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Thread: StarLog - 8/21/2017 - Great American Eclipse!

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    Default StarLog - 8/21/2017 - Great American Eclipse!



    I realize this is pretty late, but we just got home early yesterday morning (as in just after midnight) and we spent part of today preparing for Hurricane Harvey. I finally found a few minutes this afternoon to jot down a few thoughts about my experience...


    On Saturday, August 19, my wife, nephew and I traveled to Kansas to see the total eclipse. We flew to Tulsa, Oklahoma and then rented a large SUV (dubbed The Eclipsemobile) to drive on into Iola, Kansas where my parents and brother live. We spent the night in Iola and then the six of us journeyed northward to Lawrence on Sunday. This would put us only about 90 minutes away from the eclipse location we had reserved near Hiawatha, Kansas.

    Monday morning's drive to the eclipse site was uneventful. Traffic was light all the way, which surprised me a little. Perhaps everyone arrived early and us last-minute travelers got lucky.

    The morning was partly cloudy, with a lot of high cirrus clouds and a few cumulus clouds. If the sky remained like this, chances were good we'd get to see the eclipse. However, the farther north we went, the worse the skies became. By the time we had arrived at our destination, only small sucker holes were visible in a gray, overcast sky.

    I wasn't about to travel 750 miles just to call it quits, so I set up anyway. There were about 50 of us altogether at the farm. About half an hour before the eclipse, it began sprinkling off and on. Everyone scrambled to put covers over their telescopes. I didn't have a telescope cover, but grabbed a spare shirt my brother had brought and used it.

    A few of the folks gave up and left to try to find clearer skies. We looked at the map and nothing really looked any better that was within driving distance, so we decided to stay and see what happened. Amazingly, even as it was still sprinkling, the sun started shining through a small hole in the clouds. I ran out of the barn and back to my telescope, taking off the shirt and aiming the scope at the sun. A little rain shouldn't hurt - I've had dew on my telescope that was worse than this. I soon was rewarded with a nice view of the eclipse in the sun funnel, but it was a bit surreal to be wiping raindrops off the projector screen while it was showing me the eclipsing sun.



    We started getting excited, thinking that the sucker hole would last long enough for us to see totality. But alas, it wasn't meant to be. About 5-10 minutes before totality, the hole closed back up again. Forget the need for solar filters and eclipse glasses. We were even having difficulty telling where the sun was with our naked eye.

    Everyone had their telescopes and cameras at the ready, just in case the sun decided to come out again. An app on my phone called out times. "One minute to totality." Bleh! Nothing was visible, except for noticing the ever-darkening sky.

    In spite of not seeing totality, we did notice some of its effects on the environment. For one, the gusting wind had died down almost completely. The dark twilight was deepening fast and the birds stopped chirping. Many of us saw the shadow of the moon rush across the clouds as totality hit, putting us in skies too dark to read by. And then we saw the 360 degree sunset shining through holes in the clouds along the horizon. In every direction, it looked like the sun was setting, creating a nice wide stripe of orange next to the dark blue and gray sky. No doubt about it: even without seeing the sun go dark, this experience was worth the trip.

    Then, all too soon, the dark shadow raced across the sky again and we knew totality was over. The orange bands had disappeared, the birds began singing again, and the wind started picking back up. But looking up towards the sun, we were greeted with another sight: the sun was peeking through again!



    The sun was such a narrow crescent and we were all looking at it with our naked eyes, thanks to the cloud cover. It seemed like I was standing on another world. I heard someone cheering. I really don't know if it was myself or someone else. It could have been me. I was mesmerized.

    The clouds seemed to be opening up a bit more, and soon everyone was putting on their eclipse glasses and aiming their gear at the sun again. Although the clouds remained, they were a bit more transparent and we were able to watch most of the rest of the eclipse as the moon slowly slid away from the sun again.

    Going back home afterwards, traffic got heavy quickly and the three hour drive back to Iola took us six hours. During the long trip, we all reflected on what we had seen and despite the cloud cover, rain, and missing out on totality, we agreed that it was worth it all and we'd do it again in a heartbeat.

    My Dad is in his eighties and has worsening eyesight. He tried the eclipse glasses and the filtered binoculars and wasn't able to see anything at all. But he could easily see the eclipse through my sun funnel, so I'm very glad I brought it. We were able to see the sunspots on the projected screen, but the photographs didn't record them very well. I knew that with the sun funnel in place, I wouldn't be getting a lot of fine details of the sun, but having my Dad be able to see the eclipse was the main thing to me.
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    Default Re: StarLog - 8/21/2017 - Great American Eclipse!

    Tom, thank you for sharing this story. I spent a lot of time thinking about what it would be like to drive 880 miles and then be clouded out. I am happy to hear it was just as meaningful for you and your group. It's great you got to share it with your Dad.

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    Default Re: StarLog - 8/21/2017 - Great American Eclipse!

    Hey Tom! I've been waiting on this report! Was following your trip progress via FB.

    Dang, darn clouds! That's too bad, man. That kept Shelley and I home to watch the partial as our destination had a rather ugly forecast that indeed stayed ugly. But, after reading all the other reports here from those that witnessed totality, I regret not putting forth more effort.

