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Your Great American Eclipse Story

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#76 Exeligmos

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 12:35 AM

I first learned about this total eclipse while I was in the 7th grade (early 1980s). In the sun/moon section in the Peterson Field Guide on astronomy, they showed a track that appeared to pass close to Kansas City, my hometown then and now. Some years later, I discovered that it indeed would cross the northern part of the metro. Now 30+ years later, it was time to get ready for E-Day.

 

As the months turned into weeks, I began to worry about the weather. August was turning out to be cooler and wetter than usual. For the eclipse, I would have preferred a typical August heat wave, which would involve fewer clouds under a high pressure ridge. Instead, we were getting flooding rains and clouds fed by the ample humidity. Even the resulting lush vegetation was conspiring against me... I mean us, by releasing more moisture into the air. At ten days out, the long-range forecast was coming into play. Not looking so good. They were consistently predicting a band of clouds extending from New Mexico through the region. Worse yet, it would look like clouds would be a concern from Idaho to South Carolina. Now I had been willing to drive as far as it took to see totality, but I really didn't feel like driving the 1500 miles to Oregon only to be stuck in traffic jams or other aspects of the feared 'peoplocalypse'. So hopefully, the forecast would tighten up a bit as the weeks turned into days.


At one day out, the weather wasn't looking so hot (pun intended). The cloud band was in play as thunderstorms were firing off in New Mexico like there was no tomorrow. A complex of storms was predicted to go off in Iowa the night before, which could leave more cloud cover in northern Missouri. Wind outflow from this complex would blow up more storms around KC on eclipse day. So now it looks like I'll have to travel to southern Illinois to see the event. Not so fast. Now they were predicting a warm front in central/southern Missouri, which led to a 30% chance of thunderstorms in SE Missouri at the wrong time. So Illinois is out. Onward to Kentucky!

 

Backtrack a little bit... While examining satellite images, I noticed that fair-weather cumulus clouds (the puffy clouds on pleasant summer days that resemble castles, elephants, etc.) tended to avoid river valleys and reservoirs. This slightly increased probability of clear skies would land me in the fine little town of Eddyville near the north shore of Lake Barkley.


Backtrack again... I had decided on Eddyville as my Plan B in case the KC weather went down the toilet. When the National Weather Service forecaster indicated a cirrostratus shield over the KC area (which would render the sun as a blurry mess), I decided to leave the house at 11 PM and gun it for Kentucky. After driving all night (seven hours), I pulled into town and had some breakfast at the local McDonalds. I then searched for an adequate observing spot. An outlet mall was providing parking and viewing spots for $5. I asked a lady at the entrance who else was allowing parking. She said the Eddyville Methodist Church was letting people use their parking lot. This sounded appealing -- fewer people and no loud music. After a bit of searching, I found the church and stopped the car. Totality was six hours away.

 

At first, there was nobody at the church. After waiting an hour or so, people started to show up. As it turns out, the church was asking for $10 for the privelege to park, which included a box lunch and a pair of eclipse glasses. Sounds good to me. At least I wouldn't have to worry about being run off before the event. Plus, I would have a place to use the restroom and charge my phone. A few more people showed up over the course of the remaining hours. All in all, there were perhaps a couple dozen people overall. I chatted with a few of them, including some who brought telescopes for the event.


Eventually, clouds began to affect the northern half of the sky. These included sparse cirrus and some cumulus towers on the northern horizon. It looks like my decision to bypass southern Illinois was a good one. Clouds would not become an issue for the remainder of the eclipse.

 

At 11:55 local time, the moon began to eat into the sun. It was like a typical eclipse outing in the school yard, or wherever I'd seen these partial eclipses before. The remaining portion of the sun became smaller and smaller. The disk with a bite turned into a crescent, and then into a sliver. Shadows were taking on a strange appearance. One side was blurry and another extremely sharp. If you cupped your hand just right, you could make a little pinhole projection of a crescent on the ground. The dappled light beneath tree canopies revealed hundreds of 'eclipses'.


The darkening was gradual at first. It looked as if I was viewing the world with sunglasses on... but those were in my pocket. A bird noticed the dimming of the light and proceeded with its evening song. This was the first bird I'd heard the entire time I was there. At one point, a lady next to me pointed at something that looked like a balloon. I looked over, and... yep, looks like a weather balloon. After a bit, I realized that we were actually looking at Venus. I was fooled because it otherwise looked like normal daytime lighting. Things had gotten really dim, but my eyes had dark-adapted along with it. Eventually, my eyes wouldn't keep up...

 

I could have chosen to view the eclipse from some majestic locale like the Grand Tetons, Mount Jefferson, or the Great Smokies. Instead, I ended up in a church parking lot in small-town America. Ironically, the modest setting of Eddyville would make the transcendent experience of totality that much more striking.

 

After using the restroom for (hopefully) the last time, I returned to the parking lot for the final countdown. A few minutes out, everything still appeared normal, though a bit darker. At some point, one could actually perceive the increasing dimming. The chatter of the small crowd was rising in volume. The excitement was building. The 'rules' of the familiar natural world were bending, and many present knew that they would soon be turned on their head.

 

At some point, the high cirrus clouds in the northwest faded and disappeared. That was the first obvious sign of the approaching shadow. Oh, did I mention that the excitement was building? It was like the feeling you get when you're cresting the top of a roller coaster. As you are slowly starting your descent, you know the big drop is coming.


Soon after, the horizon was starting to take on a pinkish hue, and then the closer cumulus towers began to fade. It was getting dark FAST.

 

Attached File  8681_1322-CDT_just_before_totality_67%.jpg   86.49KB   3 downloads

 

Since I was very weary of looking directly at the sun before complete coverage, I tracked the progress of the eclipse by watching my shadow on the ground. Just as I saw the shimmering sunlight switch to a cold, shadowless pall, I swung around and looked up to behold a sight that words fail to describe.... but I'll try anyway. The massive dark void of the moon's shadow had overtaken the sun and was sweeping the remaining daylit sky to the east. The fading dazzle of the sun had been transformed into a luminous ring basking in a warm, golden glow. This glow surrounding the eclipsed sun was striking and unexpected. This image (I modified someone else's photo) gives an impression of what I saw:

 

Attached File  Eclipse3b.jpg   217.23KB   3 downloads

 

The scene was like something out of a science fiction movie, or perhaps from the supernatural. Revelation 6 comes to mind: ".... The sun turned black... The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up...."

 

The yellow glow faded fairly quickly to reveal the full splendor of the silvery corona that you've seen in many eclipse photos. In real life, this luminescence has an appearance unlike anything I've ever seen. The inner portion near the darkened moon's limb can be described as brilliant, while the outer extensions had an almost pearly luster, with a very slightly greenish-yellow hue. Overall, the eclipsed sun was about as bright as the full moon at night. The surrounding sky had a quality that wasn't quite like a typical twilit sky. It was indigo overhead, with 360 degrees of twilight around the horizon.


I tried to use 7x50 binoculars, but my shaking hands rendered them almost useless. In a panic, I ran over to hold them against the side of my car in hopes that I could get a steady view. My experience with the binocs was disappointing, but it did help me crystallize in memory some details of totality. I sketched this image to preserve my recollection of what I saw:

 

Attached File  Totality-impression-f.jpg   180.08KB   3 downloads

 

I did tease out a little more detail, including faint coronal tendrils extending from the sun's north pole (top), a ruddy prominence within the inner corona (on the right, at '3:00'), and Regulus (left of the sun). (For this drawing, I found an adequate photo online for a base, and then heavily modified it with Photoshop from what I retained in memory.)

 

Toward the end of totality, the right side of the inner corona began to brighten and take on an pinkish orange hue (I never saw the chromosphere clearly). I started to get antsy about the imminent return of blinding sunlight. Just as I glanced over to the northwest to see the encroaching daylight sky, the ground began to light up. Darn it! I missed the diamond ring.


The landscape and sky brightened as rapidly as it had faded three minutes ago. While fumbling around, I happened to catch the sliver of sunlight in the corner of my eye. I must say that was by far the most intense light I'd ever seen. In a matter of mere seconds, the receding shadow faded into a typical daytime sky. Three bats flew overhead, rushing back to their shelter.

 

I then took the time to eat the box lunch provided by the church folks in preparation for the long drive home.

 

I was disappointed that I didn't see the diamond ring, but it is probably just as well that I didn't. At least in 2024, I'll be ready.


Edited by Exeligmos, 14 September 2017 - 02:46 AM.

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#77 REC

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 01:39 PM

5 a.m.

 

Darkness.

 

Wide awake.

 

I had hoped to get a longer night’s sleep, but once I awoke at 5 a.m. on the morning of August 21, 2017, I knew I couldn’t get back to sleep in our hotel room in Bowling Green, KY.

 

I have been a stargazer since I was a kid, and I was fascinated with solar eclipses.  I didn’t just know 2017 would feature the next CONUS total solar eclipse.  I knew since I was a kid the exact date was August 21, 2017.

