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Eclipse Experiences



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I went down to my cousin's in the Smokey Mountains of southwest NC.  Forecast the week prior was looking spotty with 50-50 shot of clouds and rain.  Didn't matter since I was going anyway to visit my 95-year old grandmother before trekking north on Tuesday to drop off my oldest for her freshman year at Va Tech!  Leading up to the weekend, the forecast improved to a 20% chance of clouds/rain.  My hopes were high!

Set up my camera piggybacked on my telescope.  Instead of BYE (Sorry, Guylain) I ran a Magic Lantern script from another user so I couold run automatically without having to worry about the equipment - a definite plus for the experience.  I also had my webcam set up on my PST for the partials.  Had the darnedest time getting it to align in a new location the night before.  Next morning finished my setup and was tracking the sun all morning.  Then, the clouds started rolling in.  Got many shots of the pre and post partials.  Totality was nearly a washout and I assumed I got nothing.  Was my first TSE so I wasn't really worried since I had a great time.  Loved hearing the crickets chirping and the birds going to roost.  A truly neat experience.  Made it totally worth running the camera on automatic with the script.

Left afterwards and a 4.5 hour drive turned into 6 hours with the tourist traffic leaving SC and heading north then mixed in with the TN traffic heading north.  After college move in the next morning, the drive home was not better with a 4.5 hr drive turning into 6.5 hr due to a bad accident.

Once I finally got back home, I was able to view the images stored on the SD Card.  Amazingly, I did get some of the totality and if I enhance some of my shots, I even got the diamond ring and Baily's Beads.  Now I am processing the videos from the webcam to see if I can see additional details through the Ha filter.



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As promised, I'm posting an Image.

This Image is the Maximum Eclipse from my Durango Location  (shows how far from the Path of Totality that I was "stranded").

It's not a "good" image at all.  I had been shooting at a longer exposure because I was shooting through moderate cloud cover (until I got the break in the clouds right near the time of Maximum), and had yet to realize that I needed to revert to my previously planned Exposure Values.  (OK, I was staring through Eclipse Glasses to try to assess how complete the Eclipse was...)

I'm not going to fill Guylain's Server with images, as I'm hoping still others have their own Best Efforts to post.

Max Eclipse 2017 - Durango.jpg

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I viewed the eclipse from Ramkota Hotel parking lot in Casper, Wyoming. There was a huge influx of eclipse chasers into Wyoming in general and Casper in particular for the event. I arrived in Casper a week before the eclipse to attend the annual convention of the Astronomical League (ASTROCON 2017). ASTROCON ran from Wednesday through Saturday and featured a large vendor area with talks and workshops. I had the opportunity to talk with folks from Celestron, Meade, Stellarvue, and Astro-Physics, as well as several others. I attended their Star-B-Que on Friday evening and the Gala Awards Banquet on Saturday evening. I was able to see some old friends and make some new friends throughout the event. As the week wore on, more members of my Arizona club arrived in the Casper area. Several other club members chose sites in Idaho, Oregon, and elsewhere in Wyoming from which to view and image the eclipse. My hotel reserved a viewing area for us in their parking lot and we did some solar viewing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before the eclipse. The sun was more active than we had any right to expect, with multiple sunspot groups and several prominences visible. It was a treat for many locals and visitors who happened by. We had several dozen pairs of eclipse glasses to give away, but most folks already had theirs.

There was quite an international contingent in Casper for the eclipse. We met people who had traveled from New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Canada, Spain, England, Norway, and Italy. I hope that I didn't forget anyone. My niece and her husband, who live in Ohio and work at NASA, were on vacation in Montana and drove down for the event, bringing their new Celestron Nexstar Evolution HD scope.

On Monday morning I was outside at 4 AM to set my gear up and get a good polar alignment before sunrise. Gradually, I was joined by the rest of my friends. The hotel hosted a Pancake Breakfast with adult beverages beginning at 6 AM. Tequila Sunrise, anyone? As the sky brightened we saw mostly clear skies with some light clouds off in the distance. These clouds proved to be troublesome as the eclipse progressed.

