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Author Topic: Solar Eclipse 2024  (Read 1830 times)

bob

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Solar Eclipse 2024
« on: April 18, 2024, 09:40:45 pm »

Went on my 4th total eclipse trip a couple of weeks ago.

Previously I had done the 1979 eclipse for which I created the telescope I still use. It's a 4.5" newtonian reflector. I ground, polished and parabolized the mirror to approximately F8 giving a 1/2" image at prime focus in my film camera at the time.
That eclipse was in North Dakota on the Canadian border in winter, very very cold. My oldest friend Bruce (Astronomy TA at the U of MN at the time) invited me onto the trip with the U of MN Physics/Astronomy department.
It was cold enough that his film actually shattered in the camera when he tried to rewind it. I used Ektachrome 200 and it was OK. I developed it myself pushing it to 400 and got some very nice pictures using my (in 1971) $100 guided equatorial mount.
During the 1979 eclipse I looked through the eyepiece a few times and after the eclipse decided I'd not take pictures again. The view through the eyepiece was just too spectacular. It really looked alive and 3d.

Bruce and I met up again for the 1991 Eclipse in Baja. We flew down 2 nights before. Camped in the desert next to the airport and walked (in August) from the airport to Cabo the next day. It took me a day to recover from the effects of that walk! The next day we took a cab back to the airport for the eclipse. Back then the airport was in the middle of nowhere. Cabo had only 1 hotel.
Our plane back was scheduled to leave after totality but during the partials after. The weather was AMAZING. In contrast to the 2.5 minute eclipse in 1979 this one was a whopping 7.5 minutes. I brought only a binoculars and a camera. I took a few shots but spent most of my time looking through the binoculars. It was absolutely stunning!

Fast forward to 2017. We got together again, this time my partner Donna went with to the 2.25 minute eclipse in Nebraska, this time loaded with my 1979 scope and an inverter. We camped the night before and the next morning it was totally cloudy. With about 5 hours before totality we began chasing for a clear spot using online real time maps from NOAA.gov. We did very well finding a spot near Ravenna NE. There were very light high cirrus clouds but it was fine. This time I really paid attention to the approaching shadow bands and shadow, the utter quiet when the birds fell silent and the cool wind that happened just as totality snapped in. I had some great views in the scope, sharing with Bruce, Donna and a family that had traveled from Alaska to see it. It was over SOOOOO fast!

One more fast forward to April 8th 2024. Bruce and I had been planning this for a year or so but after flying into Minneapolis from his home in California, he got sick and couldn't go. We were planning on camping in Waco TX. My original destination was San Antonio. As the day approached it looked like S. Texas was actually going to get thunderstorms so Donna and I re-adjusted our plan. Looking at the weather the day before we decided to head toward Poplar Bluff MO which looked like the best bet. As we drove through a horrible wind and rain storm we decided to change to nearby Southern Illinois. We found the Johnson Creek Recreation area where the campsites were full but the park rangers had planned ahead and opened up a large area by the boat launch for free overflow camping, they even brought in a bunch of porta potties! There were a bunch of people there including a group from the Nebraska Astronomy Club that had setup their equipment. They had lots of up to the moment weather info and they had a lot of gear. They were staying put. In the morning (it was cloudy) we weren't so sure that was the place to be and since we were easily mobile we packed up and left to go towards Poplar Bluff where it LOOKED like the band of opening between the clouds would be close to centered. On the weather map it looked like the jaws of an alligator! We also had friends that went that direction so we thought we may meet up. As time approached a decision had to be made. Driving back to the center line we arrived at the small town of Zalma, MO and saw a good sized group on the highest spot in the area just off of the road and decided to pitch anchor. A friendly group (they always are) some people from MN, FL, TN and TX all new friends :)
A bit of anxiety watching as the whispy high cirrus parted during partials just in time for the totality.
The sky gets darker and darker but your eyes adjust to it until just before totality. Everything gets super quiet, the 2 bald eagles flying nearby went to their nest, all of birds stop chirping and the chill wind blew just as the sun blinked out. All of a sudden there was darkness, planets and bright stars visible and this absolutely beautiful orb above us. As the light blinked out the children in the group next to us who had been somewhat bored with the partials whooped in excitement (with the rest of us)! We immediately started viewing through the scope. Amazing as ever, it never gets old. This is a nice long eclipse so there is time to gaze before switching off. I move to the binoculars for a wide field view which is completely different and also totally amazing while Donna looks through the scope. Our neighbor from FL comes by for a peek (his first eclipse) and is in rapture. I snap a couple of pics on my camera after making some manual settings. It's a 30x optical zoom so the image is decent size but I don't want to spend really any time on it. After all there are always going to be better pics than yours! As the moon moved towards 3rd contact the prominence that was in the lower left corner turns out to be a flaming loop of material!! So awesome! With a few seconds left on the timer I get Donna back to the eyepiece to see it.... Stunning.
And it's over. Everyone is excited with delight at what they saw and the birds start back up. After a nice hour of conversation with our new friends and the local guy that came by on his four wheeler we set out to return. We decide to hang around the area exploring the Ozarks and confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi and camp another night to avoid the traffic jams going back.

Next up, Sanaa in 2027???

https://pix01.jriver.com/gallery/AFDE32E0-CE15-405D-8120-8010AE955883/Eclipse2024/
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zybex

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Re: Solar Eclipse 2024
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2024, 04:19:52 am »

Very cool, thanks for sharing!
I'm hoping to see the 2027 one in Gibraltar. Or 2028 in Sydney :)

Isn't it tricky to travel to Yemen as an US citizen?
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rec head

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Re: Solar Eclipse 2024
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2024, 06:03:00 am »

We were in Nashville Indiana for it. Near perfect conditions for my first totality.
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JimH

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Re: Solar Eclipse 2024
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2024, 08:04:42 am »

Great writeup, Bob!  Thanks!
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bob

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Re: Solar Eclipse 2024
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2024, 09:06:45 am »

Very cool, thanks for sharing!
I'm hoping to see the 2027 one in Gibraltar. Or 2028 in Sydney :)

Isn't it tricky to travel to Yemen as an US citizen?
Well it is a couple of years away. One can hope. Sanaa is one of the most amazing cities in the world and I've wanted to go there for quite a while.
The old city is a UNESCO world heritage site. It's high and dry. Really good for an eclipse.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanaa
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antenna

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Re: Solar Eclipse 2024
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2024, 07:17:38 pm »


Thank-you to NOAA ...

 
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