 

Five A.M.  The Day Of.  A date always in the future…until now.  For stargazers, this was the morning of our Super Bowl.  This was what athletes must feel like on the morning of, “The Big Game”.  The adrenaline had already started coursing through my veins.  I felt like a kid on Christmas morning barreling down the stairs in that instant just before gasping in awe at the presents around the tree.

 

I did a quick appraisal of local weather forecasts and computer weather models for SW Kentucky and northern Tennessee to put me at a little bit of ease.  I skipped coffee during our continental breakfast, as I was already “wired”.

 

My fiancee and I hit the road around 8:45 a.m. CDT after a hearty breakfast.  Our intended site was the Franklin (KY) Drive-In, but we made the mistake of not having reserve tickets.  The line at the gate was already dishearteningly long when our car stopped at 9 a.m.

 

That’s when I remembered fellow Cloudy Nights and Wilderness Center Astronomy Club member Tom Kiehl had mentioned a church outside of nearby Cross Plains, Tennessee.  He mentioned several CN’ers were going to be there.  I called him and when I found out the parking lot was only sparsely occupied, I made a snap decision.

 

“Tom?”
“Yeah?”
“See you in twenty.”

 

Southbound traffic on US-31W and I-65 was still very sparse at 10 a.m. EDT.   Getting off at SR-25 and making the right turn towards Cross Plains revealed the principle reason why.  Many people had already staked out positions in fields, pull-offs, or any place that would allow them to set up.  The town was peppered with tents, tables and people in preparation for the event.

 

After going through downtown, we came across Mt. Carmel Baptist Church around 10 a.m.  I could already see several telescopes set up for H-alpha and Tom’s minivan in the parking lot next to his white-light-filtered Astroscan.  Next to him were Annie and Elaine, two photographers from Michigan who brought a canopy tent.  (I wished I’d thought of that given the infernal Tennessee heat!)  There were others from Ohio that had gathered there, including a couple and a family, both from Cincinnati, and two men in their twenties that came from within miles of where I live outside of Canton, Ohio.

 

We had around two hours to kill, so I set up my Astro-Tech AT115EDT and put in my 8-24mm Baader Zoom (33-100X on my scope) and put a full-aperture Spectrum white-light filter over the objective end.  The sun had an especially prominent sunspot grouping near its center, and to my surprise, the seeing was steady enough to allow extended viewing at 100X (8mm on the zoom).  I went over to Al’s H-alpha setup and got a nice view of the prominences on the western end of the sun.

 

After what seemed like a span of geological time had elapsed, I noticed the moon take its first nibble of the solar disk just prior to noon.  “Ok,” I thought.  “We’re underway.  Ninety minutes to go.”

 

Fifteen minutes later, the first of several cumulus clouds that had been building up in the heat of the day obscured the sun for a few minutes.  I was dreading the possibility of them obscuring the sun during the wrong minutes.  While several remarked about how pretty the clouds and sun appeared through their eclipse glasses, I bitterly said, “I hope those clouds go back to whatever hell they came from”.  (This fear was not unfounded; some locations in Nashville were clouded out during totality while the rest of the sky was mockingly blue).

 

12:45 p.m. CDT rolled around.  The sun was now close to half-obscured, and the biggest cumulus cloud that had covered up the sun for over ten minutes had moved off.  This was the first time we noticed the reduced illumination; the light looked like it was filtered by clouds that were no longer there.

 

1:00 CDT came and went with the sun now close to two-thirds covered.  We could feel a slight but nonetheless welcome respite from the heat.  Even better, I noticed the clouds had stopped building and had started to thin out.  Since cumulus clouds are formed by convective means, it stood to reason the reduction in solar radiation accompanying an eclipse would cause them to dissipate, much like how they typically do towards sunset.

 

By 1:15 CDT, the sun was about 80% covered.  We started noticing our shadows sharpening up dramatically.  The temperature had started to cool off noticeably by this point.  Shadows were sharpening dramatically, and we could see the shadows of individual pine needles and strands of my fiancee’s hair on the pavement.  I pulled the eyepiece out of my telescope and hooked my DSLR for prime-focus imaging.  I put the camera in movie mode and used the Live View screen to focus.

 

The sun was about 90% covered at 1:20 CDT.  I had seen a similar diminution during the May 1994 annular eclipse from northern Ohio.  Temperatures were continuing to drop and I could no longer feel any warmth from the anemic sun.  Still, as a veteran of five partial and one annular eclipse, this was something I’d seen before.  Nothing out of the ordinary.

 

That would turn out to be the last ordinary minute of my life.

 

In contrast to the 1994 eclipse, 90% obscuration was just a waypoint, not a culmination.  Being in a rural setting meant we were surrounded by the sounds of nature, but their serenade had gone strangely quiet.  The blueness of the sky deepened into a metallic hue, while the landscape seemed like it was bathed in a subtle yellowish hue.

 

The eeriness of this can’t be understated.  Between the fading sunlight, unsettling quietness and deepening of the blue sky, it felt like the world was winding down or replaced by a diligently-replicated alien facsimile.  We had no longer come to an eclipse; the eclipse was an awesome, unstoppable force plowing straight towards us, closing in all sides.

 

Two minutes to totality.  The sun was more than 95% obscured and looked as if viewed through very thick sunglasses.  The clouds had all but dissipated and the air temperature had dropped to a downright pleasant level.  The illumination was dimming rapidly, almost in real-time.  Still sunlit, but with the wobbliness of a bruised boxer who knew he wouldn’t last another round.  The solar crescent had become impossibly thin.

 

A plethora of conflicting emotions and thoughts took over in a way difficult to describe.  I felt an instant bond across time with those who’d painstakingly calculated the circumstances of solar eclipses and the ancient ones petrified by the sight of this spectacle.  I had painstakingly researched total eclipses, watched countless YouTube videos, and talked with those who’d witnessed totality.  I had prepared myself for what, when and where to watch for various phenomena, but I learned in the dying sunlight the one true lesson of totality--there are no preparations for what you **FEEL**.  And a total eclipse isn’t just seen, it’s felt.  Right down to the core.

 

With the sun now 99% obscured, the world around us changed at a bewildering pace.  The illumination was disappearing at almost an alarming pace.  We could see the orange “sunset” hues off towards the northeast, 90 degrees away from the orientation of the approaching shadow.  The light was fading rapidly, and the parking lot lights were starting to come on.

 

My internal “freak meter” was already red-lining, but the next thirty seconds buried the needle.  With just fifteen seconds to go, I pulled the filter off the objective, revealing the Diamond Ring Effect and corona on the camera’s Live View screen transitioning to that one moment I’d waited for almost all my life—second contact.  I had finally, finally seen totality.

 

I might live to 100.  I might get hit by a bus tomorrow.  I know this—I will draw my final dying breath never having found the words to describe second contact.

 

Never.

 

Every time I try to concisely describe that moment, it’s like crushing a balloon—squeeze one end, and helplessly watch as the other bulges out.  Every thought carries its own contradiction.  The moment felt like the universe had completely stopped, yet over instantaneously.  I felt like a part of a grand, majestic universe and yet an infinitesimal speck.   My soul felt like it had soared to heaven, yet body-slammed at the same time.  I could hear exclamations of joy, triumph and excitement interlaced among "OH MY GOD!!" and the sounds of onlookers crying.  Totality isn't just a sky event.  It's literally a life-changing experience.

 

It bore some similarity to witnessing the birth of my two daughters.  It’s not the *same* emotion.  But they both draw from the same well—a place so deep, so ingrained in your soul, so hard-wired into the very fabric of your being that words will never suffice.  It simply has to be experienced and FELT.

 

I’ll never forget the appearance of the corona.  There were three prominent “wings” easily visible to the naked-eye.  Many photos shows the corona as a largely uniform glow.  Visually, it was FAR different, appearing like magically-suspended, glowing strands of cotton candy or spider silk.

 

Totality lasted 159 seconds.  It felt like 1.59 seconds.  Third contact greeted us with the second “diamond ring”.  After a second or two, I averted my gaze to prevent eye injury, but I do remember one curious thing about the diamond ring—it didn’t just sparkle.  For lack of a better term, it twinkled.  An impossibly bright, twinkling “star” comprising just a tiny fraction of a percent of the photosphere.

 

After ten seconds had elapsed past third contact, the world quickly brightened.  Everything in the world was slowly returning to normal…except for those who bore witness to totality.  We had seen something so majestic, so much more powerful than ourselves that I was a bit saddened at the sheer number of people who didn’t, couldn’t or refused to get a chance to see totality.

 

It is truly an experience that unites all who witness it, if in nothing more than an overwhelming sense of awe and humility.   The effect it has on onlookers simply doesn't correlate with astronomical expertise.

 

Even now, as I write this two weeks after the event, I feel like an ancient mariner and everyone else who didn't witness totality is a wedding guest.  But evangelizing about totality requires words that will forever elude me.  So I find myself, like so many eclipse veterans, urging others, “you’ve just got to see one.  I can’t explain it.  You have to see it.”

