clouds were in the forecast I would have a relatively easy way of going either north on 65 or east/west on 40 to try to find a clear patch of sky. I deliberately did no research and kept my gear light. No camera, other than cell phone, and just a pair of filtered binoculars. I didn’t want to be distracted from the event trying to take pictures.  I wanted to experience the eclipse with just my eyes and I didn’t want to obsess about the weather since there was nothing much I could do about it.

 

Arriving in Nashville the afternoon before, after checking in at the hotel, I headed north on 65, in the general direction of Gallatin, near the eclipse centerline, to reconnoiter. I had heard about Hopkinsville , KY but that would be a 90 minute drive west and I wanted to avoid the expected crowds there at all costs, anticipated to be around 100,000. I had a 6:30 flight the evening after the eclipse and didn’t want to have to fight traffic getting back to the airport.  While on Rt. 65, I realized at some point my phone was running out of juice and also realized at the same time I had forgotten to pack a car charger. Since I was using the phone for navigation I needed to stop and find something and happened upon a Walgreens in the town of Hendersonville, TN where I bought a USB lighter plug and cable for $5. Right across the street I noticed what appeared to be a perfectly lovely park.  Checking it out, I saw that it had free parking, shady trees, a lake, a large field with an unobstructed view of the sky and a spotlessly clean restroom. Looking at the eclipse map online, I saw that the length of totality here would be 2:33. Traveling another 30 miles north to the centerline would only net me another 8 seconds so I decided this is where I would hang out.

 

The next morning at 11, I first checked the weather. It was practically perfect.  I only noticed just a few puffy cumulus clouds off to the east and the forecast looked good.  I checked out of my hotel and returned to Memorial Park in Hendersonville. I found a shady parking location and spotted a park bench where I set up my tripod and binoculars which were fitted with a pair homemade filters based upon an ATM Workshop article from Sky & Telescope.  The park was filling rapidly but with minimal parking available, in reality, there was room for maybe only a couple of hundred people.  Pat and Scott, the town aldermen, were hosting an eclipse party under the pavilion near the dog park with free hotdogs and a kiddie-pool filled with ice and bottles of water. Perfect! (Check out the rain date on the poster).

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Other than the spectacle of the eclipse itself, what I noticed most were the sounds of the park around me. Before the eclipse started what I heard were…the sounds of the park; Children laughing and screaming and the general hubbub of people talking. Then at exactly 11:59 as the first little bit of the sun started to disappear, things very gradually got quieter and quieter. The children were still laughing and screaming, but the conversations all around me started to wane. As it progressed, even the children grew silent.

 

Throughout the morning I had noticed the cumulus clouds building along the horizon but moving in our direction so I began to get very nervous.  Five minutes before totality, a small cloud managed to insert itself between Hendersonville and the Sun at which point a collective loud groan could be heard from all. Miraculously, a hole in the cloud formed and maybe because of the noticeable cooling and gloaming of the light that was occurring, it essentially dissipated. One minute before totality it got really dark. A flock of butterflies suddenly flew out of a rose bush near where I was set up. I hadn’t even noticed them there. A couple of dogs howled.  A hush fell among the throng. When the sun winked out completely I could see Regulus just to the left and heard alternately, in quick succession, cheers, quiet and some actual applauding from the people around me.  I heard the sound of fireworks from the high school football field down the road. I leave it to some real writers to describe the eerie awesomeness of their feelings but once again, 48 years since that Saturn V launch, the hairs on the back of my neck and my arms stood straight out. I was overcome with emotion, but I really don’t know why.

 

The second half of the eclipse was anticlimactic. People started to leave the park. Even the aldermen’s eclipse party, which was supposed to go until 3pm, started to break up. I continued to view through my binoculars but decided, with a half hour to go, to start packing up and head for the airport. I think I’ve got the eclipse bug now and anticipating April 8, 2024, I’ll try to do a better job convincing my wife to come with me next time. A solar eclipse is something everyone must view with their own eyes at least once in their lifetime.  The weirdness of the light as it changes from bright to dim to not quite darkness, the crescent shadows projected through the leaves of the trees, the cooling temperature, and the sun when totally eclipsed, there but not there at the same time. Hair-raising.


Edited by xrayvizhen, 22 August 2017 - 06:43 PM.

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#29 lmwpearce

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 07:57 PM

Here's my experience, from Madras OR:

 

Fortunately, I have quite a few in-laws who live in/around Madras OR.  We were staying with my aunt-in-law, south of Madras, near Metolius.  On Sunday morning, since the traffic wasn't too bad, we went into Madras and walked around downtown.  Sunday afternoon, we set up the scope (Lunt LS 50) to make sure we hadn't forgotten anything, and to make sure everything survived the flight from MN ok.

 

The forecast looked promising as far as clouds, but smoke was an issue.  Saturday and Sunday was fine as far as smoke went, but woke up Monday morning to a definite haze, as smoke from the fire near Sisters was rolling in from the south.  The smoke was low, so I thought by 10 the sun would be above it, but I was feeling kind of nervous.  (And I swear every time I looked the smoke haze was higher!)  While we were eating breakfast a little before 8, my grandparents-in-law called to say their place (on a pretty high ridge north of Madras) was almost smoke free.  So, we jumped up and immediately loaded scope and everything into the car and drove off (leaving the milk on the table!)  We took some back farm roads over, but it looked like traffic through town was negligible.

 

We arrived at the grandparents' and set up the scope, with about 10 minutes to spare before the partial phase started.  Indeed, there was much less smoke at the grandparents'; they were above most of it, which was settled at low elevations.  There was still a little bit of haze to the east; looking westward was of course pretty bad (although we could see the base of Mount Jefferson).  There were also some small cumulus clouds low on the horizon, it seemed.  There were seven of us total, which was good number of people alternating between watching with glasses and looking through the scope.  I really enjoyed watching the moon "eat" the sunspots: there was a large set near the center of the sun, and then a few more on the limb, which disappeared shortly before totality. 

 

I realized when we got there that in the rush, I had left the binos back at the aunt's.  That actually didn't disappoint me too much; I had himmed and hawed about whether to even bring them, due primarily to the concern that everyone out of our group of seven would want a turn looking through them during totality, and some poor soul would still be looking through them when totality ended.  If I could do it again, I'd definitely grab the binos, and solve this problem by just not sharing them during totality. :-)  (Joking of course!  I would definitely share with all my kind in-laws, particularly any of you reading this post!)

 

I wear transition lenses and was really worried about them being dark for totality, so my solution was to buy UV-blocking sunglasses that went over my regular glasses, and tape my eclipse glasses to those.  For about the last five to ten minutes before totality, I was afraid to take those off, that my glasses would change.  So I watched the crescent become smaller and smaller through the glasses, and more than that, felt the air become much colder.  Around the edge of the glasses I could tell it was getting darker, and heard the birdsong changing.  As the crescent narrowed, I fretted about everything that could be going wrong: where was the smoke?  Was the sun above it?  Was the cold air making clouds?  Agonizing!  Finally that tiny sliver disappeared and I whipped my sunglasses with eclipse glasses off!

