2017 Total Solar Eclipse in Nebraska

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2017 Total Solar Eclipse in Nebraska 2017-09-23T22:27:26+00:00

RESULTS OF THE 2017 TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE EXPEDITION TO NEBRASKA

August 19-22, 2017

 

The first indication of the pending eclipse as we drove I-80 from Lincoln NE to Grand Island.  Lynn Palmer photo.

 

 

A composite set of images from David Agard/Lisa McConlogue taken with a Nikon D7500 with a 500mm lens; f5.6 1/320sec for partials and f5.6 1/3200sec for total eclipse image.

A promotional ad from a local resident seeking to attract eclipse visitors. They could have done a better job of proof reading.

Another Ring of Fire Expeditions success story. The total solar eclipse featuring three areas of prominences and the inner corona as photographed by David Agard; taken with Nikon D7500 with a 500mm lens,  ISO 400, f5.6 and 1/3200 sec.

The southwest horizon from Berwyn NE.  The sunset colors were fantastic. It always helps to have an unobstructed horizon. Paul Maley photo

But first, a welcome sign from Grand Island, Nebraska. Steve Zarate photo.

The 47th Ring of Fire Expeditions adventure to observe a total eclipse of the Sun occurred from August 19-22. We had a total of 185 participants divided into three groups led by myself (Paul Maley), Ted Blank, and David Haviland.  Pre-eclipse activities included visits to the Grand Theater, Raising Nebraska and Stuhr Museum. Categorically this was one of the scarier eclipses due to the negative weather forecasts. However, I can say with all candor that all of our group, regardless of where they were located, saw the eclipse!!

Part of our eclipse team inside the beautifully restored Grand Theater. Ted Blank photo.

Signs appeared in Grand Island welcoming people since the eclipse was a major event in the city’s yearly attraction schedule.

A sign of a good experience ahead. Colin Strong photo.

Along Interstate 80 there were signs warning of the upcoming eclipse. Julia Cumming photo.

The expected massive crush of visitors never materialized in downtown Grand Island.  Where is everybody? Carl Lyday photo.

One of the best features of our trip was visiting Raising Nebraska. Ted Blank photo.

The Stuhr Museum was also on our visit list and it provided fascinating insight into the history of Nebraska. Connie Haviland photo.

The forecast for eclipse day was truly awful with 12 weather models/tools being consulted to see how well they agreed. Only 2 suggested it might be clear in Grand Island. The rest were unanimous in predicting overcast high cloud throughout the state.  On August 20 I recommended that some people consider to drive to Wyoming (4 did) and others to drive as far west as Alliance, NE.  A few also drove to Arthur and Stapleton, NE.  A representative last minute prediction by Skippysky.com.au is shown below.

A Skippysky.com.au screen shot showing overcast for most of Nebraska at 7am on August 21. Totality was to occur 6 hours later.

The forecasts were so bad we thought this photo would be the only one of totality that we might get. Flat screens in the restaurant in multiple places showed the same image.  Taken in the Chocolate Bar restaurant, Grand Island NE. Different colored badges were used to delineate who was on each bus.  Pictured here (left to right) are: Polly Aird, Ted Blank, Karen Ilika, Jim Ilika and  Beia Lynch.

In honor of the eclipse, Sara Owens Maritato paintd her nails to show the partial eclipse (right) and total eclipse (left). Sara Owens Maritato photo.

Briefings were provided instructing all participants about proper eclipse viewing safety protocol and plans for deployment and observation.

 

One of two eclipse presentations delivered by Paul D. Maley. Linda Braswell photo.

Numerous sites were preplanned and yet the forecast and observations were so inconsistent that I decided to take one bus and head west to assess if it was worthwhile for other buses to follow.  About 80 miles from Grand Island on highway 2 we encountered a solid wall of thick fog–totally unexpected.

Fog photographed by Lynn Palmer facing west from Broken Bow, NE. This was a stop point to evaluate the weather.

At this point I elected to reverse course and head back toward Grand Island but stopping at the transition point between fog and no fog. That location was near Berwyn, NE.  As it turned out conditions began to improve in Grand Island unexpectedly and the other two groups decided to remain there. I elected to set up our Berwyn team near the railroad tracks so we could get a full 360 degree view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corn is a main staple in Nebraska and we saw hundreds of thousands of acres of it as we moved along the roadways.  Lynn Palmer photo (left).  Samantha Jarman could easily be lost in the corn. Anne Herrington photo (right).