 

Clear Skies,
Phil

That's quite the report there Phil! One of the best written observations of your wonderful experience, kudos. bow.gif


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#78 REC

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 01:47 PM

I first learned about this total eclipse while I was in the 7th grade (early 1980s). In the sun/moon section in the Peterson Field Guide on astronomy, they showed a track that appeared to pass close to Kansas City, my hometown then and now. Some years later, I discovered that it indeed would cross the northern part of the metro. Now 30+ years later, it was time to get ready for E-Day.

 

As the months turned into weeks, I began to worry about the weather. August was turning out to be cooler and wetter than usual. For the eclipse, I would have preferred a typical August heat wave, which would involve fewer clouds under a high pressure ridge. Instead, we were getting flooding rains and clouds fed by the ample humidity. Even the resulting lush vegetation was conspiring against me... I mean us, by releasing more moisture into the air. At ten days out, the long-range forecast was coming into play. Not looking so good. They were consistently predicting a band of clouds extending from New Mexico through the region. Worse yet, it would look like clouds would be a concern from Idaho to South Carolina. Now I had been willing to drive as far as it took to see totality, but I really didn't feel like driving the 1500 miles to Oregon only to be stuck in traffic jams or other aspects of the feared 'peoplocalypse'. So hopefully, the forecast would tighten up a bit as the weeks turned into days.


At one day out, the weather wasn't looking so hot (pun intended). The cloud band was in play as thunderstorms were firing off in New Mexico like there was no tomorrow. A complex of storms was predicted to go off in Iowa the night before, which could leave more cloud cover in northern Missouri. Wind outflow from this complex would blow up more storms around KC on eclipse day. So now it looks like I'll have to travel to southern Illinois to see the event. Not so fast. Now they were predicting a warm front in central/southern Missouri, which led to a 30% chance of thunderstorms in SE Missouri at the wrong time. So Illinois is out. Onward to Kentucky!

 

Backtrack a little bit... While examining satellite images, I noticed that fair-weather cumulus clouds (the puffy clouds on pleasant summer days that resemble castles, elephants, etc.) tended to avoid river valleys and reservoirs. This slightly increased probability of clear skies would land me in the fine little town of Eddyville near the north shore of Lake Barkley.


Backtrack again... I had decided on Eddyville as my Plan B in case the KC weather went down the toilet. When the National Weather Service forecaster indicated a cirrostratus shield over the KC area (which would render the sun as a blurry mess), I decided to leave the house at 11 PM and gun it for Kentucky. After driving all night (seven hours), I pulled into town and had some breakfast at the local McDonalds. I then searched for an adequate observing spot. An outlet mall was providing parking and viewing spots for $5. I asked a lady at the entrance who else was allowing parking. She said the Eddyville Methodist Church was letting people use their parking lot. This sounded appealing -- fewer people and no loud music. After a bit of searching, I found the church and stopped the car. Totality was six hours away.

 

At first, there was nobody at the church. After waiting an hour or so, people started to show up. As it turns out, the church was asking for $10 for the privelege to park, which included a box lunch and a pair of eclipse glasses. Sounds good to me. At least I wouldn't have to worry about being run off before the event. Plus, I would have a place to use the restroom and charge my phone. A few more people showed up over the course of the remaining hours. All in all, there were perhaps a couple dozen people overall. I chatted with a few of them, including some who brought telescopes for the event.


Eventually, clouds began to affect the northern half of the sky. These included sparse cirrus and some cumulus towers on the northern horizon. It looks like my decision to bypass southern Illinois was a good one. Clouds would not become an issue for the remainder of the eclipse.

 

At 11:55 local time, the moon began to eat into the sun. It was like a typical eclipse outing in the school yard, or wherever I'd seen these partial eclipses before. The remaining portion of the sun became smaller and smaller. The disk with a bite turned into a crescent, and then into a sliver. Shadows were taking on a strange appearance. One side was blurry and another extremely sharp. If you cupped your hand just right, you could make a little pinhole projection of a crescent on the ground. The dappled light beneath tree canopies revealed hundreds of 'eclipses'.


The darkening was gradual at first. It looked as if I was viewing the world with sunglasses on... but those were in my pocket. A bird noticed the dimming of the light and proceeded with its evening song. This was the first bird I'd heard the entire time I was there. At one point, a lady next to me pointed at something that looked like a balloon. I looked over, and... yep, looks like a weather balloon. After a bit, I realized that we were actually looking at Venus. I was fooled because it otherwise looked like normal daytime lighting. Things had gotten really dim, but my eyes had dark-adapted along with it. Eventually, my eyes wouldn't keep up...

 

I could have chosen to view the eclipse from some majestic locale like the Grand Tetons, Mount Jefferson, or the Great Smokies. Instead, I ended up in a church parking lot in small-town America. Ironically, the modest setting of Eddyville would make the transcendent experience of totality that much more striking.

 

After using the restroom for (hopefully) the last time, I returned to the parking lot for the final countdown. A few minutes out, everything still appeared normal, though a bit darker. At some point, one could actually perceive the increasing dimming. The chatter of the small crowd was rising in volume. The excitement was building. The 'rules' of the familiar natural world were bending, and many present knew that they would soon be turned on their head.

 

At some point, the high cirrus clouds in the northwest faded and disappeared. That was the first obvious sign of the approaching shadow. Oh, did I mention that the excitement was building? It was like the feeling you get when you're cresting the top of a roller coaster. As you are slowly starting your descent, you know the big drop is coming.


Soon after, the horizon was starting to take on a pinkish hue, and then the closer cumulus towers began to fade. It was getting dark FAST.

 

attachicon.gif8681_1322-CDT_just_before_totality_67%.jpg

 

Since I was very weary of looking directly at the sun before complete coverage, I tracked the progress of the eclipse by watching my shadow on the ground. Just as I saw the shimmering sunlight switch to a cold, shadowless pall, I swung around and looked up to behold a sight that words fail to describe.... but I'll try anyway. The massive dark void of the moon's shadow had overtaken the sun and was sweeping the remaining daylit sky to the east. The fading dazzle of the sun had been transformed into a luminous ring basking in a warm, golden glow. This glow surrounding the eclipsed sun was striking and unexpected. This image (I modified someone else's photo) gives an impression of what I saw:

 

attachicon.gifEclipse3b.jpg

 

The scene was like something out of a science fiction movie, or perhaps from the supernatural. Revelation 6 comes to mind: ".... The sun turned black... The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up...."

 

The yellow glow faded fairly quickly to reveal the full splendor of the silvery corona that you've seen in many eclipse photos. In real life, this luminescence has an appearance unlike anything I've ever seen. The inner portion near the darkened moon's limb can be described as brilliant, while the outer extensions had an almost pearly luster, with a very slightly greenish-yellow hue. Overall, the eclipsed sun was about as bright as the full moon at night. The surrounding sky had a quality that wasn't quite like a typical twilit sky. It was indigo overhead, with 360 degrees of twilight around the horizon.


I tried to use 7x50 binoculars, but my shaking hands rendered them almost useless. In a panic, I ran over to hold them against the side of my car in hopes that I could get a steady view. My experience with the binocs was disappointing, but it did help me crystallize in memory some details of totality. I sketched this image to preserve my recollection of what I saw:

 

attachicon.gifTotality-impression-f.jpg

 

I did tease out a little more detail, including faint coronal tendrils extending from the sun's north pole (top), a ruddy prominence within the inner corona (on the right, at '3:00'), and Regulus (left of the sun). (For this drawing, I found an adequate photo online for a base, and then heavily modified it with Photoshop from what I retained in memory.)

 

Toward the end of totality, the right side of the inner corona began to brighten and take on an pinkish orange hue (I never saw the chromosphere clearly). I started to get antsy about the imminent return of blinding sunlight. Just as I glanced over to the northwest to see the encroaching daylight sky, the ground began to light up. Darn it! I missed the diamond ring.


The landscape and sky brightened as rapidly as it had faded three minutes ago. While fumbling around, I happened to catch the sliver of sunlight in the corner of my eye. I must say that was by far the most intense light I'd ever seen. In a matter of mere seconds, the receding shadow faded into a typical daytime sky. Three bats flew overhead, rushing back to their shelter.

 

I then took the time to eat the box lunch provided by the church folks in preparation for the long drive home.

 

I was disappointed that I didn't see the diamond ring, but it is probably just as well that I didn't. At least in 2024, I'll be ready.

Very nice report! I wish I had more sky to observe, we where at a hotel that blocked a lot of the sky and some trees behind us. There was plenty of sky above with not much clouds, so can't complain. I also missed both diamonds rings. The second one was pretty dangerous to attempt as I was looking through a mounted 9x63 bino. As soon as I saw the right edge starting to brighten and turn red, I pulled away. Maybe could have spent one more second there, but you just don't know.



#79 Erik Nielsen

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 02:28 AM

Viewed from Rigby, Idaho.

I am not good in english, so I have maked this little video of the experience from South Park in Rigby, Idaho.

I have spotted the place during the last 2 years in google earth, and was on the spot at 6 am.

CLICK HERE TO SE THE VIDEO.

