´╗┐Witnessing a Total Solar Eclipse

By the time this is posted, by the time you read this, the eclipse will be long over. You will have been flooded by images and descriptions of this event from thousands of sources. However, this blog is a personal diary, I will put down my thoughts and memories before they grow dim, post my photos, and preserve the experience for myself.

Solar Corona
An HDR view of the solar corona from the 21Aug2017 solar eclipse

Our plan was simple, camp out well ahead of time in a site that had been carefully selected and scouted. Jody and Larry camped along side this little pretty meadow earlier in the summer, noting that it would serve quite well. They also arrived first, five days before the eclipse, and minutes ahead of others that sought this same place.

The plan worked, and worked well. In the days leading up to the eclipse dozens of vehicles came past, each looking with envy at those who had arrived early to claim the best spots. The stream of vehicles continued late into Sunday eve, no matter, this forest offers room for all.

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Solar Eclipse Blog

Yes, DarkerView has been a solar eclipse blog over the last couple weeks. No worries, it will soon be over and regular programming will resume… After the obligatory photos from the eclipse expedition!

Sun on Aug 10, 2017
The Sun as it appeared August 10, 2017 with sunspot AR2670
A few articles? Yes, just a few…

Total Solar Eclipse 2017
Eclipse Observing Checklist
The Eclipse Plan
Safe Eclipse Viewing
Two Solar Film Filters
Countdown to the Eclipse
The Sun on Eclipse Day
The Solar Corona on Eclipse Day
Correcting a Baader Solar Film Solar Image
The Eclipse Petroglyph
Hodgepodge

Miss any?

A Crescent Moon Rises

Ahead of our aircraft a crescent Moon is rising. Outside the window it is completely dark, a blackness broken only by the strobing anticollision lights across the wing and the rising Moon.  Seattle is still hours away as we cross the Pacific, there are no city lights below to break the darkness.

Boarding Alaska flight 850 in Kona
Boarding Alaska flight 850 in Kona
The waning crescent phase is another reminder that the total solar eclipse I have been anticipating is very near, only a few days now. Not that I really need a reminder, the entire reason I am on this flight is to meet the Moon once more, to catch the moment when it blots out the Sun.

Somewhere below me in the cargo hold is the telescope mount, assembled from restored and hand made parts.  In the luggage bin overhead is the telescope, the little refractor that is a prized posession. Through it I have watched and photographed eagles and whales, volcanic eruptions, and distant galaxies.  At my feet is a pack with a few cameras in it, only five.

For over a decade I have awaited the coming of this event.  A day that once seemed so remote draws swiftly near as a rising crescent Moon portends.

The Eclipse Plan

With a little short of two minutes of totality I need to go into this with a plan. I do want a few photos, but I also want to experience the eclipse. How do I balance that?

Hodgepodge
Hodgepodge setup on the side of Mauna Kea with the TV-76mm and Telrad on the plate
The important bit here is that I am going to give myself time to simply enjoy the eclipse and not spend the whole time futzing with the camera gear. When totality begins I will simply sit back and watch. To that end I have thought through a shot plan that may just accomplish this balance.

The plan calls for three cameras… A single camera on a solar telescope, this will be primarily run on automatic with an intervalometer. I just need to check focus and centering of the solar image periodically during the long partial phases. I will use part of totality to attend to this camera and take a deep corona photo.

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The Sun on Eclipse Day

A few days ago I looked at the solar imagery from the spacecraft and ground observatories and feared that our Sun would be completely spotless for next week’s solar eclipse. The one sunspot visible had just rotated out of view, not to return until well after the eclipse. There were no other sunspots apparent.

SOHO Sunspots Aug 15, 2017
SOHO sunspots on Aug 15, 2017 showing the newly formed AR2671
Our Sun has served up a very nice surprise. A complex and energetic sunspot group has formed. Better yet it will be just about mid-disk when the Moon arrives.

Sunspot group AR2671 formed on the eastern limb of the Sun over the last couple days. It has even produced a few c-class solar flares to show it has some vigor.

Better yet… This sunspot group will be a boon to eclipse photographers across the US. The pattern of dark spots will make the difficult task of focusing a telescope on the Sun far easier. These spots will provide a focus target to untold telescopes.

The only question now is will the group last for five more days? Will is grow or shrink.

The Eclipse Petroglyph

Among the petroglyphs at Horsethief Lake is one that has always caused me to wonder. Of course the site is home to the famous Tsagaglalal or She-Who-Watches image. This is not the one I refer to, rather a somewhat smaller and usually overlooked image.

Eclipse Petroglyph at Horsethief Lake
Eclipse Petroglyph at Horsethief Lake
To me this petroglyph is obviously a total solar eclipse.

To my eye the image is clearly that of the solar corona surrounding the black shadow of the Moon against the Sun. The image is all the more striking to me personally… In 1979 I witnessed a total solar eclipse, my first, just a short distance from here, from the bluffs above Maryhill.

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