As bus A drove westward we saw the eclipse advertising from Ravenna on highway 2.  Very few eclipse watchers were seen on our 80 mile drive. Paul Maley photo.

Our air conditioned buses, each with a bathroom were new and comfortable. Arrow Stage Lines provided excellent service and great drivers.  Bus B interior. Ted Blank photo.

IMAGES FROM THE OBSERVING SITES

About 20 minutes before totality began I spotted Venus just west of the Sun. the faint clouds to its left are “eclipse clouds” that form high in the atmosphere due to the cooling effect. Paul Maley photo.

There were initially no clouds in front of or near the Sun as the group began its setup.

Greg and Jo Webb from Katy, TX set up on flat ground with no clouds in the background at Berwyn. 

In another part of Nebraska, Yann Klein’s balloon is being launched by a team from the University of Houston. Yann could not make the trip from Japan to the US. The launch was successful and the payload recovered about 50 miles away from the launch site. It sustained damage and we are waiting to see if eclipse video was obtained from altitude.

 

Crescent sun images projected by a nearby tree at the Berwyn site.  Sheila Stephenson photo.

The Braswell family all set up for the eclipse. Left to right Byron Braswell, Sharon Braswell, Deanna Braswell, Mike Wilson, Carol Wilson, Linda Braswell and Lynn Braswell photo.

Gene Stansbery at the bus A site in a field all his own. Lesson of convenience: using a folding camping chair and having the tripod legs extended will allow the photographer to put his/her eyes conveniently under the lens. Placing a dark cloth before totality over your head permits getting the focus preset without messing up your vision going into totality. Lynn Palmer photo.

To help insure their eclipse success, Eileen Stansbery rode to the bus B site were she was 100% successful also. Lesson of convenience: using a right angle finder and focuser when the Sun is at high elevation makes the photographic process easier.  Wearing a floppy hat provides some measure of shading.  Ted Blank photo.

At site B, Ted Blank photographed a non-tour member who found it comfortable to sit on top of a hot car during the eclipse. People can get creative.

The bus B site had an enormous amount of room. Ted Blank photo.

In this photo ___ and ___ observe the partial phase.  Ted Blank photo.

Larry Schwab sets up his scope at Stapleton, NE, another one of our remote sites. Note the Questar telescope on the right side and many other eclipse goers in the background.  Nora Schwab photo.

David Haviland showing his refractor at the bus C site. This site was the only one with a gazebo and porta-potties.  Colin Strong photo.

We had been informed that the frequent trains that traveled across the state would temporarily stop running during the eclipse but that was definitely not the case. In fact, at Berwyn, we had a train pass by our site about 2 minutes before totality began.

Train approaching our Group A site.  Paul Maley photo.

Lisa Mc Conlogue describes the train passage: “There is a memorable moment for the group A folks who were near the train tracks. A train came by just before totality. It was shaking the ground so much that my stabilization-enabled binoculars were bouncing all over the place. Everyone with cameras were groaning as we watched the moon approach on the sliver of the sun as we had no idea how long the train was. Just before the sun disappeared the train passed and the ground stopped shaking. A cry of relief went up as the cameras settled down. That was a close call to losing the totality for any photos.”

Sara Owen Maritato recorded information (above) on the people we encountered at the Group A site.

A partial halo around the Sun was seen just before totality during the partial phase of the eclipse. Renae Schmidt photo.

PHOTO COVERAGE

There were many photos submitted.  I did not insert those that were slightly or vastly out of focus or had obvious defects.  Here is a sampling of the best ones sent to me from team members.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Hydrogen Alpha telescope images showing great detail including granulation, faculae, and prominences.  Paul Campbell photos with a Lunt LS60THA Double Stacked scope on a Celestron NexStar mount in alt-az mode. The camera he uses is a DMK 41AU with 1/2″ chip. It provides video in black and white format. The video is saved to a laptop via the software that came with the DMK camera.

He took 10 second videos because he was concerned about the Moon’s movement against the Sun. The videos were stacked in RegiStax and then processed in false color in Photoshop.

For the composite image of C2 and C3, he turned on the video camera 3 minutes before the eclipse and watched the eclipse visually. 3 minutes after the eclipse, the video was turned off. The video was edited so that a frame capture was done for C2 and C3. He then processed it in Photoshop and rotated the image to get the final result.