 

WOW!  Of course, the first thing I saw was the corona, and the dark hole in the sky it surrounded.  I guess I didn't expect where the moon was to be so dark compared to the rest of the sky.  It was kind of like how I imagine black holes, just a black spot with white light around it.  The corona was larger than I expected, and looked pretty white to me.  The tendrils going out were amazing, and it seemed kind of like a kid's star drawing: pointy, but not symmetrical.

 

After a bit, I remembered that I wanted to see what stars were visible.  At first I didn't even see Venus, but that was because it was behind a tree from where I was.  :-)  Moving a little bit showed Venus.  Jupiter was below the horizon for us in Madras.  Mercury was another goal of mine, down and to the left of the corona.  I definitely saw something there in averted vision!  Then I remembered that totality was brief, and went back to looking at the corona.  Our group was pretty quiet- a few wows, but nothing much.  My mother-in-law tried taking some pictures with her fancy camera, which didn't turn out half-bad, and my mother tried taking some through her phone, which didn't turn out at all.  Me?  I had no intention of taking photos (and hadn't planned on taking any), just to absorb the moment.  I had hoped to see where the flares were- which we knew in advance thanks to the LS 50- but didn't see them with my naked eye.  (Or maybe was too impressed with the corona to notice them!)

 

I had hoped to see Bailey's bead and the diamond ring at the end of totality, but my experience was that it ended so quick, and the sun became so bright, that I immediately looked away (good for the retinas as well).  I saw something ring like, but no bead-like structures.  I was hoping to watch the shadow run away after the eclipse- I didn't see it approach because I was afraid of my lenses changing.  I was hopeful because we were on a ridge with a nice view of Madras down below, but no luck.  Maybe I was too slow to look, although I did see the land down below becoming brighter.  (In retrospect, maybe it was hard to see the difference between the shadow moving away and everything becoming brighter as the sun came out.)

 

My husband started a timer at the end of totality, so using the numbers from the FiveThirtyEight article, we knew when it was as bright as on Pluto, Saturn, and Mars.  (That's for before the eclipse, but we switched it around and used the times for afterwards.)  Most other folks drank a corona (beer) to celebrate, but I'm not a beer drinker, so I just watched the partial phase as the sun came back out.  I was amazed- and disappointed- by the immediate traffic jam that developed not five minutes after the end of totality.  (From the ridge we could see 97.)  I watched several sunspots re-appear in the telescope, which was fun (and oddly reassuring).  Then we ate lunch and took the back roads back to the aunt's.

 

All-in-all, an amazing event!  Now if only I had in-laws living in the 2024 path... :-)


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#30 Venetia2004

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 08:16 PM

Me and my wife picked the Mann Creek campground ,a little up North from Weiser , ID. As soon as we arrived( two days before the eclipse) we were told by the people we met there  that the site was normally open for "day use only" but the Forest Service and the local Sheriff's Office decided to keep it open during the night for this event.

Really, those people need a commendation for the care they showed  for  everyone on that site;the place was maintained spotless and  Sheriff's people constantly patrolling in order to assist everybody with everything they could. We were really impressed with that.On top of it, it did not cost us a dime, it was free access.

A day before the eclipse it was cloudy but the eclipse day the sky was just spotless!  Temperature started dropping as the moon was blocking the sun  and it was sensibly lower  during the totality, we spotted Venus towards the south, not too far away from  to the sun, crickets started their "symphony" as usual before night fall and my dog did not want to get off the car.

It was our first time observing the totality and also being able to take some pics of this amazing event...

 

Vic

Lynnwood, WA

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Edited by Venetia2004, 22 August 2017 - 11:31 PM.

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#31 Venetia2004

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 08:20 PM

One more...

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#32 SteveRosenow

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 10:26 PM

Here's my 'Great American Eclipse' story. :)

On Thursday of last week, my wife and I suggested we leave early due to traffic concerns, so I managed to find a coworker to take my shift for me on Friday so we could do it. When I got home from work at 4:30 that night, we began packing up and had everything loaded by 5:30. A quick stop by my work was had to pick up a few supplies for the trip (TP, a portable commode, etc) and we made our trek towards Madras at 7:30 that night. 

We arrived in downtown Madras at 1:45 Friday morning and had a quick persual of the town layout before we found a Safeway parking lot downtown, where we camped in our Ford Explorer for the night. By that time, we were well exhausted from the drive and the fact that I didn't sleep well the night before. 

At around 8:30AM, we awoke early and made our way out to where our planned viewing/imaging site was. As we set out, we passed the offices of the Crooked River National Grasslands and local Chamber of Commerce (all in the same building) a few blocks away and were surprised to find that they were open well in advance of normal business hours. There, we met a wonderful official with the Chamber of Commerce who informed us that the guy in charge of the BLM lands in the area was on his way into the office. 

Upon his arrival, we discussed several large map displays on the wall and the best way to reach our planned observing/imaging site(s) and at that point, we were handed large folding maps with all BLM lands in the Prineville district. After about an hour and a half of discussing maps, routes, and formulating an attack plan, we set out and after about 20 minutes, arrived at our first site, which was behind a private farm. After not having luck with our planned site, we set off towards an alternative site a few miles away. 

When we arrived at the second site, we were alarmed by a high amount of wild coyote the further we got in, so we sat and waited until we decided what to do next. When we were doing that, a guy and his wife arrived in a large truck and threatened to call the cops on us for being on his land - a claim he made that went against the GPS overlay on the BLM map overlay I had on my phone's Public Lands app. After going back and forth (and his refusal to acknowledge that we weren't from the area), we left towards the office downtown where we brought attention to the issue. When that was all said and done, we went up to the free Day Parking area at the Solar Town campground across from the airport on Highway 26 just north of town, and napped until late afternoon when we went back to the BLM land office and were informed of a much better prospect - a spot of land just south of the Deer Creek Correctional Facility.

Upon our arrival, we immediately began setting up camp (tent, etc) even though only five hundred feet away from us, was a 2,000-pound bull that looked quite menacing. The next morning, after our first night of good sleep we awoke to find our cooler had started running low on ice. We decided it was time to get another couple bags of ice, and seeing as how I won't leave a tent unattended, we began breaking it down and packing it back in. While I was deflating our airbed, the bull that was grazing nearby the night before started rushing our tent site. At that point, my wife and I shoved the partially-deflated airbed and half-dismantled tent in our SUV and sped off towards the BLM office for our last visit. While we were there, I looked up what would become our next (and ultimately, final and best) viewing location.

After getting the last two bags of ice, some more granola bars, we made our way back out to the spot we agreed upon was the last site we'd select. Upon our arrival, we quickly discovered that it was by far, one of the best locations to observe the eclipse and one of the best in which to experience it. It was on a ridge overlooking the correctional facility we were south of, the previous night (our last spot was also clearly visible in binoculars), and when we arrived there were only three other people present - a man in his 30s who looked like the typical California surfer (although he lived in Victoria, BC) and then a couple from Vancouver, BC who arrived in a heavily-modified custom RV with large oversized offroad tires. Once we selected our site, we then proceeded to set up, take a nap, and then I began setting up my telescopes. 