    How was the traffic on the return drive?

    Looking forward to 2024! Come hell or high water, we are going to see totality then!

    Thanks for sharing your experience, my friend, and I hope Harvey isn't terrible for you. Good luck on that front and stay safe!
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    Default Re: StarLog - 8/21/2017 - Great American Eclipse!

    Quote Originally Posted by bobharmony View Post
    Tom, thank you for sharing this story. I spent a lot of time thinking about what it would be like to drive 880 miles and then be clouded out. I am happy to hear it was just as meaningful for you and your group. It's great you got to share it with your Dad.
    Thanks, Bob! Yes. Besides the fading vision, my Dad also has prostrate cancer that is currently being held in check by medication, but is inoperable. I really don't think he will live to see the next total eclipse, so I'm glad my family was able to share this moment together. He thanked me several times for making it possible.

    As for the clouds - very disappointing, of course. This was my first total solar eclipse and I was hoping to see Baily's Beads, the Diamond Ring, the corona, prominences, and other features of totality. Alas, it will have to wait for another 7 years. If I had stayed home in College Station, I would have been treated to about 70% coverage, but the other effects of the eclipse that I could witness made the trip worth it.

    Quote Originally Posted by bladekeeper View Post
    Hey Tom! I've been waiting on this report! Was following your trip progress via FB.

    Dang, darn clouds! That's too bad, man. That kept Shelley and I home to watch the partial as our destination had a rather ugly forecast that indeed stayed ugly. But, after reading all the other reports here from those that witnessed totality, I regret not putting forth more effort.

    How was the traffic on the return drive?

    Looking forward to 2024! Come hell or high water, we are going to see totality then!

    Thanks for sharing your experience, my friend, and I hope Harvey isn't terrible for you. Good luck on that front and stay safe!
    Thanks, Bryan! The traffic on the way home was horrific. The line of cars went as far as the eye could see both in front of me and behind me. At times, as traffic lanes merged, traffic came to a complete standstill for a few minutes at a time. The trip from Iola, Kansas to Hiawatha, Kansas took about 3 hours total going up. It took over 6 hours coming back home.

    But hey, it's all good. I just walked in the shadow of the Moon. Nothing's gonna get me down after that!

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    Default Re: StarLog - 8/21/2017 - Great American Eclipse!

    Great report, Tom.
    I am really glad you got to do this with your Dad.
    My mother is 91 and was not able to make this event. I wish she could have been with us.

    I used a sun funnel as well and it was good for the kids and the elders.
    I am wondering why your sun funnel shows the sun in golden hues but mine is more like white light. I was using rear projection screen material. Were you using some other media?

    Thank you for sharing your eclipse journey.
    Cheers.
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    Default Re: StarLog - 8/21/2017 - Great American Eclipse!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eagleheaf View Post
    I used a sun funnel as well and it was good for the kids and the elders.
    I am wondering why your sun funnel shows the sun in golden hues but mine is more like white light. I was using rear projection screen material. Were you using some other media?
    The difference in hue is likely due to the filter on the front of the scope. Baader film will display a white image, while Thousand Oaks will be orange.
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    Default Re: StarLog - 8/21/2017 - Great American Eclipse!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eagleheaf View Post
    Great report, Tom.
    I am really glad you got to do this with your Dad.
    My mother is 91 and was not able to make this event. I wish she could have been with us.

    I used a sun funnel as well and it was good for the kids and the elders.
    I am wondering why your sun funnel shows the sun in golden hues but mine is more like white light. I was using rear projection screen material. Were you using some other media?

    Thank you for sharing your eclipse journey.
    Cheers.
    Quote Originally Posted by bladekeeper View Post
    The difference in hue is likely due to the filter on the front of the scope. Baader film will display a white image, while Thousand Oaks will be orange.
    I cheated. I screwed a yellow filter into the bottom of the eyepiece I was using.

    When using a sun funnel, no objective-end filters are needed, Bryan. It's basically the same as any other projection method.

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    Default Re: StarLog - 8/21/2017 - Great American Eclipse!

    Quote Originally Posted by starlogborg View Post
    I cheated. I screwed a yellow filter into the bottom of the eyepiece I was using.

    When using a sun funnel, no objective-end filters are needed, Bryan. It's basically the same as any other projection method.
    Ya know, I knew that. I have a habit of out-smarting myself.

    Apologies to Mark!
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    Default Re: StarLog - 8/21/2017 - Great American Eclipse!

    Tom, it's great to hear from you and to hear about your adventure. I'm sorry that you had such problems with clouds, but that's great that you nonetheless had some great eclipse viewing and even some totality experiences. And it's great that you were able to share it with your family.

    Hoping 2024 turns out even better,
    Mark
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    Default Re: StarLog - 8/21/2017 - Great American Eclipse!

    Quote Originally Posted by bladekeeper View Post
    Ya know, I knew that. I have a habit of out-smarting myself.

    Apologies to Mark!
    Its all good Bryan. It made sense...
    now I am wondering if the yellow filter improved contrast...with the funnel. You mentioned something about the quality of the sun spot image on the projection. ???
    I am interested because I am wondering how much one might be able to achieve image-wise with projection application...
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