Around 8 AM I was interviewed by the Casper ABC affiliate about the eclipse and my travels to attend the event. That evening I looked for the interview on their web site but was not able to find it. First contact was at 10:22 am MDT. My imaging plan must have been off by a couple of seconds because none of the 5 images that were centered around that time showed any contact, but we were off and running. I took an image every 5% of ingress between 1st and 2nd contact. As ingress progressed we got slowly, but noticeably darker and cooler. We recorded a 19 degree temperature drop between 1st contact and totality. Shadows on the ground beneath some nearby trees began to look odd at the 80% ingress point. When we got to 90% I used LiveView to see how much the sun had drifted. It was close enough that I decided that re-centering was not necessary. Focus also looked good. I also set up a GoPro camera on a tripod in the back of a friend's pickup truck to capture a video of our group during totality. I have some decent images of the Diamond Ring and totality, but they are not processed yet.

About a mile from our hotel, up on a hill, there was a crew from Time magazine. They put up a drone to shoot video of the area during totality. I later saw the sped-up video which included our hotel in the frame.

During egress, the clouds thickened and I don't have much hope for those images. I have not even looked at some of them yet. Once 4th contact had passed, I tore down my gear. As usual, since I have the most complicated setup, I was the last person to finish tearing down.

During Monday evening we heard horror stories of the traffic snarls on I-25 between Casper and Denver, including people who ran out of gas because of the delays and had to push their vehicles off the road.

I left Casper on Tuesday morning with 2 long days of travel back to Arizona. I got home and my air conditioner had quit and the grass was knee high. The A/C is now working and about half my yard has been mowed.

I will post more, with links to my images, as they become available.

I have already been looking at where I might go in Texas for the April 2024 eclipse.

I hope the rest of you BYE and BYN users had as enjoyable eclipse event as I did.

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We started our Eclipse Experience by meeting up with friends in Heber Springs, Ar. and stayed at the Stoneflower Fay Jones Cottage on Eden Isle, Greers Ferry Lake. Bats in the loft ran us to a motel after the first night. Next we made our way to Belle, Mo. where we met up with son and daughter-in-law at a Lakeside French Chateau on 25 acres overlooking some amazing Ozark scenery to the northwest all downhill. I was hoping to view the shadow onrush. The video does not show it.
The weather prospects did not looks good early Monday morning and we looked at moving to near Carbondale. Vote was to stay put. The nasty storms and clouds to our west and northwest appeared to be moving northeast and would most likely skirt away from us. That's what happened.
I was unable to acquire the right cable in time to use BYN and had to use the camera bracket & interval timer to get eclipse images. First timer errors caused focus issues and not being set on the right mid exposure to get what the camera was capable of doing itself. I did capture an amazing audio recording of all six of us reacting to the beginning of totality and the full experience. The images are with a 300mm Nikkor at f/8 near start, mid and end of totality. all automated by camera.

Time of Exposure in U.T.
1113  18:14:15
1245  18:15:27
1325  18:16:40

I watched the full total with 7x35 binoculars.

Tuesday morning the weather turned simply awesome. Clear and 53 degrees with fog hanging over the Gasconade River. A beautiful trip in so many ways

Kenneth Drake, Willis, Texas




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I started my planning about one year ago, and included an eclipse day in the northern Rockies, followed by a few days of fly fishing.  After some research on locations, weather patterns, access, and some conversations with a few fishing friends I settled on Rexburg ID for the eclipse and a four day fishing tour with Mile Lawson's angler's shop in Island Park ID, about 45 miles north of Rexburg.

Knowing what lodging would soon be a problem we booked a week (Sunday 8/20 to Saturday 8/28) at the Elk Creek Lodge, also in island Park last December.

We left our home base in Albuquerque on Friday 8/18 and reached Rexburg on 8/20 in the afternoon.  A few weeks before I did a more detailed review of the area and discovered a little-known wildlife refuge known as the Cartier Slough, located about 5 miles west of Rexburg.  We recce'd the area on Sunday and found the place essentially deserted, with miles of quite passable dirt roads through the refuge and the surrounding BLM public lands.