The day before the eclipse, some friends of mine (one from California, the other from Snohomish, WA, and then someone I went to high school with) showed up, and then others began showing up soon after. By nightfall, we had approximately 25 people on our little ridgetop viewpoint. At nightfall the night before the eclipse, we had an impromptu star party with the telescopes of a friend of mine, in addition to my own telescopes I had. 

Eclipse day for me and my wife began early, at 6:30AM. After beginning some testing on DigicamControl (and discovering that my scripts wouldn't work), I executed a capture plan that would automatically capture photos using the UI, at five-second intervals during the partial phases, at which point I'd kick over to manual exposures during totality. Afterwards, it'd be back to the five-shot-per-second routine until C4 at 11:41.

The experience of the eclipse was awesome. It is indescribable in its awe. Seeing the umbra arrive at Mount Jefferson 20 seconds before us, was awe inspiring and humbling, even more so was seeing Mount Hood to the north of us still basking in dim sunlight. 

Even more awe inspiring, was the temperature drop. Where we were, temperatures dropped 25 degrees within a very short time, and everything got eerie quiet. You could hear the whoops and hollering from a few people off in the distance down at the bottom of our ridge, but in all, it was eerie quiet where we were. 




 


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#33 Myles

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 11:09 PM

Wow - truly amazing experience - I was stunned by the surealness and beauty.

Great stories and pictures everyone - congratulations on seeing it.

We had to adjust as Camp Sherman in the mountains west of Madras, Oregon was in the smoke when we arrived Sunday at 2pm.  I made a recon trip into Madras (1.5 hours one way with eclipse traffic) trying to gage whether we could get there in the morning, find parking on a residential street and access to shade and porta-potties.

Had to weigh that against weather reports for Albany, Oregon in the west on I5 interstate 50 miles inland from the Oregon coast where we my wife had reached out to old friend she hasn't seen in 10 years Saturday night via Facebook - they share semi-regularly via Facebook, but it had been 10 years since they visited in Seattle and we had never made it to Albany before.

Made decision after returning from Madras recon to go to Albany - best decision ever.  Left Camp Sherman at 4 am Monday - arrived at Albany Home Depot at 7am for bathroom break then on to our friends at 8am.  It was really great - they were so excited to have us and share the evert and reconnect - how awesome is that.

 

Totality was amazing - my wife and daughters loved it - I was totally headless - forgot to look with my binos, forgot to look for shadow bands, forgot to notice birds go quite, didn't notice the bats come out.  But did stare at the corona the whole time except for a short sweep of the horizon colors.  The corona shocked me - and seeing the prominence at the 3-clock was really exciting. Kept glasses off until just after the start of the 2nd diamond ring (didn't take them off at the beginning until app directed me to).  My girls took iPhone pictures - simply but nice for the memory of it.

As you who saw it know - it was incredible and will be memorable for a lifetime.

 

Left Albany for Seattle at 3pm Monday - ugg - got home Tuesday at 6am - took 90 minutes sleep break at rest stop south of Olympia.  The rest stops were quite amazing themselves - I starting thinking about it between stops and felt the whole 15 hour 245 mile drive home added to the experience.  Seeing the seriously overflowing rest stops, cars lined up before and past the driveways knowing that 95% of the travels were from this "eclipse" tribe connected by our experience at 10:20 am turned out to be really cool.

- Myles

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#34 leonidman63

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 12:48 AM

We visited Carbondale, IL SIU stadium are and at a last minute decision. Right before (about 10 minutes) it clouded over badly where the Sun was not visible. At totality it cleared to show the corona, 2:40 seconds of darkness. Later I went to view a lecture by Dr. Michio Kaku at the Southeast Missouri State University.

A truly memorable day x2.

Image taken with a handheld Canon A60 PowerShot, gotta use what I got !

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#35 Cajundaddy

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 01:22 AM

An epic adventure with my wife, brother and his wife, daughter #2, grandson Ian, and 2 dogs!

 

We originally looked at Madras back in Jan. but decided it was WAY too popular already.  We headed to Caldwell ID instead and stayed there Fri/Sat while doing final site recon.  We found a nice school in Weiser ID with a grassy field and RV sites still available so we headed there Sunday afternoon.  At 1pm Sunday there was zero traffic going into Weiser but once there it was clear that a lot of folks would join us as the weather/wildfire situation looked ideal.  The locals were very friendly and helpful and we had a good group near us including film AP veterans Bill and Sally Fletcher in the site next to ours.  http://www.sciencean...otographers.htm

The eclipse event was awesome with clear blue skies that did not disappoint.  Getting out afterwards was busy but no different than leaving a typical Dodger game in LA.  We were tied up for about 30 minutes as all cars headed for 2 highway ramps but once on the highway it was busy but flowing at the speed limit most of the way.  We looked like a giant parade of eclipse geeks for 4 hours all the way down 95 to Winnemucca NV. where the highways split off in 3 directions and traffic effectively died out. 

All-in we dedicated 5 days, 1700 miles, and around $600 travel expenses for the two minute show.  Was it worth it?  Yes it was!

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#36 Tim in GA

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 08:20 AM

I started planning many months in advance but not enough to get a close hotel room to Hopkinsville, KY. I got a hotel room for the night before in Elizabethtown, about 2 hours away. We left Ohio Sunday afternoon and encountered a major traffic jam in Cincinnati but otherwise a pleasant drive to Kentucky. Even in Elizabethtown there were people everywhere and every hotel, gas station, and restaurant was packed. I expected major traffic that morning but during the 2-hour drive to Hopkinsville I encountered very few cars on the road. I had a reserved spot at Ruff Park and got right in with no delays. By 7AM we had everything set up on our spot and the waiting began. Cars streamed in sporadically throughout the morning but there were never any major backups. We could have slept in a little later, but it probably would not have mattered as I was awake at 1:30AM. 

 

As we got close to first contact I made sure everything was ready. I got my focus dialed in on the sunspots and was ready. My main camera was automated so all I had to do was keep the sun roughly centered. I was wishing I had a tracking mount so I could just leave it alone and enjoy the eclipse. But it wasn't too hard to keep making minor adjustments. As the sun was getting past the 50% eclipsed point you could sense some dimming of the light. As it progressed it got much more noticeable and you could feel the temperature dropping. Past the 95% eclipse point the light began to take on a very weird color. Almost seemed artificial, like a cold fluorescent light bulb. The western horizon began to darken. When totality began my jaw dropped and I think it stayed that way the entire duration! The sight was unreal, my hands were shaking. My wife & I just held each other and watched. The crowd reaction was great, everyone cheering and clapping. Flocks of birds suddenly appeared. The entire experience of totality is hard to describe. Creepy, eerie, surreal are not enough to define the feeling. 

 

We packed up after totality and began the drive home. Getting out of Hopkinsville wasn't too bad - the Waze app guided me around some back streets and we were out to the main highway in no time at all. At first traffic moved quickly but a few minutes later the nightmare began. Hours of inching along, sometimes a dead stop for no reason. We got off and tried some smaller highways for a while. It took over 6 hours to get to Elizabethtown. We got on I-65 and traffic moved well until we got on I-71 on the other side of Louisville. Traffic stopped again so we tried the back roads and stayed on them all the way to Cincinnati. There were a couple of minor slowdowns past Cinci but we moved at normal highway speeds the rest of the way. 14 hours later we arrive home. We got to bed by 5:30AM Tuesday morning. 


