OctNovDec2017

Great American Eclipse, continued:

Weizer, Idaho

By Leo Taylor

Like many I had no idea I should make reservations so far ahead. I knew Madras Oregon was the best spot in the U.S. In September I used Orbitz to start looking – 11 months ahead.  I reached the border of Oregon, a very wide state, without a single vacancy. I skipped over the state line to Idaho. The capitol Boise it was sold out. I finally found rooms available at a Motel 6 in Meridian Idaho, a suburb of Boise. I pounced on one.

With my hotel secure I reserved airline and rental car then sat back for months. I waited far too long to look for a spot of land to stand/sit upon during the event. I wrote to the Boise Astronomical Society asking for some suggestions and received an email saying most of the towns in the eclipse path would be crowded but suggesting Weiser or Midvale.

I’m glad I left the hotel early the morning of eclipse day! When I arrived at the high school in Weiser before dawn there were lots of people, but less than half the spaces were filled. When I pulled into the driveway I was asked if I had a reservation. It seems the parking was sold out two months ahead. But, the lady pointed out street parking alongside the field which was fine with me!

I hung around, drank iced tea, and finally sat in my new chair. I exchanged some small talk with a couple nearby on the grass. We ended up talking for about 90 minutes. I set up my little tripod.

I had practiced with the tripod a week earlier. I can’t bend far enough to look through the finder
thus used a “Compact Makeup Mirror” to re-center the Sun every 8 minutes. I also could not focus well. I knew I’d have problems, but did not want photography to dominate the day. I spent most of the time looking up with my $2 McDonald’s glasses. Note the cloudless blue sky with high transparency looking up.

I did capture the corona/halo with the three spikes so many reported. I saw some of the well talked about effects: In the 15 minutes before totality the land darkens, a strange effect since shadows are visible. When the Sun was a thin crescent it got suddenly dark and the audience went from quiet to cheering. I could see the corona with proper glasses, I had thought it required a camera. We all noticed it got cooler.

I did not see: Shadow coming down the mountains. Crescent shadows on the ground due to grass field.

Wilson, Wyoming

By Dave Noble

We flew into Phoenix, AZ and began our two week adventure by exploring the Sedona/Flagstaff area, Meteor Crater, and the Lowell Observatory. The newly restored 24 inch Clark Refractor was on display but the sky was overcast and drizzly.

We next drove along Route 66 from the Grand Canyon towards Las Vegas entertained by the occasional Burmashave signs. As we neared the zone of totality, signs appeared cautioning heavy traffic and selling last minute provisions.

Our viewing location in Wilson, WY (near Jackson Hole) at the foot of the Grand Tetons. Our star party of 12 observers utilized 6 cameras, a pair of binoculars, an 8-inch Orion Dobsonian, and a plate of welding glass mounted on tripod.

The light in the area began to dim at roughly 75% coverage and the air temperature became noticeably cooler but the scenery didn’t darken completely until totality.  Removing eclipse glasses to see the Diamond Ring, the sight was amazingly brilliant against the black sky.

The corona blasted outward from what appeared to be a circular black void. Venus was a beacon to the west with dimmer Mars and Mercury just visible beyond the extended corona.

It was the shortest two minutes I’ve ever experienced and the event was over far too soon. But we immediately began making plans for future solar eclipse events!

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