 

Regards,

Erik Nielsen

Denmark


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#80 Marsie Comet

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 07:20 AM

Loved the video you put together Erik - was just like being back on Aug 21 again.  Glad you were able to make it over to see the eclipse.  Many thanks for sharing your experience!



#81 TheDeuce

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 07:16 PM

I won't bother detailing our eclipse experience since everything we experienced has pretty much been expressed - much more eloquently than I could methinks.

 

What I will share is what happened the night before.  We drove a rental RV from Winnipeg to Endicott, Nebraska and I had brought my Skywatcher 120 ED along with my PST and Coronado 60 double stacker.  The couple in the spot next to us at the RV park were a delightful couple from Houston.  Absolutely delightful.  Our four kids (ages 9-6-4-4) immediately took to them (and their pup) and it was like having a pair of rent-a-grandparents on site.

 

Anyway we were up late into the evening and the skies were terrific.  The Milky Way was a 3D river overhead.  My wife suggested I set up the scope and to some telescoping.  Our rent-a-grandma had gone to sleep early but rent-a-grandpa was still up so I got to show him the sights.

 

He was amazed.  Turns out he had invested in a "450x Professional Model" telescope at Costco and had the usual experience you'd get with that.  It never occurred to him that it wasn't his eyes or that the hobby sucked.  Seeing what a real telescope can do turned him onto the hobby.  Alberio, M13, the Andromeda Galaxy, all the usual easy sights through a non-trash scope did the trick!

 

The night ended with a metaphorical exclamation mark.  His wife woke up around 2 AM or so and wandered over to the scope.  I aimed it at Andromeda and told her to take a look.

 

The clear and audible "GASP!" I got is a memory I'll treasure. 

 

Oh yeah, the eclipse.  We saw it perfectly through a hole in the clouds.  Clouds to the left of us, clouds to the right, there we were stuck in the middle.  Perfect!  Two Coronado scopes plus my SW 120 with a home made filter gave plenty of observing opportunities for everyone.

 

Highlight (or lowlight)?  I was video recording the time around totality and everyone was just as nutso as you'd expect.  Except for my six year old.  Middle of totality, corona in all it's glory, and you can clearly hear him:

 

"Can I go back in the RV and watch the Lego movie?".

 

Sigh.

 

 

 

m. 


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#82 comprapescado

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 11:25 AM

I already posted this in another thread https://www.cloudyni...aska/?p=8069331 but am posting here since a lot of people may not have read that one.

 

Thanks for the advice, everyone who said they were heading west. I had not originally known if I would be able to take this trip as I didn't know if my mom would be able to make it and I wasn't going to leave her alone. Part of my selling point (and I had thought of this at least last year) is we could go to NE and then to SD where her niece lives who she hasn't seen in 6 yrs. They are practically sisters.

Initially, when I read the forecast late Fri or early Sat and we were still packing (with only a room in Beatrice Sat), I mentioned going to Nashville, both Beatrice and Nashville being about 9-10 hrs from DFW, and Beatrice to Nashville also being about the same, but Nashville to Madison, SD being far more than from Beatrice or from Wyoming.

Went ahead with plan, leaving later than I had hoped, met a woman from Houston and her father from Dallas going to York, NE at the Oklahoma visitor information center just north of the Red River (They had purple Eclipse T-shirts on) and my mom met a man going to KC who didn't know what he was going to do after that.

Went smoothly through OK and KS up to Newton and then getting onto country roads (and it was late because we had to stop several times), going by KS-15 which went most of the way to Beatrice, (but not in a single chunk. It wasn't continuous.) it was a lot of driving on dark, two-lane, undivided roads. Got to Beatrice at midnight.

After posting here, to see what others were doing, headed to Lincoln and then west on I-80 to Scottsbluff and considered staying there but my phone (which would die in Scottsbluff before we left, with my mom's going low too) showed on Weather Underground a forecast that clouds would clear out of Eastern Wyoming faster than the Nebraska Panhandle. I thought Scottsbluff would be OK but wanted to be as close to 100% positive as possible.

At the travel information center in York, a man was telling the attendant he was headed to Casper bacuse of the weather and a woman said the same and she said she thought that is what most people are doing. Passed a car a couple of times with "Eclipse Glasses $6" written on it.

It was hard finding US-26 out of Scottsbluff. Finally I asked someone and she told me how to get there and it is near Walmart. I met a woman from WY in the WM parking lot there (she was talking to a couple nearby) who had picked out the perfect spot and was planning to get there by ATV and had the GPS coordinates (My phone was dead by then) and she thought it would be OK in Scottsbluff but since my phone was dead and I had no GPS, I wasn't talking chances. She thought Casper would be a zoo. this, however, didn't bother me. I wanted a decent crowd nearby.

We took US 26 toward I-25 and unfortunately missed the turn in Lingle and got on 85 north a good distance (It didn't seem right to me but there were no signs and few landmarks.). Finally, finding an 85 sign, turned around and eventually got on 26 again and got to Dwyer Junction rest Area, intending to get up early to make it to Casper.

This was a tent city. Hundreds of it not a thousand cars there, people pitching tents and a few in sleeping bags directly on the ground. I've never seen this before. We got up in time to beat the crowd to the bathroom (line grew very quickly after that) and I heard from some people who said 25 was like a parking lot. They had left and turned around to stay there. I was told by someone else this area had just under 2 mins totality, so I figured we would try for Glendo right on the line.

Took a few sunrise pics and video with my mom's phone that was now down to ~12%.

Someone else pointed out 25 (visible from the Rest Area) and it was one fifth of the traffic it had been when she was on it at 2am and she thought we could make it to Glendo, so we set out. Got back on 25, clear for a while then maybe a mile from the Glendo exit, right lane backed up. Finally gave up on it and got into left lane with intent to go up past Glendo an exit and turn around, but when we got to ORin Junction Rest Area, about 6 miles up, stopped there. Nice crowd, a bit smaller. Some continued up the road and there was a ridge just beyond the rest area with poeple there too.

I tried to find the length of the totality (hoping someone would know exactly. Got some clearly wrong answers, like 2:40). Finally found some astronomers, one who invited me to look at the sun, pointed out two groups of sunspots (I saw three in the center and two on lower left, but I think he told someone else there were four in the center.) There was another man there with him who had a Alliance shirt on and he made the last minute decision to leave too.

They were projecting the eclipse using a pegboard and also he had a clever idea, poking holes to spell out "2017" for a projecting. A family nearby used Ritz crackers to do the same.

Also, after watching the Alaska Airlines eclipse video, I was thinking the umbra was supposed to come from the direction of the sun, but he pointed out it would be coming from the west and if I got up to a high ridge, we could see a sunset for 360°, so I got my mom, hesitantly, because she is on a walker, to the top of this ridge to see the mountains in the west disappear in darkness, watch totality, and see the 360° sunset. Eclipse was awesome. Weather was great.

There was also a young guy from MO whose parents live in CO who was talking to people, taking photos and took our pics for his website and looked through our welding glass.



#83 BradFran

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 01:59 PM

Here is an account of my eclipse experience at the McDaniel Ranch near John Day, Oregon. Originally posted to observers.org (bay area California based observers group).

 

http://observers.org...opic,843.0.html

 

 

Brad



#84 Thundermoon1994

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 12:37 PM

5 a.m.

 

Darkness.

 

Wide awake.

 

I had hoped to get a longer night’s sleep, but once I awoke at 5 a.m. on the morning of August 21, 2017, I knew I couldn’t get back to sleep in our hotel room in Bowling Green, KY.

 

I have been a stargazer since I was a kid, and I was fascinated with solar eclipses.  I didn’t just know 2017 would feature the next CONUS total solar eclipse.  I knew since I was a kid the exact date was August 21, 2017.

 

Five A.M.  The Day Of.  A date always in the future…until now.  For stargazers, this was the morning of our Super Bowl.  This was what athletes must feel like on the morning of, “The Big Game”.  The adrenaline had already started coursing through my veins.  I felt like a kid on Christmas morning barreling down the stairs in that instant just before gasping in awe at the presents around the tree.

 

I did a quick appraisal of local weather forecasts and computer weather models for SW Kentucky and northern Tennessee to put me at a little bit of ease.  I skipped coffee during our continental breakfast, as I was already “wired”.

 

My fiancee and I hit the road around 8:45 a.m. CDT after a hearty breakfast.  Our intended site was the Franklin (KY) Drive-In, but we made the mistake of not having reserve tickets.  The line at the gate was already dishearteningly long when our car stopped at 9 a.m.

 

That’s when I remembered fellow Cloudy Nights and Wilderness Center Astronomy Club member Tom Kiehl had mentioned a church outside of nearby Cross Plains, Tennessee.  He mentioned several CN’ers were going to be there.  I called him and when I found out the parking lot was only sparsely occupied, I made a snap decision.

 

“Tom?”
“Yeah?”
“See you in twenty.”