Edited by Tim in GA, 23 August 2017 - 08:21 AM.

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#37 Tom Laskowski

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 10:19 AM

I hope all of you had great views. We almost missed totality at our location east of Marion, IL. As the day heated up so did the cumulus clouds until after the eclipse began. By about 20 minutes before totality the clouds were disappearing, except for one large cloud which was slowly approaching the sun.

 

It was very obvious that the timing of this cloud was going to be a disaster for us but fortunately only the northern edge of the cloud was going to block the sun. We all jumped into our cars and headed to a spot about 2 miles to our southwest.

 

Our location near Marion was far enough from "ground zero" of Carbondale, IL which is where most people were. We had no trouble with traffic at all. We found a spot where the already totally eclipsed sun had emerged from the cloud and we got about 2 minutes of totality. So we only missed second contact.

 

Totality was beautiful. I was stunned by how surreal it was. I saw no shadow bands and only observed Venus and Regulus during totality. I also noted the 360 degree sunset and a prominence just before third contact. I watched the shadow retreat to our southeast after third contact. That was another wow moment.

 

I'm home now and I'm happy I got to see it and now I have 7 years to plan for the next one. Fortunately our location in Marion lies even closer to the centerline of the 2024 eclipse. But so does much of my home state of Indiana experience totality so I won't have to travel too far.


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#38 Marsie Comet

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 02:42 PM

This was my first total solar eclipse.  Years ago I had only half payed attention to a partial solar eclipse - we viewed through a home made pin hole camera at work.  While that experience was neat, I just couldn’t understand all the excitement about this thing called totality.  So my planning for this eclipse started rather late and haphazardly in May of this year with the intent to keep any viewing plans small and easy.  We would drive from Chapel Hill, NC to a friend’s house in Clover, SC and then head to the path of totality in SC.  I selected Greer SC, a small quaint town between Greenville and Spartanburg SC.   It is just a short drive south (1hr and 10min) down I-85 from our friend’s home.  There is a lovely little city park in Greer that looked to be perfect for viewing the eclipse.  At the time I selected Greer there was no official posting of an eclipse event so it seemed an ideal place to head to in the hopes of avoiding huge crowds (note I didn’t take into account the I-85 corridor traffic to Greenville….).  Later an event was planned at the city park but it appeared to be more of a small town local event - which would be perfect.  And perfect it was!  Families and friends spending time with each other and sharing a unique event as a community.  Lots of harmony and joy in the crowd.  True to the original intent of keeping things easy we packed deli sandwiches, chips and drinks, and carried only eclipse glasses and small binoculars for viewing during totality.  Seeing the first chunk carved out of the sun - exciting.  Watching the crescent moons sparkle in the dappled sunlight through the tree leaves - fun.   We missed the shadow bands but didn’t really have any light colored space to view them on.  As the eclipse progressed, it was thrilling to experience the drop in temperature and to see the darkness which crept in as the sun shrunk to a crescent.  It was surreal to see how the tint changed from the usual orangey glow to a bluish glow - almost like we were on movie film and someone was tinting our world blue as time went on.  Seeing all the street lights and tiny twinkle bulbs on businesses come on those few seconds before totality - wild.  Seeing the dark shadow approach from the west and the twilight sunset appearance of the sky - powerful.  Seeing Bailey’s beads and the diamond ring - breathtaking.  And then the corona and deep crimson red solar prominences with and without binoculars - simply inspiring; words cannot express what it was like to see that.  While others have said how fast totality goes, I found things to slow down - like time had expanded.  There we were communing with one of the greatest spectacles in the universe.  While we only had about 1.5 minutes of totality in Greer it felt like a life time of wondrous viewing.  All now etched in my memory banks along with a couple of scratched out sketches.   I totally get the ‘hype’ about totality now.  Already making plans to head to Indianapolis for the 2024 eclipse to share the experience with my family!

 

Biggest drag of the day…..  the drive home!  3.5hrs for what should normally be a little over 1hr.   We all kept our good humor up but sure were darn glad to get back to our friend’s home.

 

Most rewarding thing of the day…  I had 3 extra pairs of the paper glasses that came with the plastic glasses which we had purchased.  Wasn’t sure why I carried those 3 extra pairs with me, but they didn’t take up much space so why not.  There was a small family - mom and her two 9 or 10yr old sons - sharing the shady spot under the tree with us.  I noticed they had no eclipse glasses and were just viewing through a cereal box pin hole camera.  I quickly reached into my backpack and offered my 3 pair of glasses to them.   Cost to me - negligible.  Look on their faces when they took their first real view of the eclipse - priceless.

 

Happy viewing all!


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#39 Tim in GA

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 02:51 PM

This was my first total solar eclipse.  Years ago I had only half payed attention to a partial solar eclipse - we viewed through a home made pin hole camera at work.  While that experience was neat, I just couldn’t understand all the excitement about this thing called totality.  So my planning for this eclipse started rather late and haphazardly in May of this year with the intent to keep any viewing plans small and easy.  We would drive from Chapel Hill, NC to a friend’s house in Clover, SC and then head to the path of totality in SC.  I selected Greer SC, a small quaint town between Greenville and Spartanburg SC.   It is just a short drive south (1hr and 10min) down I-85 from our friend’s home.  There is a lovely little city park in Greer that looked to be perfect for viewing the eclipse.  At the time I selected Greer there was no official posting of an eclipse event so it seemed an ideal place to head to in the hopes of avoiding huge crowds (note I didn’t take into account the I-85 corridor traffic to Greenville….).  Later an event was planned at the city park but it appeared to be more of a small town local event - which would be perfect.  And perfect it was!  Families and friends spending time with each other and sharing a unique event as a community.  Lots of harmony and joy in the crowd.  True to the original intent of keeping things easy we packed deli sandwiches, chips and drinks, and carried only eclipse glasses and small binoculars for viewing during totality.  Seeing the first chunk carved out of the sun - exciting.  Watching the crescent moons sparkle in the dappled sunlight through the tree leaves - fun.   We missed the shadow bands but didn’t really have any light colored space to view them on.  As the eclipse progressed, it was thrilling to experience the drop in temperature and to see the darkness which crept in as the sun shrunk to a crescent.  It was surreal to see how the tint changed from the usual orangey glow to a bluish glow - almost like we were on movie film and someone was tinting our world blue as time went on.  Seeing all the street lights and tiny twinkle bulbs on businesses come on those few seconds before totality - wild.  Seeing the dark shadow approach from the west and the twilight sunset appearance of the sky - powerful.  Seeing Bailey’s beads and the diamond ring - breathtaking.  And then the corona and deep crimson red solar prominences with and without binoculars - simply inspiring; words cannot express what it was like to see that.  While others have said how fast totality goes, I found things to slow down - like time had expanded.  There we were communing with one of the greatest spectacles in the universe.  While we only had about 1.5 minutes of totality in Greer it felt like a life time of wondrous viewing.  All now etched in my memory banks along with a couple of scratched out sketches.   I totally get the ‘hype’ about totality now.  Already making plans to head to Indianapolis for the 2024 eclipse to share the experience with my family!

