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.
The solar eclipse from 21st of August 2017. What should you do if you don’t have a brother in a nearby location? We came up with eleven items.
A silver metallic Moon has shown up at my bedroom’s window.
Its hidden through a veil of grey thin clouds, which seem to be pressing against the jagged mountain line in straight horizontal banding. She, who used to be a huge and round disk of bright light, is now smudged in all directions, with charcoal of darkness.
It’s a rather faint galaxy, but remember, that even in a galaxy far, far away there are always great things happening, sometimes unnoticed, but like life sometimes the small unnoticed things have a great impact for our lives and can keep us centered and on track.
“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 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.”
Mention the words “cloudy night” to a star gazer, and they’ll mumble and grumble and say something like “Might as well get some sleep.” Of course in the southern hemisphere this takes on a whole different meaning. Cloudy night in this treasure trove of heavenly delights refers to an evening exploring our companion galaxies, the large and small Magellanic Clouds. And for northern star gazers this is very high (if not number 1) on the must see list. How amazing it must be to see another galaxy so large that you could fit 20 full moons across its diameter. That’s the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), and for the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) we’re looking at about 9 full moons. Let’s spend a moment exploring these clouds.
Finding directions from the stars has never been easier. In the modern times, everyone has a phone app.
However, there are some old tricks just in case you run out of battery with or without maps.