 

Southbound traffic on US-31W and I-65 was still very sparse at 10 a.m. EDT.   Getting off at SR-25 and making the right turn towards Cross Plains revealed the principle reason why.  Many people had already staked out positions in fields, pull-offs, or any place that would allow them to set up.  The town was peppered with tents, tables and people in preparation for the event.

 

After going through downtown, we came across Mt. Carmel Baptist Church around 10 a.m.  I could already see several telescopes set up for H-alpha and Tom’s minivan in the parking lot next to his white-light-filtered Astroscan.  Next to him were Annie and Elaine, two photographers from Michigan who brought a canopy tent.  (I wished I’d thought of that given the infernal Tennessee heat!)  There were others from Ohio that had gathered there, including a couple and a family, both from Cincinnati, and two men in their twenties that came from within miles of where I live outside of Canton, Ohio.

 

We had around two hours to kill, so I set up my Astro-Tech AT115EDT and put in my 8-24mm Baader Zoom (33-100X on my scope) and put a full-aperture Spectrum white-light filter over the objective end.  The sun had an especially prominent sunspot grouping near its center, and to my surprise, the seeing was steady enough to allow extended viewing at 100X (8mm on the zoom).  I went over to Al’s H-alpha setup and got a nice view of the prominences on the western end of the sun.

 

After what seemed like a span of geological time had elapsed, I noticed the moon take its first nibble of the solar disk just prior to noon.  “Ok,” I thought.  “We’re underway.  Ninety minutes to go.”

 

Fifteen minutes later, the first of several cumulus clouds that had been building up in the heat of the day obscured the sun for a few minutes.  I was dreading the possibility of them obscuring the sun during the wrong minutes.  While several remarked about how pretty the clouds and sun appeared through their eclipse glasses, I bitterly said, “I hope those clouds go back to whatever hell they came from”.  (This fear was not unfounded; some locations in Nashville were clouded out during totality while the rest of the sky was mockingly blue).

 

12:45 p.m. CDT rolled around.  The sun was now close to half-obscured, and the biggest cumulus cloud that had covered up the sun for over ten minutes had moved off.  This was the first time we noticed the reduced illumination; the light looked like it was filtered by clouds that were no longer there.

 

1:00 CDT came and went with the sun now close to two-thirds covered.  We could feel a slight but nonetheless welcome respite from the heat.  Even better, I noticed the clouds had stopped building and had started to thin out.  Since cumulus clouds are formed by convective means, it stood to reason the reduction in solar radiation accompanying an eclipse would cause them to dissipate, much like how they typically do towards sunset.

 

By 1:15 CDT, the sun was about 80% covered.  We started noticing our shadows sharpening up dramatically.  The temperature had started to cool off noticeably by this point.  Shadows were sharpening dramatically, and we could see the shadows of individual pine needles and strands of my fiancee’s hair on the pavement.  I pulled the eyepiece out of my telescope and hooked my DSLR for prime-focus imaging.  I put the camera in movie mode and used the Live View screen to focus.

 

The sun was about 90% covered at 1:20 CDT.  I had seen a similar diminution during the May 1994 annular eclipse from northern Ohio.  Temperatures were continuing to drop and I could no longer feel any warmth from the anemic sun.  Still, as a veteran of five partial and one annular eclipse, this was something I’d seen before.  Nothing out of the ordinary.

 

That would turn out to be the last ordinary minute of my life.

 

In contrast to the 1994 eclipse, 90% obscuration was just a waypoint, not a culmination.  Being in a rural setting meant we were surrounded by the sounds of nature, but their serenade had gone strangely quiet.  The blueness of the sky deepened into a metallic hue, while the landscape seemed like it was bathed in a subtle yellowish hue.

 

The eeriness of this can’t be understated.  Between the fading sunlight, unsettling quietness and deepening of the blue sky, it felt like the world was winding down or replaced by a diligently-replicated alien facsimile.  We had no longer come to an eclipse; the eclipse was an awesome, unstoppable force plowing straight towards us, closing in all sides.

 

Two minutes to totality.  The sun was more than 95% obscured and looked as if viewed through very thick sunglasses.  The clouds had all but dissipated and the air temperature had dropped to a downright pleasant level.  The illumination was dimming rapidly, almost in real-time.  Still sunlit, but with the wobbliness of a bruised boxer who knew he wouldn’t last another round.  The solar crescent had become impossibly thin.

 

A plethora of conflicting emotions and thoughts took over in a way difficult to describe.  I felt an instant bond across time with those who’d painstakingly calculated the circumstances of solar eclipses and the ancient ones petrified by the sight of this spectacle.  I had painstakingly researched total eclipses, watched countless YouTube videos, and talked with those who’d witnessed totality.  I had prepared myself for what, when and where to watch for various phenomena, but I learned in the dying sunlight the one true lesson of totality--there are no preparations for what you **FEEL**.  And a total eclipse isn’t just seen, it’s felt.  Right down to the core.

 

With the sun now 99% obscured, the world around us changed at a bewildering pace.  The illumination was disappearing at almost an alarming pace.  We could see the orange “sunset” hues off towards the northeast, 90 degrees away from the orientation of the approaching shadow.  The light was fading rapidly, and the parking lot lights were starting to come on.

 

My internal “freak meter” was already red-lining, but the next thirty seconds buried the needle.  With just fifteen seconds to go, I pulled the filter off the objective, revealing the Diamond Ring Effect and corona on the camera’s Live View screen transitioning to that one moment I’d waited for almost all my life—second contact.  I had finally, finally seen totality.

 

I might live to 100.  I might get hit by a bus tomorrow.  I know this—I will draw my final dying breath never having found the words to describe second contact.

 

Never.

 

Every time I try to concisely describe that moment, it’s like crushing a balloon—squeeze one end, and helplessly watch as the other bulges out.  Every thought carries its own contradiction.  The moment felt like the universe had completely stopped, yet over instantaneously.  I felt like a part of a grand, majestic universe and yet an infinitesimal speck.   My soul felt like it had soared to heaven, yet body-slammed at the same time.  I could hear exclamations of joy, triumph and excitement interlaced among "OH MY GOD!!" and the sounds of onlookers crying.  Totality isn't just a sky event.  It's literally a life-changing experience.

 

It bore some similarity to witnessing the birth of my two daughters.  It’s not the *same* emotion.  But they both draw from the same well—a place so deep, so ingrained in your soul, so hard-wired into the very fabric of your being that words will never suffice.  It simply has to be experienced and FELT.

 

I’ll never forget the appearance of the corona.  There were three prominent “wings” easily visible to the naked-eye.  Many photos shows the corona as a largely uniform glow.  Visually, it was FAR different, appearing like magically-suspended, glowing strands of cotton candy or spider silk.

 

Totality lasted 159 seconds.  It felt like 1.59 seconds.  Third contact greeted us with the second “diamond ring”.  After a second or two, I averted my gaze to prevent eye injury, but I do remember one curious thing about the diamond ring—it didn’t just sparkle.  For lack of a better term, it twinkled.  An impossibly bright, twinkling “star” comprising just a tiny fraction of a percent of the photosphere.

 

After ten seconds had elapsed past third contact, the world quickly brightened.  Everything in the world was slowly returning to normal…except for those who bore witness to totality.  We had seen something so majestic, so much more powerful than ourselves that I was a bit saddened at the sheer number of people who didn’t, couldn’t or refused to get a chance to see totality.

 

It is truly an experience that unites all who witness it, if in nothing more than an overwhelming sense of awe and humility.   The effect it has on onlookers simply doesn't correlate with astronomical expertise.

 

Even now, as I write this two weeks after the event, I feel like an ancient mariner and everyone else who didn't witness totality is a wedding guest.  But evangelizing about totality requires words that will forever elude me.  So I find myself, like so many eclipse veterans, urging others, “you’ve just got to see one.  I can’t explain it.  You have to see it.”

 

Clear Skies,
Phil

Phil....what a great write up!  We have much in common.  I'm from just down the road, in Massillon.  And wound up taking in the eclipse about 70 miles apart, as the crow flies!  And we both find ourselves searching for words to describe something that wasn't meant to be spoken.  It must be felt.

 

 

Damien



#85 Thundermoon1994

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 02:58 PM

I first read about the eclipse more than 20 years ago as a space-crazed child in the reading room of the Massillon (Ohio) Public Library.  It was something I tucked away into a corner in the back of my mind.  Someday, I was going to do whatever it took to witness this great spectacle. 

 

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I still live in northeast Ohio, which would only receive about 85% lunar coverage.  So, early this Spring, I set about trying to convince my wife that taking a road trip to America's heartland was a reasonable use of resources and vacation time.  We're normally beach vacationers, so this wasn't an easy sell!  But I was able to wear her down over time, and we were in agreement by July that this was something we would do.  We would travel the American highways in pursuit of the moon's shadow!