 

Biggest drag of the day…..  the drive home!  3.5hrs for what should normally be a little over 1hr.   We all kept our good humor up but sure were darn glad to get back to our friend’s home.

 

Most rewarding thing of the day…  I had 3 extra pairs of the paper glasses that came with the plastic glasses which we had purchased.  Wasn’t sure why I carried those 3 extra pairs with me, but they didn’t take up much space so why not.  There was a small family - mom and her two 9 or 10yr old sons - sharing the shady spot under the tree with us.  I noticed they had no eclipse glasses and were just viewing through a cereal box pin hole camera.  I quickly reached into my backpack and offered my 3 pair of glasses to them.   Cost to me - negligible.  Look on their faces when they took their first real view of the eclipse - priceless.

 

Happy viewing all!

Great story! You're the first person online that I seen who mentioned that bluish light before totality. It was so weird, so artificial looking. I've been looking for an explanation but haven't come across anything yet.


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#40 trurl

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 03:30 PM

My wife grew up in Fayetteville, NC, a mid-life surprise for her parents. When she was 9, she watched the total eclipse with her father. He told her that on the next one she would be as old as he was. She couldn't imagine being that old.

 

Last year she asked me about the upcoming eclipse. I had already bought a book about it and showed it to her. She immediately went into trip planning mode.

 

We didn't really have a plan B. We just decided to play the odds, pay the money, and enjoy whatever travel adventure happened. We flew from Raleigh to Denver, drove to Casper, enjoyed their eclipse festival that weekend. On the day, we had reservations to watch the eclipse from a ranch looking toward Casper Mountain.

 

It couldn't have turned out better. We even surprised ourselves by getting some decent photos, me at the telescope and her with a wide-angle lens. I know the advice was to skip the equipment and just watch, and we definitely did watch. But I'm glad we got photos to remember this trip by.

 

Even the 11-hour traffic jam returning to Denver didn't curb our enthusiasm. We are already talking about 2024.


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#41 Marsie Comet

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 04:41 PM

Hi Tim in GA.  It really did make everything look artificial, didn't it?!  Was pretty awesome.  I was guessing that the color shift from orange to blue might have had something to do with the diminished light rays from the sun and that those few rays were bouncing around and refracting on our atmosphere such that just the ones in the blue range were coming through?   But hey, I am a clinical researcher and not a physicist or optical person.  So totally guessing here!  

 

p.s., love your signature line.  'There are some who call me...........Tim'.  Awesome line and awesome movie!


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#42 calerner

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 05:59 PM

I drove about 250 miles to Bowling Green KY with my wife and two of my three grown children.  It was a great day.  Hot, but not a cloud in the sky during the eclipse.

 

I projected the eclipse with a 3" open refractor which worked out well.  There was a lot of interest in the set-up by the crowd.  I think many people liked it because it was the only good way for them to take a reasonable picture of the partial phases (that's the case for me, also). 

 

We had some traffic going down and lots coming home, but surprisingly that added something for me - made it more of a significant event and somehow fun realizing that I knew that so many other people in the traffic were going to/coming from the same thing as us.

 

My third child drove from her home in GA about 2 hours to totality and we shared experiences by texting.  I didn't know how much she was into it and was very happy to hear how interested she was.  Her friends bought counterfeit glasses which she didn't learn about until last week and she was willing to spend $140 for 10 pair from Amazon at the last minute to be sure she got official ones in time.

 

The whole day - the planning, the weather checking, the packing the car with equipment, chairs, food, etc; the drive with traffic; and obviously the eclipse itself and all spent with my family (live and virtual)- was really one of the best days I've had.

 

Charles

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#43 Xaqsi

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 06:07 PM

I was lucky enough to be in the path of totality here in central Nebraska, and fortunate enough to get the day off from work. I had decided relatively last minute to try and catch a sequence of automated images during totality so that I could actually ENJOY my first total eclipse while getting some photos. I've just upgraded my gear since I plan to actually try my hand at astrophotography starting this fall. It was a fast and sometimes frantic learning experience since I had barely used any of the equipment let alone tried to track and image with it. I stayed home for eclipse day and shared the experience with family and neighbors. In summary it was quiet and truly awe inspiring day.

 

 

As for the imaging, everything went smoothly during the partial phase as I was simply using the intervalometer and ensuring tracking was adequate. I used BYEOS to create a simple script of 34 images beginning with C2 -5.5sec, and used a pocket voice recorder to playback a pre-recorded countdown script of the two minute prep launching the script. All that worked flawlessly until... Just as I unplugged the intervalometer and plugged in the USB, I noticed the framing was suddenly all wrong and the final crest of the sun was barely in frame. With only seconds to imaging I nudged the sun as much as I could to at least get it off the edge of the frame and lept to the PC to image. With relief it began perfectly on time. I looked up to see the beauty of the diamond ring etc, only to hear an error type tone come from the laptop. Glancing down I saw that BYEOS had failed/crashed somehow. With out actually reading the error message, I disconnected the camera, reconnected and loaded the script and hit image. That was it. That was the allotted time I gave myself to tinker with anything during totality-- 5 seconds. Fingers crossed I enjoyed the spectacle, oohing and awwing all the while. As the sun began its return, I almost forgot I was attempting to collect images. I didn't care. But I did get some usable images. The timing was all wrong, and the focus not quite right. But as a first pass at astro imaging, I'll take it. (Totality image: ISO 100, f6, 1/2000, 1/500, 1/125, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4) (Prominences ISO 100, f6, 1/4000.) I do hope I've compressed these appropriately, and they don't look crap. After all this is all new to me.

 

Attached File  TSE2017RAWCOMP.jpg   42.22KB   4 downloads

Attached File  TSE2017-Prominence-Detail.jpg   33.79KB   4 downloads

 


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#44 AUricle

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 06:15 PM

It was the Best of Times. It was the Worst of Times.....

 

**WARNING**
This will NOT be another gushing success story. In fact, it is a counterbalance to the flood of wonderful eclipse accounts here and on every astro-forum, and I'm elated to see so many of the CN community's successes.
     I'm still trying to digest all that happened at our viewing site near Rocheport, MO. I've got such a mixed bag of feelings about what took place, I just gotta' share it.

      I'll get the worst news out of the way post-haste. My imaging dreams,..... all the prep,.... all the work,..... all the days of practice, went for naught. Oh, the equipment worked just fine. But I almost have nothing to show for it except for some of my longest exposures.....and those are blurred by a high cloudy veil that thickened as totality drew close. I'm guessing severe underexposure due to the cirrus canopy. I'll be analyzing that 'til the cows come home.gaah.gif 
      I also made some pretty dumb mistakes, one of which could've been disastrous, saved by my eldest son Chuck's eagle eye. At one point, after a brief power outage, I had accidentally flipped the switch on my drive from N to S,  foreheadslap.gif sending the tracking wildly out of whack. I still don't know how I did that......I've NEVER done that! There were other, smaller gaffs too, but they hardly matter now.  