The partial phase lasted about 1.5 hours before totality and the same amount after.  It was very easy to track the progress of the Moon’s motion across the Sun even using the one power standard “eclipse glasses” that were issued to everyone.  The H-Alpha images above show whiteish solar faculae–bright spots that form in the canyons between solar granules, short-lived convection cells several thousand kilometers across that constantly form and dissipate over timescales of several minutes. Faculae are produced by concentrations of magnetic field lines.

Byron Braswell took this photo as first contact occurred. Note the sunspots along the solar equator. Photo taken with Nikon D7100 APS format camera with Nikon 500mm f4 lens with 1.4x tele-extender  (1035mm equivalent 35mm camera focal length), ISO 100, f/8, 1/8000 sec

A composite set of images of the partial phases by David Agard/Lisa McConlogue taken with a Nikon D7500 with a 500mm lens; f5.6 at 1/320 sec.

The same images of first contact processed in black and white brings out a much better definition of sunspots. David Agard/Lisa McConlogue photos.

At second contact Ivan Schwab took this image using a Nikon D800 body attached to a Questar at f/16, ISO 800, 1/250 sec.  Note the pink chromosphere and Baily’s Beads forming (lower left).

The Berwyn site was enshrouded in the Moon’s shadow. It was not well defined, just a large darkened cloak that moved from west to east. You can get an idea what clouds can do to make the eclipse beautiful as long as they are not in front of the Sun. Lisa McConlogue photo.

Compare the previous photo with this one taken at the B group site on South 60th St. in Grand Island. Mary Courtney photo.

Polly Aird took this photo showing the horizon coloration from the C group site about a mile from the B group’s Grand Island location.

In Beryl Feller’s image you can almost make out the blue lunar shadow’s edge from the C group site.

From the group B site Anne Herrington captured everyone looking west as the Moon’s shadow started to move over. You can see the dark blue shadow and perhaps the curved border of the shadow just above the lowest clouds.

Who says an IPhone can’t capture totality? Polly Aird’s image shows the eastward pointing coronal spike and the two westward spikes.

 

Bailys’ Beads beginning to fade after 2nd contact. Jan Hellemans photo with a Canon EOS 7D Mark II and a Canon 300mm F/4 lens giving an EFL of 480mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/1000 sec.

 

 

This image captures the 1st magnitude star Regulus (Alpha Leonis) to the lower left and the eclipsed Sun with helmet streamers. Jan Hellemans photowith a Canon EOS 7D Mark II and a Canon 300mm F/4 lens giving an EFL of 480mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/10 sec.

Paul Maley photographing during totality. Note the hay bales in the background. Lesson of convenience: the tripod is raised to an acceptable height, a towel is placed under the knees and manual photos can be taken in a straight-forward manner.  My photos were taken with an alt-az mount, no finder, no tracking device (to save on weight), focusing using Live View and aligning the Sun so it would be on the west side of the field, allowing the Earth’s rotation to move the Sun toward the center without having to make any adjustments. Lynn Palmer photo.

At the bus C site, David Haviland photographed lights that came on during totality. See two lights in the far left portion of the screen.

Compare the above photo with the ones preceding it.  Coronal spikes, helmet streamers and other coronal rays are all visible. Ted Blank photo taken with a Canon T3i, 85-250mm zoom lens, f/5.6, 1/400 sec at ISO 3200. Hand-held.

And then this photo taken by Greg Shanos.  The photo is a capture still from a video.   The video is a SONY FDR-AX 100 4K camcorder  It is 3840 x 2160 pixels at 96 dpi and 24 bit depth.   The camcorder had a 30 power optical zoom (I do not know the focal length).   The f stop was f5.6 and exposure 1/125 sec. The photo has been adjusted to show the same spike orientation as the preceding images.

An HD composite photo by Chris Faser. Taken with a Canon 7D Mark II using a 400mm lens.  The pictures were taken in RAW.  No filters were used. The composite images were made using 9 photos at exposures from 1/2000-1/25 sec, F 5.6, ISO 400. By doing image processing and stacking you can bring out many more features that ordinarily would be hidden in single photos.

Just before 3rd contact this photo shot from the group B site by Chris Faser reveals a solar limb with prominences. Taken with Canon 7D Mark II with a 400 mm lens, 1/2000  sec, F/18, ISO 200.

