´╗┐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.

Continue reading “´╗┐Witnessing a Total Solar Eclipse”

A Sun Finder

A few years back I posted the design of a Sun finder. With the eclipse looming it is time to highlight that post again. Aiming your telescope or camera at the Sun can be a nuisance. A problem with a really simple solution.

Sun Finder
A Sun finder mounted to a TeleVue 76mm ‘scope
The idea is simple… A pinhole that casts a small dot of light on a target. Line up the dot on the target and the Sun should be neatly in your field of view. Having used these devices many times, it really is that easy, Sun in view in seconds.

Sun Finder
A sun finder in use with the projected dot visible
My version is a custom machined part made from aluminum and plexiglass. In a crush a similar item can be made from cardboard and tape with a pair of scissors, and probably function just as well.

I would suggest light cardboard, the type used in a cereal box, and some masking tape that will peel clean off your telescope or camera. Just line up the telescope once and mark the dot of light’s position with a pen… Done.

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.

Continue reading “The Eclipse Petroglyph”