 

Following the advice of Mr. Eclipse, Fred Espenak, I decided the best approach was to commit to a fully mobile strategy.  I didn't book any hotels...I simply poured over historical weather data to select 4 locations, and we would head out west with the hope that fate (and hotel vacancy signs) would be in our future.  My poor wife is more of a planner, and a bit of a nervous traveler anyway, so she was really out of her comfort zone with this trip! flowerred.gif

 

Our sites were (in order of preference): 1. Loess Bluffs National Recreation Area northwest of Kansas City, 2. Meramec State Park near Sullivan, Missouri, 3. Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge near North Platte, Nebraska, and 4. "somewhere in Tennessee, probably the Nashville area".  I wasn't too concerned about this last option: Based on my weather research, I really thought that was the least likely place we'd end up.

 

I picked my wife up at work at the end of her shift on Thursday, August 17th around 10:00 PM, with our luggage and astronomy gear packed, along with our 5-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter nearly asleep in the back seat.  Our plan was to at least make it to the Indiana border before getting a hotel room.  Unfortunately all the hotel rooms along I-70 in Indiana were booked...I suspect it was due to parents taking their kids back to college.  We finally found a room around 4:00 AM near Indianapolis.  At least I was able to charm the girl at the front desk, and negotiate the price down. 

 

About 5 hours later, we set off for Terre Haute, Indiana where we took the kids to an excellent children's museum.  Later that afternoon, we visited Casey, Illinois where they have "the world's largest stuff", including the largest rocking horse, mailbox, and wind chimes, among many other such objects.  The kids enjoyed it, and it was definitely a neat place to check out.  The people were very friendly, and happy to tell us their story.

 

The real non-astronomy highlight of this trip, for me at least, was taking in the baseball game in Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday night.  By an amazing coincidence, my beloved Cleveland Indians happened to be in town, and I had always wanted to visit the Royal's home ballpark.  For those who don't know, this Kaufman Stadium is uniquel in that it features a series of impressive water fountains lining the outfield.  And our #1 preferred eclipse location was only an hour away!...Unfortunately, it was becoming clear by Friday night that Kansas City was likely going to be experiencing thunderstorms during totality.  No bueno!  So while we were still heading west toward Kansas City for Saturday's ballgame, we booked a cheap motel near our #2 site in eastern Missouri.  My wife insisted that we book somewhere.  She was sure that every hotel in America would be gone and we'd have to sleep in our car! lol.gif .  She really would have been much happier picking one location and just hoping for the best.

 

The game was excellent on Saturday, and our Indians won 6-0, but by that evening, the forecast had also deteriorated for eastern Missouri.  This was also about the time that my wife rebelled and said we weren't going to western Nebraska (our #3 site).  It was too far from home, she said, since my son was supposed to meet his 1st grade teacher a day after the eclipse.  So, against all expectations, we were going to head toward Nashville.  But where? I had no idea. 

 

Back in the hotel room after the game, my wife and I searched and searched all throughout Tennessee near the path of totality.  After more than an hour of searching, I booked a room in a cheap hotel in Holladay, Tennessee, about an hour and a half south of totality.  We would be going to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, which is a large tract of Federal land spanning the Kentucky-Tennessee border.  I used NASA's interactive eclipse map to select a site on the park's eastern edge along the Cumberland River on the Kentucky side.  We were only about 20 miles from the point of greatest eclipse in Hopkinsville, KY.

 

I was so anxious about the traffic nightmares they were predicting. I woke up my family at 5:00 AM Monday morning, a full hour earlier than I had told them - they weren't pleased!  But several grumpy looks and sighs later, we were on the road around 5:45.  When we passed through a small town 20 minutes later, we stopped to fill up the gas tank and then our stomachs at McDonald's.  We encountered no delays on the way north toward the path of totality, and reached our chosen site with ZERO competition.  We were the only ones there at 7:45, but at least we had our pick of spots!  We chose a nice area near the eastern tree line, which kept us in the shade all morning.  I had plenty of time to set up my gear, and the 3 tablets we brought kept the kids occupied the 5 hours until totality.  The shade was really a big plus, because the heat index climbed north of 105 degrees!! All morning long, the skies were a crystal clear blue with only the occasional high wispy cloud.  One huge unexpected benefit of coming back east was that my sister was able to meet up with us.  She was planning on heading to Tennessee, but changed course to take it in with us.

 

The kids might have been in the shade, but I wasn't.  And I was sweating like crazy.  Between the high temps, and my sweat falling on the trackpad, my laptop became erratic and then simply locked up altogether.  At my wife's suggestion, I turned on the car and let the computer cool down.  It meant that I would lose much of the early partial shots I had planned to take, but it ended up saving the day for my totality plans.

 

As we got about 45 minutes out from the 1:24 PM 2nd contact, I noticed several large fluffy clouds along the horizon on all sides of us.  I was scared that convection was going to win the day and cloud us out!  But I was trying not to feel any more anxious than I already was, so I just did my best to ignore them.

 

About 20 minutes before totality, we noticed a significant reduction in temperature.  I didn't bring a thermometer, so I can't say how much, but it was actually comfortable by that point.  No more drowning my electronic devices. lol.gif

 

10 minutes prior to totality, we noticed the colors starting to change and a definite dimming of the light.

 

5 minutes before totality, those clouds were still clustered around the horizon...this was going to happen for us!!  By this point, the lighting had gotten really strange.  The colors seemed all wrong to my eyes.  It was as though we had been transported into my grandparents' old photo albums, where there was far too much red saturation.  And features on everything had become artificially sharp due to the point-source nature of our ever-shrinking Sun.

 

Totality came swiftly.  I'm not sure if you're supposed to watch the Diamond Ring with your naked eyes, but I couldn't help myself.  It was the most spectacular thing I'd every seen in my life.  That is, until second contact.  Totality came swiftly.  It's crazy how quickly everything dims in those last few seconds during the transition from the Diamond Ring to totality.

 

And then it happened.  The solar corona spread across the sky, perhaps as much as 4 or 5 solar diameters out from the moon's disk.  In that moment, I realized I had never seen the sun properly.  It's like when you've known a person for years, and then they go and do something  that you never imagined they were capable of.  I was peaking behind the curtains of time and space.  I was seeing something that I wasn't meant to witness.  There were incredible prominences visible at 3 and 5 'o clock throughout totality.  I had no idea they would be so easily visible with the unaided eye, or that we'd be able to see them the entire time.

 

I had pre-programmed Backyard EOS to run bracketed exposures throughout, but I didn't try for the Baily's Beads or the Diamond Ring.  I just wanted to watch this first totality as much as I could.  I watched the diamond ring fully, along with the first few seconds of totality, before bending down and clicking "capture'.  At that point, I walked away from my laptop, and watched everything else with my eyes.  I didn't want to miss anything, and I feel like I accomplished that goal.

 

I may be the only person who's ever said, "that lasted longer than I thought it would".  I guess I was so prepared for it to seem like "8 seconds", that I actually felt like time slowed down.  I even missed a few seconds when I had to scoop up my daughter and pull her away from the equipment.  The only thing I failed to see were Mercury and Mars.  I had some dark spots popping in my eyes from watching the diamond ring without the solar glasses, so I think they were just too faint to compete with that.  But Venus was shining brightly in the west.  Because of our location near the trees, Jupiter was obscured in the east.

 

All in all, we drove more than 2,000 miles for the privilege of standing in the shadow of the moon.  I won't go into detail about the drive home, but everything you heard about the Great American Traffic Jam is true.  Google said it should take 7 and a half hours to get home...we didn't arrive until 1:00 PM the next afternoon.  But it was all worth it.  It was an adventure I'll never forget, and I can't wait to see my next total solar eclipse.

 

Our house is actually in the path of totality for the 2024 eclipse, but I really don't want to wait that long.  I've already begun the process of trying to convince my wife to go to Chile for 2019!

 

Cheers,

Damien

 

These photos were taken with my Orion ED80T CF triplet on a Celestron Evolution mount, Orion field flattener, and Canon Rebel T6..  It was a simple setup and it worked great.  I used the Explore Scientific Suncatcher filter for the partial phases.  Controlled the camera with Backyard EOS.

 

Attached File  Great American Eclipse Final 3 Full Frame CN.jpg   299.92KB   0 downloads

 

Attached File  Eclipse Progression 18 x 12, 16 x 24 CN-1.jpg   92.81KB   0 downloads


Edited by Thundermoon1994, 21 December 2017 - 02:28 AM.

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#86 Thundermoon1994

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 02:59 PM

Attached File  Chromosphere and Prominences Close Crop CN-1.jpg   291.05KB   0 downloads


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#87 charotarguy

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 09:17 AM

Beautiful writeup Damien, stunning shots of the eclipse. I can relate with the angry faces staring at you when you woke them up earlier, I went through the same thing.


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#88 Starblind

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 05:58 PM

I only recently signed up with CN so I'm late to the party.  I've been a photographer for many years, but never really did much in the way of AP, so when the chance to shoot the eclipse came up, I decided to do something different.  I ditched the lenses, and bought a Celestron Omni XLT150 and CG4 package deal, since everyone seemed to have good things to say about the scope.  Bought a solar filter before they all ran out, and some solar film to make my own filters for the 100mm spotting scope I bought and my lenses just in case too, and set off for Carbondale, IL at 3AM in order to beat the traffic, since there were expected to be well over 100,000 people going there on that day.  Tose expectations were met.  It was nuts!