Third contact signaled the end of the total phase.  Note the pink chromosphere, and small stand-alone Baily’s Bead and beginning of Diamond Ring formation.  This photo was shot by Eileen Stansbery from  the group B site with a NIKON D300,  focal length: 400mm, f/29, 1/3200 sec, ISO 1250.    

Comparing the above photo by Byron Braswell with the previous one, you can see a lot more structure in the pinkish prominences and the formation of a Baily’s Bead to the left of the evolutionary Diamond Ring.  Taken with Nikon D7100 APS format camera with Nikon 500mm f4 lens with 1.4x tele-extender  (1035mm equivalent 35mm camera focal length), ISO 100, f/8.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A composite set of images from David Agard/Lisa McConlogue taken with a Nikon D7500 with a 500mm lens; exposures going from f5.6 1/800 sec to f9 1/4000 sec

A sequence of images taken by Chris Faser with a Canon 7D Mark II, 400mm lens.  The partial phase is taken using a Baader Solar Eclipse film, taken at 1/500 sec, F 18, ISO 200.  Central image is a composite made from a short stack 1/2000-1/160 sec, F 5.6, ISO 400.

The 3rd contact Diamond Ring as seen by Steve Zarate taken with a Canon 7D Mark II and 400mm DO II lens. Internal reflections caused the various colors. Settings:  1/40 sec at f/9.0, ISO 800.

 

A second contact image from Bill Chapin. This is a snap from a 4K HD video made from the parking lot of the Hotel Grand in Grand Island. It was taken with a Nikon B700 point-and-shoot camera, typically at full optical  zoom of 60X.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High resolution comparison images of the best prominence located in the 2 o’clock position. JD Droddy’s independent expedition image from Wyoming (not with our group this time) is on the left (taken with a Celestron Edge HD 8, Televue Powermate 4x, Canon 5d Mark II) , while David Agard’s image is on the right taken with a Nikon D7500 with a 500mm lens .

Paul Maley and Lynn Palmer at the bus A location.  

Looking east just as 3rd contact is over, you can see observers spread out. Two just right of center and a group far right center in background. We had a very large field and participants were on both sides of the highway at the bus A site.  Paul Maley photo.

 

A view of the same sky 10 minutes before totality, during totality and in full daylight. Photo by Beia Lynch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two photos taken of the same scene one minute apart at our Berwyn site. Lisa McConlogue photos.

So-called “finger bumps” appear when the partial eclipse is in effect created by sunlight passing around finger tips. Beia Lynch photo.

Interlacing fingers produced these really clear crescent Suns.  Beia Lynch photo.

The media projected huge crowds would be rushing into the eclipse path from every angle.  But, the continuous negative forecasts for Nebraska likely prevented the masses from driving in. Besides the Grand Island airport only had one flight per day on the weekend arriving! There were no gas shortages, no trail of cars, no accidents (that we saw or heard about).  Overall it was smooth sailing.

What did people see or hear during the eclipse? From the bus A site during partial phases we did hear insects (cicadas) becoming active. During totality a night hawk flew up just east of us.  There was a report that one person saw shadow bands prior to totality. Mercury, Mars, and Venus were also seen. People likely spent more time looking at the corona and then the surrounding sunset colors (yellows and oranges) from clouds all around the horizon.

Temperature plot by Greg Shanos at the bus A site shows a 7 F drop as a result of the eclipse process.  Note that the minimum temperature (as I explained at the briefing) is delayed past the time of totality before it starts to recover.

After the eclipse there was always ‘blackout bargains’ and if you brought your eclipse glasses you would get 25% off.  Leslie Strike photo.

SATELLITE VIEW OF THE ECLIPSE CROSSING THE USA

Linda Doge found this satellite loop online showing the progress of the eclipse.

The Moon’s shadow first appears over Oregon. Note the time marker in the upper left corner. This is an infrared view from the University of Wisconsin-Madison/Space Science and Engineering Center as are the following images.

The shadow is now over Nebraska

And finally the shadow approaches the Carolinas before exiting into the Atlantic Ocean

“It can’t possibly be over” David Agard shooting after 3rd contact as the partial phases appear.  The bus roof permitted viewing as well as photography. Sara Owens Maritato photo.

