“Any photographer that has a question that needs an answer can use PhotoPills. Beginners use it to find sunrise and set times, golden hour and blue hour times…” (my favourite is actually all the crepuscular information) “and for basic calculations like depth of field. Then we have the photographers that plan their Sun, Moon and Milky Way shots… it all depends on your needs.”
Sunlight lit up the hotel room as Gary pulled back the curtains and exclaimed, “Look at those clouds.” I laughed. Today is the one day where nobody cares about the weather. I wouldn’t mind going through a whole day without watching a weather report.
What’s the world like after a total solar eclipse? Pretty much like it was before. Even just 24 hours later, Michael said that it felt like the Moons encounter with the Sun was a week ago. Ginger got home to California and started to feel an emotional low. “It was so incredible, and now it’s hard to process everything.”
I asked Michael what he thought of his first total solar eclipse experience. I ran a planetarium for 35 years, so he put it in that perspective for me. “It was like a natural laser light show.” he began. “I barely looked through the telescope. You have to immerse yourself in everything around you; the dark sky and the 360° sunset. It made me feel truly small in this vast universe.”
They came. They came in cars, and trucks, and jeeps and RV’s, some pulling trailers and some pulling campers. They represented all ages from children to teens to adults to seniors. Across the flat plain they set up cities of nylon and aluminium and wood and plastic. Some contained aligned structures of optical glass to peer into the universe. They all arrived with dreams of seeing the most spectacular sight of nature; a total solar eclipse.
Do we go or do we stay? That’s the tune for the day as we reach our weather decision deadline. We had a teleconference with Adam Jones, our Colorado meteorologist. Galveston, Tennessee he says has a 100% chance and western Idaho and eastern Oregon have 95%. His prediction for our site include some high clouds which may or may not block totality. The weather wouldn’t be any different until we get at least 300 miles away. However, the odds are still in our favor, and today he gives us a 75% chance of seeing totality…
Preparations are set in town and at the Park, as both are just waiting for the people to arrive. I imagine the situation is the same all across the eclipse path. People will start to arrive this weekend with the great masses pulling in late Sunday or early Monday for a glimpse of totality. I have friends all along the eclipse path. Oregon, Idaho, western and central Wyoming, and we’re in eastern Wyoming expecting another 26 people (most arriving Sunday). Other friends are setting up sites in western Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee and South Carolina. I wish them all clear skies, and I’m looking forward to sharing stories and images of their eclipse pilgrimage.
It is often said that you should just enjoy totality- it’s so short, just soak it in. I agree with that. I also agree with Gary that it’s great to bring back your own souvenir; your own image. And as educators we love those images so we can share it with our students. So my goal is to do both.
Since no one has experienced a total solar eclipse passing through their town, it can be hard for City Council to know what to expect. Guernsey has 5 hotels, 5 restaurants, 2 grocery stores and 2 gas stations for some 30,000 people on eclipse day. So you have two choices you can either be “eclipse friendly” or “eclipse unfriendly”.
Yesterday afternoon we loaded and secured our gear into Yurt 4 as a tremendous storm approached our position. The picture of the storm would’ve been perfect with a few lightning strikes below, but apparently that wasn’t Mother Nature’s plan even though we heard the roar of thunder echo constantly across the valley. Today when we arrived it was a completely different story. The sky was beautifully clear and as Gary and I set up our telescopes we practiced on the Sun. We’re ready. Is Mother Nature?
Adventure is just bad planning…
We have this trip well planned. We have been considering it for many years. We have secured a site and will arrive six days before the event, test our equipment extensively (yet again), and make any corrections as necessary. We have redundant equipment, provisions of food, water gas, and backup plans in place.
Two minutes and 15 seconds. A lot of conversation and planning for years has been spent preparing for those few fleeting moments. It’s called the Great American Eclipse, the first total eclipse to fall across the continental United States since 1979 when the path skirted a few northwestern states. It is the first total solar eclipse to go from sea to shining sea across our country since 1918. Due to its accessibility it is being touted as being the most watched eclipse in the history of the world.