 

It was a long drive, traffic was building up but  I made it by 8.30 AM, plenty of time to get breakfast and fill up or so I thought.  Found an IHop, ran into a preacher from Texas, and a bunch of college students from Northern IL University, waited in line for 45 minutes.  Found a great spot by Orchard Lake, in a campsite, and was joined by the guy from Texas, a few German tourists, people from all over the US as well, it was surprising and amazing to meet so many different people.  Being a Brit, I was the odd one out for a change.  Got set up, and realized I was the only one with a scope AND a bunch of spare filters I made for the DSLR lenses just in case.  I had no idea these were so hard to get since I made my own.  Needless to say, I had a whole set of adapter rings so all my filters were loaned out to the German photographers and a couple of other groups with telephoto lenses.  Free beer for me for the afternoon.

 

I set up the 150, and put my Sony a6000 on there for the live view.  Amazing, everyone was glued to this tiny little LCD screen watching the moon move across the sky in real time while I snapped photos with the remote rig.  It was such a great day.  The people were awesome and everyone was so excited.  Once in a lifetime event for many of us.  Needless to say everyone wanted copies, so I obliged.  They can be found here https://1drv.ms/f/s!...Sft7ZriRLB4GYQy on Microsoft One Drive.  Please feel free to take a look, enjoy.  They are full size JPEG's so I need to downsize them to post here.  Processed from 24 Megapixel Sony RAW images in Lightroom/Photoshop.  This was my first real outing with the Omni, it wasn't perfectly collimated, and I had a crash course.  Learned a lot since then, and now I'm hooked.  Not too bad for a first effort, and everyone else loves the shots since they were right there.  Awesome people.  I'll try add a few pics here later.  

 

Clear Skies everyone!

 

Bob.



#89 Luna-tic

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 07:59 PM

Where I live in western NC was a 98% area, but I wanted totality. This was my initial dive into astrophotography, first attempts with a camera through a telescope, and I wanted a big, black circle with an ethereal glow around it. I've done tons of shooting through a telephoto lens at landscapes and action scenes, I figured, how hard can this be? Sun's bright, even through a filter. I'd had my C6 and mount less than a month.  My brother-in-law lives in Central, SC (next to Clemson), and he was dead-center in the greatest period of totality, 2 min 33 sec. He said it was fine to come down, he had to work, but I was welcome to use his house and the front lawn, so I headed down the day before the eclipse to beat the traffic. It's a two hour drive, mostly interstate, no problems.

 

Except, when I stopped to fill up with gas about 30 minutes from his house, my car wouldn't start. Nothing. Dead as a doornail. All my gear in the car, I wasn't about to leave it; I called my wife, and she said she could come get me, but it would be several hours before she could leave, so I'm stranded at a gas station off the interstate. I suppose the eclipse gods decided I was pitiful; about 45 minutes after I called my wife, just for the heck of it, I turned the key, and ....WOW! it starts right up. Not questioning the Fates, I stuck it in gear and hauled out of there; called my wife and told her not to worry. If the car quit once I got to my destination, so what? I'd at least be shooting the eclipse and I'd worry later about getting home.

 

Morning of the eclipse was crystal clear, not a cloud anywhere. I set up in the front yard next to my car, so I could use it for a bit of shade, it was supposed to be in the low 90's. As the morning progressed, and I started setting up, clouds started developing to the west in the distance, and then to the south, and the east, but straight up was still clear. By 12:30, about an hour from 1C, started seeing puffies here and there much closer, and definite thunderheads out to the west. The solar path was still clear, and as 1C approached, I was ready. I set up a Sony Action Cam, sort of like a GoPro, aimed to the west so I could get a video of the approaching shadow and the change in ambient light. I started it about 2/3 between 1C and 2C and let it run until the shadow passed after 3C.

 

I had the DSLR turned on and inserted into a diagonal, solar filter over my C6 aperture, and was tracking the Sun using the Live View, had my remote shutter release ready. I'd shot some test images right after setting up to establish a starting point for ISO and shutter speed. Suddenly I notice the eastern limb change, and immediately tripped the shutter, changed the speed and shot again, changed the speed and shot again, to bracket the exposure. I got a great shot of 1C, even had a line of sunspots visible across the disc. I reviewed the shots I'd taken and decided on a shutter speed, and then commenced shooting a series every ten minutes until a couple of minutes from 2C. About halfway to 2C, a cloud passed over the Sun, and didn't seem to be in a hurry to leave. I was thinking, "........", well you can figure out what I was thinking, disparaging the cloud's parentage and ancestry. With about 10 minutes until totality, it finally cleared the Sun.

 

About a minute to go until 2C, I got in position to whip the filter off the telescope, had the remote release in hand; The Sun's limb was shortening, the ambient light had an eerie glow, I got three quick shots trying to get Bailey's Beads, and, POW, totality. I slid the filter off and immediately shot three quick images, ramped down the ISO and shutter speed, and shot several more, changing the exposures as I went. I didn't want to lose the visual aspect, so I took about 45 seconds and did some naked-eye viewing, and shot a few wide-angle shots with my Sony Cybershot, and made sure my Action Cam was still running. Checked my watch, which I'd started the stopwatch when I pulled the filter off the scope, I had about 45 seconds to go; kept shooting images, got the filter ready to slip back on, and then set the camera's exposure to try for a Diamond ring at 3C. I think I was off just a tad on the over-exposed side, but right at 3C I got the Ring. I had some sort of strange artifact, I think it may have been a glare reflection off the primary mirror onto the inside of the corrector. There was a golden band over each side of the Sun's limb where the Ring appeared, as well as a diffraction pattern down in the corner of the image. You can see this in the Diamond Ring section. Not perfect, but a sort of accidental artistic interpretation, actually looks like a wedding band on either side of the "stone".

 

I didn't shoot much after 3C, I figured it was mostly like 1C to 2C, but backwards. Ambient light was coming back after the darkness of totality, and the local cicadas were putting on a heck of a concert. The temperature had dropped about ten degrees, a nice breeze had risen, and the sky was still clear around the Sun. What better a day could there have been? While the Sun was becoming whole again, I started tearing down and packing up. The car actually started, and I had a full tank, so here I go home, non-stop. I figured traffic would pick up quickly.......and I was right. What was a 2-hour trip from my house to the eclipse site was a 6-1/2 hour trip home. It was worth it.

Attached File  Celestron C6-A on GEM with Nikon at prime focus (4).JPG   291.45KB   1 downloadsAttached File  solar eclipse 8-2017 first contact (2).jpg   63.31KB   1 downloads

If you want to watch the video of the shadow and light changes, here it is. Skip to about 6 minutes, and watch the distant clouds change as the shadow approached. Also listen for the cicadas as the light comes back after 3C

https://www.youtube....h?v=PR5fJ8YUREc


Edited by Luna-tic, 21 December 2017 - 08:10 PM.

  • jeremiah2229, Thundermoon1994 and Astroman007 like this

#90 Thundermoon1994

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Posted 26 December 2017 - 04:13 PM

Beautiful writeup Damien, stunning shots of the eclipse. I can relate with the angry faces staring at you when you woke them up earlier, I went through the same thing.

Thank you! grin.gif

 

Yes, those faces looked much happier after totality than they did before breakfast! lol.gif



#91 REC

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Posted 31 December 2017 - 11:42 AM

 

5 a.m.

 

Darkness.

 

Wide awake.

 

I had hoped to get a longer night’s sleep, but once I awoke at 5 a.m. on the morning of August 21, 2017, I knew I couldn’t get back to sleep in our hotel room in Bowling Green, KY.

 

I have been a stargazer since I was a kid, and I was fascinated with solar eclipses.  I didn’t just know 2017 would feature the next CONUS total solar eclipse.  I knew since I was a kid the exact date was August 21, 2017.

 

Five A.M.  The Day Of.  A date always in the future…until now.  For stargazers, this was the morning of our Super Bowl.  This was what athletes must feel like on the morning of, “The Big Game”.  The adrenaline had already started coursing through my veins.  I felt like a kid on Christmas morning barreling down the stairs in that instant just before gasping in awe at the presents around the tree.

 

I did a quick appraisal of local weather forecasts and computer weather models for SW Kentucky and northern Tennessee to put me at a little bit of ease.  I skipped coffee during our continental breakfast, as I was already “wired”.

 

My fiancee and I hit the road around 8:45 a.m. CDT after a hearty breakfast.  Our intended site was the Franklin (KY) Drive-In, but we made the mistake of not having reserve tickets.  The line at the gate was already dishearteningly long when our car stopped at 9 a.m.

 

That’s when I remembered fellow Cloudy Nights and Wilderness Center Astronomy Club member Tom Kiehl had mentioned a church outside of nearby Cross Plains, Tennessee.  He mentioned several CN’ers were going to be there.  I called him and when I found out the parking lot was only sparsely occupied, I made a snap decision.

 

“Tom?”
“Yeah?”
“See you in twenty.”

