The Total Solar Eclipse of 8/21/2017.

A once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Do I even need to say it? The eclipse was a big deal in the Robinson household. I had seen one in 1970 but Sue stayed in Bowling Green and only saw a partial eclipse. We had at first thought that our home was in the path of totality but when we found an interactive map on the internet we learned that we were just outside of it. We found that the home of our best friends John and Bonnie Smith was in the path. We didn't have to do anything to wangle an invitation except to inform them of the situation. They unhesitatingly invited us to their home for the event.

Preparation.

For years I have been using a Kodak point and shoot camera that did have some DSLR like features. The cycle time of its rechargeable battery was getting shorter and because it is an orphan I know when the battery goes the camera is gone. So I bought a Nikon DSLR and a new tripod.

Also I got out the Questar and its massive tripod to make sure there wouldn't be any unexpected problems on eclipse day. Since I would have to point the axis correctly without help from the north star I bought a compass and practiced setting it up with the compass and level. I installed the lower power eyepiece and put it away with the sun filter and that eyepiece in place. Unfortunately I didn't notice a problem with the image. I haven't had time to figure out if it is the fault of that particular eyepiece or the telescope. You will see it in the pictures below.

Meanwhile Sue made another teddybear. His name is Shadow and here is his picture.

Photograph of Shadow, Official Eclipse Mascot.

Even Shadow has Safety Glasses for Viewing the Eclipse.

Eclipse Morning.

The weather forecast from the day before was doubtful. As a precaution I set up the DVR to record the Weather Channel's eclipse coverage. Also I changed the sample rate on our weather station from every 20 minutes to the shortest available, every minute. Our home is on the edge of totality so there should be a temperature drop and I didn't want to miss it.

Also we were concerned about traffic jams caused by people from north of here trying to get into town for the eclipse. John came and picked us up in his truck which would probably stand a better chance of bluffing its way into a line of traffic than a car might. As it turned out traffic in the north end of the county was no more than for a normal Monday morning. We did hear that it was heavy in the south end of the county and points south.

At the Smith's home.

Bonnie prepared a nice dinner which we enjoyed before the eclipse. (Note; In this part of the country the meal in the middle of the day is called lunch if it is only a sandwich. If it is a prepared meal it is called dinner.)

After dinner John put together a pin hole projector shown here.

The Pinhole Projector. Note the presents of Shadow.

The teddybear should have removed his eclipse glasses when viewing the pinhole projection but I guess he didn't know. After all, he's only a teddybear. Here is what he could have seen if he had removed his protective glasses.

Eclipse Projection.

Shadow and Sue View the Partial Eclipse using their safety glasses.

Bonnie Smith Holds up Shadow to View the Partial Phase Through the Questar.
Once Again He Should Have Taken Off His Safety Glasses.
The Questar Has the Necessary Sun Filter.

Bonnie Points Out the Crescents Projected on the Ground by Sunlight Passing Through Tree Leaves.

When I called Questar to order an adapter for my Nikon camera they told me they were sold out of everything. Like many hotel operators they were unprepared for the volume of interest in the eclipse. The only way I could take pictures of the partial phase was to hold my camera up to the eyepiece and snap the shutter. It worked as the next two pictures show.

Partial Phase Not Long After First Contact.

Partial Phase Nearing Second Contact. The Defect Mentioned Earlier
Can Easily Be Seen. I Hope it is the Eyepiece and not the Telescope.

Here I am Readying My Camera For Totality.

TOTALITY.

At the time of totality there was not a cloud in the sky. How about that, Weather Channel? You should have come here.

Time: 1:26 PM CDT. Exposure: f/8 @ 1/160 sec. ISO: 1600.

Time: 1:27 PM CDT. Exposure: F/8 @ 1/250 sec. ISO: 1600.

I'll be the first to grant you that the picture with the shortest exposure time looks like it has the most exposure. It may be a little out of focus. I was having trouble getting the auto focus to lock in. In fact I had to discard 2 of the 4 pictures I was able to take because they were badly out of focus. Totality was only a minute where I was located. I should have used manual focus? I didn't have any distant object to focus on before the eclipse or I would have. On an autofocus camera there is no hard stop at infinity the way old manual focus lenses used to work. In many areas we have traded away precision to gain convenience.

I handed Sue one of the old Kodak cameras and asked her to take pictures of anything she thought might be interesting. I especially suggested snapping the sun during totality. I was hoping she might pick up a planet or star. Here is what she got. I'm pretty sure those things are lens flairs not celestial objects.

Picture of Sun Taken by Sue During Totality.

Because John built his house in a heavily wooded area we did not have a view of the horizon. She took this picture of John's garage during totality. The flash fired but it isn't very strong on that camera. The picture has been included because it gives a sense of just how dark it was.

Picture of John's garage Taken by Sue During Totality.

Temperature Drop.

While we were at John's house our weather station was dutifully recording the temperature at home at the rate of a data point each minute. I brought up the display and snapped a couple of pictures of the screen. Here is the first one showing the temperature since midnight.

24 Hour Graph of Temperature Showing Drop During Eclipse.

Here is a second one with an expanded scale. I remind the reader that my home was not in the path of totality but it was very close.

Expanded Scale Version of Temperature Graph

Note that the temperature minimum is 33 minutes after totality. My house and Johns are about 10 miles apart so the difference in time between the two locations wouldn't be more than a few seconds.

Conclusion.

At the conclusion of the day we felt like "we had been road all day and put up wet" as the horsey saying goes. I am not one who is a good sleeper but that night, and into the next day, I slept 14 hours. Sue who is even a worse sleeper than I am managed to sleep 8 hours. But it was worth it. We were very lucky as the clouds stayed away from our location. The Weather Channel locations in this part of the country weren't as lucky.


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