      

  Now aside from those disasters, we were 10 miles west of Columbia, MO. We were guests among a group of about 20 friends and family. The setting was beautiful. A 28 acre property, right between I-70 and the Missouri River, and just up the road from the biggest, oldest oak tree in Missouri.
    The highest spot, and best vantage point, was a 5 acre piece of manicured, soft grassland, loosely ringed by well spaced oaks,which ran along a great arc of driveway stone that ended in a teardrop shaped 'circle' in front of the property residence.
    This high spot left great horizon views N, E, and W, and only slightly obstructed views to the south, where, 50 yards from the area I was setting up, the grass suddenly sloped steeply southward to a large rock-rimmed pond, a jewel in the center of the property, and near the edge of a more densely forested area. An honest-to-God true “ol' swimmin' hole”. To the west of the pond , up the slope was our host's beautiful, naturally shaded home.
So let's get to the REALLY crazy stuff.....
     OK. So as you all already know, all the other 'players',.... the Sun, Moon, and Earth played their parts perfectly.
     Visually, we all had some nice views of most of the C1-C2 phase through my 9x60 finder, Chuck's Nexstar C5 and a cornucopia of  filtered binoculars
The only thing is that for us on the ground,...in this exact spot,... as we got within 15% of totality, the high white cirrus layer became thicker,  robbing the Sun of it's ability to produce shadows.
As totality drew near my laptop spat it's scripted voice prompts “10 minutes to go”. Low, dark clouds gathered, seemingly drawn to the Sun like iron filings to a magnet.
    The ground grew dimmer and dimmer. The horizons N, S, and W horizons took on a peach/pink color, while it was decidedly yellow to the East.
    The temperature drop was most startling of all. What was a hot and muggy day, felt suddenly, easily, 15... maybe even 20 degrees cooler, and a strong breeze accompanied the cooling, exaggerating it's effect even more. Refreshing actually. Someone said “chilly”.
    I was waiting for the dark ominous cloud blotting out the Sun to dump a torrent of rain on us at any moment, as a final insult...........but it never happened. Totality had begun....
Everyone strained skyward, hoping, praying, trying by sheer force of will to move or part the gray blob that swallowed the star of our show. No one spoke,  except the cicada's who chirped their dusk song.
     
      In that darkness, there was no warning for what happened next. Had we not all been looking up where the Sun should have been, we'd have missed it.
      Staring down at us, suddenly, like some flying cyclops was this eyeball in the sky, still dressed in a cirrus shroud, a silvered circle of 'blackness' rimmed by a somewhat asymmetrical soft white corona which glowed eerily outward about a solar radii on either side. Among the group,  my youngest son's voice was the first to blast out a cheer. Without even thinking, I felt both of my fists shoot skyward, and some primal sound from deep within issued from my gaping mouth. For what seemed no more than 6-7 seconds, I heard various shouts, squeals, and gasps from the group. I stopped breathing....
      It was as if our collective pleadings were suddenly answered by some force greater than any of us could fathom. By the clock, it was mid-totality.
…..and then, just as startlingly, it was gone again.
We could see the edge of the dark cloud, and everyone knew we were racing the clock to get the Sun into a more substantial opening.....but it was not to be.....except for one brief, glorious moment, when we all saw for just an instant, the diamond ring burst forth from the edge of the cloud. Everyone was still 'naked-eye' and I hope no one stared for more than an instant. I doubt they did, because, maybe due to our night-adapting pupils, that light was the most brilliant white light I've ever seen. EVER!  Everyone whooped again at the sight of the Moon initiating it's departure.
     And then, as had happened as we approached totality, the weather began almost instantly to reverse itself. The dark low clouds seemed to just melt, patches of blue began to pierce the high cirrus, and before we were 20 minutes on the other side of totality, the Sun was blazing hot, the oppressive humidity hung like liquid air around us, and the wind which had gone from zero to an estimated persistent 10-15mph, disappeared with stunning quickness. It was the damnedest thing I've ever witnessed, and there is no doubt in my mind that it was all a direct result of the effects of the shadow, both coming and going.
     I have to add something in here,.......an unexpected joy I experienced.
I guess because of the gear I and my eldest son had set up, we were sought out by other guests, as astro / eclipse 'experts', and peppered with a myriad of questions. Totally unexpected. Totally enjoyable too! rofl2.gif  Someone even addressed me as “professor”......I'm still laughing.

   It's really amazing how this one event sparks such curiosity even in 'old' people.....like me! It made me realize that it's not enough to accumulate these meager crumbs of knowledge. The reward is in sharing them with others!!

      I digress........ 
       So profound was the weather change, that as an example...after enjoying some ice cold adult beverages and some great BBQ and smoked veggies provided by our gracious hosts, I went back out to the viewing field to break down my gear. 
This was when I realized that in my anxiety over what I just knew was happening with my imaging, I'd completely forgotten to start my Cybershot which was in movie mode to capture the general scene and people, bangbang.gif ......the hit's just keep on comin'********I'm still kicking myself for not delegating that task to a leveler head.....

    Anyway, by the time I was halfway done, I was panting, and a bath of sweat. I literally stumbled my way back to the RV we'd rented and collapsed inside in the air conditioning.
      My youngest son Michael and his girlfriend Ariella saw this, and gratefully they finished the task and packed it all away for the trip back to the Chicago area. I want to thank them too, for their unabashed enthusiasm for the brief show we got of totality. Chuck and I had shared that “what new” 'look'.....you know the one......that hobbyists  give each other when yet another astro-event gets clouded out?
Well, Mike and Arie made us both realize that we actually escaped that fate.....not by much, but hey, we really did get to see it! And that buoyed my spirits immeasurably.

     The return trip was arduous with all the traffic, especially when we met up with the throng returning north from Carbondale and beyond. What was a 5hr 40 min trip down turned to an 8hr 20 min return ordeal. The last 30 miles were punctuated by a literal deluge of driving rain, which I swear never let up even one iota, until well after we'd pulled into the garage. My bride of 45 years, Cathie, handled the drive home like a champ, even through that storm , and I'll be forever grateful to her for all her assistance and encouragement through out the trip planning and execution.
     I have to say though, that for all the disappointments, my spirits are actually pretty high. So many interesting things happened, I'll never forget this.
     It has served to do one thing. That 'teaser', that brief taste of totality, has stamped a bulls-eye on the map AND the calendar. I, and my family are determined to be there April 8th, 2024.
                                                                         THE
                                                                  BEGINNING


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#45 ForgottenMObject

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 06:17 PM

I went as part of a guided tour through Collette, and it was well worth the money. I flew out to Denver on Friday, August 18th, and joined about 200+ other eclipse seekers on this adventure. We spent that day exploring the city on our own - they have a very nice art museum, and plenty of restaurants nearby.

 

Saturday, we visited Rocky Mountain National Park, and that alone would have been worth the trip. I've never seen the Rockies, or really any mountains over about 6,000 feet in Appalachia. This was another world - one of vast peaks, cold alpine lakes, and endless mixes of aspens and evergreens. It was beautiful! We drove through part of the park, stopping at various scenic overlooks along the way, until we reached the Alpine Visitor's Center at about 12,000 feet. There, we were above the treeline and the view seemed to go on forever in all directions. It was sunny, but cold with a breeze from the last ice age. Stunningly beautiful!

 

After lunch in Estes Park, we headed back. Late that afternoon into the evening, we attended specially scheduled sessions at the Fiske Planetarium, including a planetarium show on solar flares and some "science on a sphere."