 

Southbound traffic on US-31W and I-65 was still very sparse at 10 a.m. EDT.   Getting off at SR-25 and making the right turn towards Cross Plains revealed the principle reason why.  Many people had already staked out positions in fields, pull-offs, or any place that would allow them to set up.  The town was peppered with tents, tables and people in preparation for the event.

 

After going through downtown, we came across Mt. Carmel Baptist Church around 10 a.m.  I could already see several telescopes set up for H-alpha and Tom’s minivan in the parking lot next to his white-light-filtered Astroscan.  Next to him were Annie and Elaine, two photographers from Michigan who brought a canopy tent.  (I wished I’d thought of that given the infernal Tennessee heat!)  There were others from Ohio that had gathered there, including a couple and a family, both from Cincinnati, and two men in their twenties that came from within miles of where I live outside of Canton, Ohio.

 

We had around two hours to kill, so I set up my Astro-Tech AT115EDT and put in my 8-24mm Baader Zoom (33-100X on my scope) and put a full-aperture Spectrum white-light filter over the objective end.  The sun had an especially prominent sunspot grouping near its center, and to my surprise, the seeing was steady enough to allow extended viewing at 100X (8mm on the zoom).  I went over to Al’s H-alpha setup and got a nice view of the prominences on the western end of the sun.

 

After what seemed like a span of geological time had elapsed, I noticed the moon take its first nibble of the solar disk just prior to noon.  “Ok,” I thought.  “We’re underway.  Ninety minutes to go.”

 

Fifteen minutes later, the first of several cumulus clouds that had been building up in the heat of the day obscured the sun for a few minutes.  I was dreading the possibility of them obscuring the sun during the wrong minutes.  While several remarked about how pretty the clouds and sun appeared through their eclipse glasses, I bitterly said, “I hope those clouds go back to whatever hell they came from”.  (This fear was not unfounded; some locations in Nashville were clouded out during totality while the rest of the sky was mockingly blue).

 

12:45 p.m. CDT rolled around.  The sun was now close to half-obscured, and the biggest cumulus cloud that had covered up the sun for over ten minutes had moved off.  This was the first time we noticed the reduced illumination; the light looked like it was filtered by clouds that were no longer there.

 

1:00 CDT came and went with the sun now close to two-thirds covered.  We could feel a slight but nonetheless welcome respite from the heat.  Even better, I noticed the clouds had stopped building and had started to thin out.  Since cumulus clouds are formed by convective means, it stood to reason the reduction in solar radiation accompanying an eclipse would cause them to dissipate, much like how they typically do towards sunset.

 

By 1:15 CDT, the sun was about 80% covered.  We started noticing our shadows sharpening up dramatically.  The temperature had started to cool off noticeably by this point.  Shadows were sharpening dramatically, and we could see the shadows of individual pine needles and strands of my fiancee’s hair on the pavement.  I pulled the eyepiece out of my telescope and hooked my DSLR for prime-focus imaging.  I put the camera in movie mode and used the Live View screen to focus.

 

The sun was about 90% covered at 1:20 CDT.  I had seen a similar diminution during the May 1994 annular eclipse from northern Ohio.  Temperatures were continuing to drop and I could no longer feel any warmth from the anemic sun.  Still, as a veteran of five partial and one annular eclipse, this was something I’d seen before.  Nothing out of the ordinary.

 

That would turn out to be the last ordinary minute of my life.

 

In contrast to the 1994 eclipse, 90% obscuration was just a waypoint, not a culmination.  Being in a rural setting meant we were surrounded by the sounds of nature, but their serenade had gone strangely quiet.  The blueness of the sky deepened into a metallic hue, while the landscape seemed like it was bathed in a subtle yellowish hue.

 

The eeriness of this can’t be understated.  Between the fading sunlight, unsettling quietness and deepening of the blue sky, it felt like the world was winding down or replaced by a diligently-replicated alien facsimile.  We had no longer come to an eclipse; the eclipse was an awesome, unstoppable force plowing straight towards us, closing in all sides.

 

Two minutes to totality.  The sun was more than 95% obscured and looked as if viewed through very thick sunglasses.  The clouds had all but dissipated and the air temperature had dropped to a downright pleasant level.  The illumination was dimming rapidly, almost in real-time.  Still sunlit, but with the wobbliness of a bruised boxer who knew he wouldn’t last another round.  The solar crescent had become impossibly thin.

 

A plethora of conflicting emotions and thoughts took over in a way difficult to describe.  I felt an instant bond across time with those who’d painstakingly calculated the circumstances of solar eclipses and the ancient ones petrified by the sight of this spectacle.  I had painstakingly researched total eclipses, watched countless YouTube videos, and talked with those who’d witnessed totality.  I had prepared myself for what, when and where to watch for various phenomena, but I learned in the dying sunlight the one true lesson of totality--there are no preparations for what you **FEEL**.  And a total eclipse isn’t just seen, it’s felt.  Right down to the core.

 

With the sun now 99% obscured, the world around us changed at a bewildering pace.  The illumination was disappearing at almost an alarming pace.  We could see the orange “sunset” hues off towards the northeast, 90 degrees away from the orientation of the approaching shadow.  The light was fading rapidly, and the parking lot lights were starting to come on.

 

My internal “freak meter” was already red-lining, but the next thirty seconds buried the needle.  With just fifteen seconds to go, I pulled the filter off the objective, revealing the Diamond Ring Effect and corona on the camera’s Live View screen transitioning to that one moment I’d waited for almost all my life—second contact.  I had finally, finally seen totality.

 

I might live to 100.  I might get hit by a bus tomorrow.  I know this—I will draw my final dying breath never having found the words to describe second contact.

 

Never.

 

Every time I try to concisely describe that moment, it’s like crushing a balloon—squeeze one end, and helplessly watch as the other bulges out.  Every thought carries its own contradiction.  The moment felt like the universe had completely stopped, yet over instantaneously.  I felt like a part of a grand, majestic universe and yet an infinitesimal speck.   My soul felt like it had soared to heaven, yet body-slammed at the same time.  I could hear exclamations of joy, triumph and excitement interlaced among "OH MY GOD!!" and the sounds of onlookers crying.  Totality isn't just a sky event.  It's literally a life-changing experience.

 

It bore some similarity to witnessing the birth of my two daughters.  It’s not the *same* emotion.  But they both draw from the same well—a place so deep, so ingrained in your soul, so hard-wired into the very fabric of your being that words will never suffice.  It simply has to be experienced and FELT.

 

I’ll never forget the appearance of the corona.  There were three prominent “wings” easily visible to the naked-eye.  Many photos shows the corona as a largely uniform glow.  Visually, it was FAR different, appearing like magically-suspended, glowing strands of cotton candy or spider silk.

 

Totality lasted 159 seconds.  It felt like 1.59 seconds.  Third contact greeted us with the second “diamond ring”.  After a second or two, I averted my gaze to prevent eye injury, but I do remember one curious thing about the diamond ring—it didn’t just sparkle.  For lack of a better term, it twinkled.  An impossibly bright, twinkling “star” comprising just a tiny fraction of a percent of the photosphere.

 

After ten seconds had elapsed past third contact, the world quickly brightened.  Everything in the world was slowly returning to normal…except for those who bore witness to totality.  We had seen something so majestic, so much more powerful than ourselves that I was a bit saddened at the sheer number of people who didn’t, couldn’t or refused to get a chance to see totality.

 

It is truly an experience that unites all who witness it, if in nothing more than an overwhelming sense of awe and humility.   The effect it has on onlookers simply doesn't correlate with astronomical expertise.

 

Even now, as I write this two weeks after the event, I feel like an ancient mariner and everyone else who didn't witness totality is a wedding guest.  But evangelizing about totality requires words that will forever elude me.  So I find myself, like so many eclipse veterans, urging others, “you’ve just got to see one.  I can’t explain it.  You have to see it.”

 

Clear Skies,
Phil

Phil....what a great write up!  We have much in common.  I'm from just down the road, in Massillon.  And wound up taking in the eclipse about 70 miles apart, as the crow flies!  And we both find ourselves searching for words to describe something that wasn't meant to be spoken.  It must be felt.

 

 

Damien

 

I read posts like this and get depressed. I miss both diamond rings. I was futzing with my PST the last few minutes observing the partial phase ans saw it was getting close to totality. Switched to my mounted 9x63 binos and just as I was pointing them up to the sun, our leader yelled out, totality! When I got the sun in the view, the diamond ring was over and totality just started. Beautiful view of the corona and wing like structures. Pulled a way for a few seconds to see it with my naked eye and Venus to the right. Went back to the biono's for the remaining time. At the end, I could see one side becoming bright red and Bailly was coming. Pulled away just as the diamond ring was to about fornm as I did not want to damge my eye looking through the bino's. Learned later that I could have stayed for a second or two to see the ring without any damage:(

 

But, can't complain for the 2:33 seconds we had with a very excited crowd. Looking forward to 2014 in Texas!


Edited by REC, 31 December 2017 - 11:46 AM.



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