Driving down south from island Park on Monday morning traffic on US 20 was surprisingly light, and we set up by about 0800 local.  The weather was excellent, eith only a few clouds around the horizon and little to no wind.

Along the one mile of the road from the pavement to our location there were only 5 other observers.

I used local coordinates and a compass to rough align my Celestron CGEM II equatorial mount, and attached my Canon 6D with a Canon F2.8/200mm lens with a solar filter.

After booting up the Backyard EOS 3.1.14 I used the sun as a reference and fine-tuned the alignment.

My pre-total program was one sub every 180 seconds at 1/2000, F8 and ISO 400, and for totality is sequenced 1/2000, 1/1000, 1/250, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4 and 1 second, all at F8 and ISO 400.

I was lucky to get 8 of these sequences, and am now in the midst of processing the RAWs.

Here is a preliminary version of the last 1/4 shot, showing a beautiful diamond ring.





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I'll start (with a bummer):

I had everything set.  I'd been planning this for most of July and Aug, after making up my mind "YOLO".

I live in Tampa (co-owner of a Material Handling Equipment and Supplies Business), but have properties in Phoenix and Durango CO which were due for some attention - Maintenance and Chores.  Timed correctly, I could Fly into PHX, Drive to Durango the next Day, then drive North through CO to a Hotel along I-80 on the Southern Edge of Wyoming for the Sunday Night Stop.  This would allow me to assess the Weather Forecasts, and with an early-enough start on Monday be at most any point along the Line of Totality from Western WY all the way East into Western Nebraska (using I-80 to keep me out of some of the 2-lane gridlock predicted - especially if many of the "Eclipse Tourists" were forced to pick-up at last minute because of Cloud Cover).

Great Plan...  Laid Low when I caught a Cold (or something like it) on the Airplane.  Despite the best mix of what Cover-the-Counter Pharmacology could offer, I was a sweating / shivering / aching mess when I pulled in to my place outside Durango.  I could go no farther than the Couch or the Bed.  The next morning was worse.  I was NOT going to make it to the Eclipse Totality!!  Durango's 85% was all I was going to get... (If I could manage that...)

Central Wyoming - centered around Casper WY - was the Most-Valued-Destination because of 1) Great Percentage of Cloud-Free Days in late August; 2) High Altitude Plateau (5000-6000ft) with thinner / DRYER Air; and 3) a Road System oriented West-to-ESE that includes I-25 (although that meant the bulk of Denver and the Front-Range Cities would be coming too).

Durango CO is in the Southwest portion - where the Colorado Plateau meets the Real Rockies (the LaPlatas and SanJuans and the Continental Divide).  While enjoying Higher Altitudes (6500-8000ft), the area is an active part of the Southwest Monsoon.  And Eclipse Monday was forcast for Scattered Thunderstorms all day.  And the morning brought one near enough that my Patio was damp just before the Eclipse was to start.  (No Sun - Clouds too thick...)

If I'd been Healthy (and in WY) the plan was to have 2x DSLRs (80mm f/6 APO and 200mm f/2.8 near-APO Lens) mounted on my CGEM side-by-side (both with White-Light Filters - the f2/8 with a Near-IR Filter too).  The wide difference in Focal Lengths would give me the best opportunity to catch "something interesting" when Totality came and the Filters were removed.

In Durango, given the weather and my still-raging illness, all that I was up for was the simplest 80mm f/6 APO with White Light Filter on a fall-back photographic tripod (which I could readily snatch back under a roof if another T-Storm came through).  I could follow the progress of the Eclipse by eyeball (and Eclipse Glasses) whenever a thin spot in the flowing clouds allowed, but that was not enough to Focus the Imaging Rig until the Eclipse was well toward 50%.  A few pics later and thicker clouds closed in.  A thinning turned into a rift of Blue just about (or just after) maximum Eclipse, and I was able to get more Images.  Until clouds closed back in about 10 minutes after the Eclipse was over.

Once I'm back to the world of High Bandwidth, I'll post a photo or two.

Until then, here's hoping that others post their Eclipse Experiences (good, fair, or disappointing)...

For a report of what it was actually like in Central Wyoming, we'll need to await a posting from ASTROMAN133.

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