 

The next day, we drove to Cheyenne, WY, and received a tour of that town before eating lunch. Dinner that night covered all the eclipse details: safety, etc.

 

Monday, we started our trek at 5 AM to Glendo, WY, a small town of 200 people directly in the eclipse path. We made it, eventually, and set up in a school field for the eclipse. The weather was perfect, and we had a catering trunk for lunch and port-o-potties, too.

 

The changes during most of the partial phases were very subtle; slightly dimmer light, shadows that were oddly dark and high contrast. At around 5 to 10 minutes before totality began, the changes became far more rapid and obvious. The Sky and Telescope director called out that the shadow was approaching and we should turn around away from the sun. And there it was, rolling across the open plains at an impossible speed. It came upon us so fast - a wall of infinite twilight stretching in all directions - darker than the darkest thunderstorm and utterly silent and featureless. Temperatures were falling fast and the wind had picked up as a strange sunset came over us. In the last seconds before totality, the outer ring of the umbra passed over us, bathing the world in the most insane light I've ever seen in nature. It was as if the sun were reduced to an infinitely small, dim speck, and all the world was awash in orange and purple hues. And then, totality.

 

We live in a world of meaningless superlatives, where every hamburger and car will astound, amaze, or otherwise change your life. But this experience exceeded every description. There are no words to do it justice, no photo that captures the moment. The sky was instantly dark enough to see the brighter stars scattered about, and a ring of dusk rimmed the distant horizon. Above, the moon was an infinitely dark circle set against the blazing sun, and the shimmering light of the corona was clearly visible and staggering in size and detail. I saw larger helmet streamers at about 11.5, 2, and 7 o'clock amid the glow, but the view was astounding and overwhelming, so it was difficult to focus on details. I snapped a few photos of the sun and of the landscape - just enough to show I was there - but photos don't do it justice. On third contact, I saw the diamond ring - and then it was over as suddenly as it began.

 

After totality passed, I was left in awe; I admit, a few tears came to my eyes. There's nothing like it in the world - nothing like seeing it in person. After I recovered my composure, I sent another text off to my brother since his family was awaiting totality in Charleston, SC. I had sent out a few earlier, describing things to see during the partial phases, but I wanted him to not waste time trying to photography totality - just LOOK and experience it, and thankfully it worked out for them, too. I'm infinitely glad I experienced this; as are no doubt so many people who trekked out to see it.


Edited by ForgottenMObject, 23 August 2017 - 06:23 PM.

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#46 SimonLowther

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 09:05 PM

I am a very proud father! 

 

My daughter, aged 5 spent the eclipse taking observations of temp vs eclipse phase using a thermometer and a DIY pin hole observer that she had made the weeks before.  The members of our group were captivated by this small girl rushing around making observations and carefully recording them in her log; it certainly made a special event that much more so for those around and mostly for her mother and I.  She is now meticulously plotting the results and writing a report (in her own 5 year old words) for publication.

 

I am willing to wager that thanks to her efforts the event was a little better for me than most.  The photo shows her recording an observation while the younger sister watches on.

 

 

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#47 SimonLowther

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 09:09 PM

And this is her DIY pin hole observer after construction.

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#48 winstar

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 10:42 PM

Wells Ranch, south of Alliance, NE

 

8/21/17

 

I woke up at 12:48 AM and looked out the tent window to the west. Perfect- full of stars. Outside, it wasn't totally clear, but the high clouds above Wells Ranch appeared to have stalled, and the sky was clear to the north where the Big Dipper cupped the silver light of Alliance. I imagined that the north breeze might send the clouds south, and was unconcerned at the time of how that might threaten someone else's view.

 

Around 4:30 AM, I awoke again to a cold drop on my forehead, and the top of my sleeping bag was damp. I looked west again and the window screen was full of fog. I knew we should have gone to Casper instead. My friend was awake too, and I suggested we start packing up to head west. He groaned and said "Let's wait until 6. We don't want to wake our neighbors." I didn't care.

 

On the way to the bathroom at 6:00 AM, under a fully gray sky, I chatted with a few people about the weather. One of them was an astronomer from Michigan, and he showed me via an iPhone app that it looked like we were going to be ok. He was staying. A visibly concerned woman stopped to chat also, and was relieved to hear the news. As morning progressed, we began to see proof in the random sunrays punching bright blue holes thru the clouds to illuminate the prairie. If that man is here on Cloudy Nights, I'd like to thank him for encouraging us to stay put and not panic.

 

My friends and I enjoyed a pancake breakfast, then power-napped off and on until 9:45 or so. At one point, a pillow fight between father and son ensued while I drowsily refereed. I then packed my gear and headed to the corral where a young cowboy offered to give several of us a hayride up the hilltop overlooking the ranch. I had a new Nikon Key Mission 360 cam, and wanted to capture the umbra racing toward us from the west like a ghostly herd; thus the scenic overlook seemed ideal.

 

The cowboy had some trouble getting up the first hill as he searched for the best route. We made it over, but I had to hike the rest of the way up the next hill, being wary of cactus and looking out for snakes. I found my place a few seconds after Eclipse Timer counted down to C1, and put on my cardboard glasses to catch a glimpse of the moon's first bite.

 

I let the blustery wind unfurl the white sheet I brought for shadow band observation, and began unloading my picnic of gear. The lightweight tripod for the 360 cam seemed steady enough I thought, but I arranged the legs so that it wouldn't blow over. I clipped a GoPro onto my Dallas Cowboys cap, with its blue star facing the sun, and went about unpacking this and that item, including a pinhole projector forming the constellation Leo, where the eclipse would take place.

 

What follows could be best sped up and accompanied by the theme from The Benny Hill Show. At least five times, on my way back and forth unpacking and setting out gear, I turned around to find my 360 cam and tripod blown over onto the prairie sand. Thankfully it is fairly rugged and built for such mistreatment. It didn't occur to me to weigh it down with my backpack, which I left on the sheet to prevent it from flying aloft with the southbound clouds.

 

I stopped this madness by pressing my left foot against one of the tripod legs, then commenced testing the 360 camera. The lights turned green when I snapped a photo, but alarmingly turned red when I hit the movie record button. "Something's wrong" I thought. Meanwhile, Eclipse Timer raised my heart rate with each new notification. I didn't have time to observe the "ambient temperature" and I left my thermometer back at camp. #CitizenScientistFail

 

Over the next half hour or more, I nervously tried to pair the camera with my phone via Blue Tooth, while periodically glancing up at the partial phases thru my eclipse shades. At one point I looked up just in time to see a small plane cross the sun and moon, which was a very cool sight. How nice it would have been to capture that with the camera I was struggling with.

 

As the moon and sun progressed ever closer toward totality, it finally dawned on me, like the prairie sunrise I missed due to fog, that those red lights were not a sign of camera error, but of RECORDING. Oh yes, I knew that.

 

Eclipse Timer gave the two minute warning and I hit record on the 360 cam, then took off my hat and did the same on the GoPro. I glanced toward the darkening west, then north down into the valley for any cloud shadows sliding up toward me. I could easily pick up and move west or east to avoid them, if I were thinking clearly.

 

Before long, there were ten seconds, then five, and a rush of deepening dark and wind-chill. I tore off the shades and raised my binocular in the buffeting wind to stand transfixed, if unsteady, beneath the outstretched glow of the silvery corona. Cheers erupted from the ranch below.

 

After months of overthinking this moment, I found it stunning, welcoming, and eye-opening. Totality caught me unprepared in every way, but most of all visually. I turned away from it only for a few seconds to obey Eclipse Timer's command to observe the horizon, and the colorful surrounding sunset.

 

Time passed swiftly like the great umbra rippling across the terrain. At third contact, as sunlight and warmth began to reclaim the prairie, I smiled, checked around me for shadow bands, and got a bit choked up like I did when my eyes met Jupiter and the Galilean Moons thru my first telescope. I turned the cameras off and said a quiet farewell to the departing shadow of The Great American Eclipse, my first experience in totality, and wished good luck to the anxious millions along the path.


Edited by winstar, 24 August 2017 - 09:41 PM.

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#49 bunyon

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 10:51 AM

I first noted the date August 21, 2017 in the late 1970s when I read in an astronomy book that there would be a total eclipse in the United States when I was old. As August 21, 2017 came closer I found myself living in the southeast, less than 100 miles from the path of totality and not yet feeling quite as old as I’d thought I’d be.  Having lived in the southeast for some time by this point, I didn’t at all trust the sky to be clear. So, I made plans to be in Grand Island, Nebraska and managed several hotel rooms on the centerline in a place that, historically, has a good shot at clear skies.

 

 

My wife and I met family at the airport in Omaha in a rain storm.  Throughout our drive to Grand Island the day before the eclipse, the skies were cloudy. At times the clouds were thick and at others thin. But the sky was never clear. We discussed plans to decamp westward where chances for clear sky seemed better.  I slept fitfully, my plan for a 4 AM weather check becoming an hourly check. It looked like we needed to drive 7 hours to Wyoming to find clear skies and a big part of me wanted to pull the trigger. But it was 4 AM, I needed to wake a lot of people and then I’d have to drive through fog, rain and, potentially, jammed highways. I’d like to tell you I didn’t think we needed to but, really, it was 4 AM and I was sleepy and I was lazy.  Anyway, I tried to sleep but it came in bits as I grappled with the strong chance that an event I’d looked forward to for four decades was going to be a bust.

 

At breakfast a few short hours later we decided on travelling northwest to a town called Ravenna and then playing it by ear. I’d noted Ravenna as being the nearest place I thought likely to be sufficiently far west and the most experienced eclipse chaser in the group had settled on it as well.  We were off.  Ravenna is a town of about 1,500 and had put together a wonderful festival.  There was a BBQ hut, a really nice concession stand, and lots of vendors of kitsch, all in a peaceful, comfortable setting. We parked, eyeing the clouds uneasily. I remained tense and ready to flee farther northwest if it looked like we needed it.

 

We enjoyed the festival, heard a song written specifically for Ravenna and the eclipse and passed the time.  A few folks had BBQ that looked and smelled fantastic and it is a testament to the state of my nerves and anticipation that I didn’t even think of joining in.  At first contact, we whooped with hundreds of others and noted that the sky had improved.  Far to the northwest, slowly moving toward us, was a fairly thick band of cloud but the rest of the sky was either clear or sprinkled with high cirrus.  It looked good. Between first contact and second – that is, between the start of the partial eclipse and totality – it was an impressive astronomical event. I set up a scope, polar aligned a camera mount, installed filters and generally went about the business of looking at and imaging stuff in the sky.  It got colder. We snacked and watched for clouds. Suddenly, the bees disappeared. Crickets chirped. Trees made crescents.

 

When the sun was at last less than a crescent, just an arc, I realized my automated imaging setup wasn’t going to start on time. I thought of trying to fix it but realized I’d either screw it up, miss the eclipse or both so I let it be.  I heard a few gasps and stood, holding my eclipse glasses to my eye in time to see a very tiny arc slip away. I saw that the a large section of the cloud bank to the west, extending across a quarter of the horizon, had suddenly disappeared. I removed the glasses and watched as the high clouds around the sun shimmered, finding it hard to hold their form, and then with a spark, the light went out and there was a hole in the sky.

 

 

In my memory, there was a sound when totality began but it may have simply been the blood pounding in my ears.  The horizon was pink and the sky a beautiful, frightening shade of dark, dark silvery blue.  I will never forget the color of that sky. I have yet to see it adequately represented in photographs and I doubt I will come close with words. It was as if a thin slice of the night sky during full moon was peeled away and pasted over the sky of a high mountain dawn an hour before sunrise. The air had stilled and grown cold and ordinary objects developed a hint of threat and promise of magic.

 

I remembered our video camera and dashed around to turn it on but hit the power button, turning it off instead. I removed the solar filter from the telescope and knocked it far from alignment. I gave up on it instantly, having just enough sense to note that I was no longer functioning correctly.

 

Turning back to the hole in the sky, I tried to remember my observational techniques and note what I was seeing. I could not.  I did see streamers extending on two sides far from the gaping hole and pink ringing that hole, first on one side and then the other but utterly failed to use averted vision to trace the streamers far from the eerie disk. I watched the people around me, mouths hanging open. I saw tears streaming down my wife’s broadly smiling face.  We shared binoculars and, I was told later, I kept shouting out locations of prominences loudly enough to be heard dozens of yards away even over the yells of others.  I vaguely remember their exclamations and cheers. The prominences, which I’ve often watched in deep red monochromatic light, were an unbelievable striking pink against the brilliant whiteness of the corona. 

 

Suddenly a large arc of the gaping disk bloomed bright pink and I could tell it was nearly over. But it couldn’t be! We were to have 155 seconds of totality and it had just started! But, no, with a snap an impossibly bright star appeared on the edge of the disk and the clouds shimmered back into shape. The Sun was coming back and we would all live. For an instant, a brilliant diamond ring hung impossibly in the sky.  As desperately as my rational mind didn’t want it to end, the irrational, instinctive piece buried deep down under modernity felt a bit of relief that it did.

 

After decades of study, I was completely prepared for what I would see but was in no way prepared for how I would feel. What had been, right up until the first diamond ring, a fascinating astronomical observation became, in that brilliant flash, something other, something much deeper and primal. The world in which we stood was suddenly alien, a different sky, a different terrain, a world without a Sun, a coldly beautiful world in which I was hopelessly, joyously lost. It was a dreamlike world that seems impossible to describe or accurately recall afterwards.

 

In the few minutes after, as we cheered and cried and hugged, we realized that the very nearly completely eclipsed Sun which had enthralled us five minutes earlier was now fairly uninteresting.  Much more meaningful were the presence of others we loved and the realization that the world would continue as we’d known it:  A Sun and Moon chasing each other through the sky as they were meant to, as they always before had. But we now knew the one could catch the other and both longed and feared it ever happening again.

 

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#50 REC

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 12:27 PM

 

Viewed from my backyard in Wentzville, MO.  Was able to view totality for 1.13 with my two boys and grandparents.  It was glorious.  

 

 

Great shot of the diamond ring! What did you take the picture with?




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