SCIENCE AFTER THE ECLIPSE

To add to the excitement, we participated in the discovery of a new double star is shown in the image above.  On the way back to Phoenix from the eclipse Lynn and I stopped in Hiawatha, Kansas on August 23 to record the eclipse of a 9.1 magnitude star by the asteroid Burnhamia.  As a result we accidentally recorded a signature of a new double star as shown by the step-wise drop of the star’s light and the reverse step-wise recovery of its light after the eclipse.

ECLIPSE SCIENCE TEAM AT MINDEN NEBRASKA

Far from the center of the eclipse path a group coordinated by Lisa Clapper of Minden High School set up 15 stations with 1 adult/teacher and 2 students at each site,  perpendicular and crossing the theoretical southern edge of the eclipse path.

This experiment was described at  http://eclipsetours.com/eclipse-edge-2017/  

The goal was to try to quantify the demarkation of where true totality occurred and where it almost occurred.  The result was a series of IPAD videos that were collected, one from each station over a four minute interval centered on the expected time of central eclipse.  All stations activated the recording at 11:57am local time and recorded continually for the next four minutes.  After the eclipse a questionnaire was completed by each team to try to identify more accurately what they saw. The reason for this was the presence of variable cloud at every site making it very difficult to determine (from the video recordings) precisely whether totality was recorded or not.  Some stations seemed to have noticed what could have been a large Baily’s Bead in the 4 o’clock position even at the northern end of the line. What is apparent is that the IPAD recordings seem to show the corona was seen at all stations.

Eclipse project 2017

ECLIPSE SITES FOR GROUPS A, B, AND C PREDICTED TOTALITY TIMES

The following maps show the locations and coordinates of each of our three main groups. NOTE: it took more than 2 minutes for the shadow to cover bus A (farthwest west site) and then to reach bus C. The sites below are shown geographically from west to east. Shadow speed was 1,558 mph or 26 miles/minute. Therefore, the linear distance from bus A to bus C was 57 miles/92km.

Bus A, Berwyn NE

Totality start: 12:56:12.3    end: 12:58:40.0

Bus C, Grand Island NE

Totality start: 12:58:13.9    end: 1:00:49.3

Bus B, Grand Island NE

Totality start: 12:58:22.1    end: 1:00:57.6

GROUP PHOTOS

Only two groups took photos: bus A and bus B.

 

Group A from left to right: Paul Loy (property owner), Greg Webb, Jo Webb (sitting), Becky Loy, Steve Zarate,  Paul Maley (front), Paul Facuna (rear), Lynn Palmer (sitting), Torsten Rothenwaldt, Sharon Braswell, Jan Hellemans (rear),  Sheila Stephenson (in white), Grant Searle, Corey Hull (front), Bill Becker, Paul Maritato, our bus driver (rear), Gene Stansbery (sitting), Sara Owens Maritato, Linda Braswell, Lynn Braswell (rear), Leslie Strike, Peter Arkley (rear), Marlene Anrijs (sitting), Denise Wynn, (brown hat),  Deanna Braswell (holding flag), Byron Braswell (back), Craig Howard (colored shirt), Terry Howard (behind flag), Gerry Branda (behind star), Carl Lyday (back), Susan Lyday (dark cap), Robin Elliott (behind flag), Mike Wilson (back), Carol Wilson (in shadow), Elaine Williams (hidden), Lisa McConlogue (holding flag), David Agard (2nd from right), Chuck Branda (far right).   The Loys owned the property near where our bus parked (south side of the railroad tracks). They knew the owner of the other property across the railroad tracks and got his permission for us to set up and observe there. True Nebraska hospitality.

Group B From left to right: Brian Ribnik, Clem Scalise, Toni Scalise (blue blouse), bus driver Daryl, Judith Mitzner, Karl Szadok (gray shirt), Karen Ilika (way back), Donna Szadok (front), Bob Appel (sunglasses), Robin Appel (front), Jim Ilika, Jay Levy (dark cap), Eileen Stansbery (beige hat), Susan Upton (front), A.J.Friedline, Tom Morris (sunglasses), Chris Friedline, Ray Meleton (white hat), Mary Courtney (front), Tom Courtney (next to pole), Susan Collins (white hat), Margaret Scherbina (front), ___sunglasses, Eileen Debesis (front holding hat), Jim Debesis (dark cap), Anne Herrington (front), David Pottinger (dark cap), Paula Pottinger (white blouse), Mary Ellen Bryan,Norman McLean (sunglasses), Susan McLean, Elizabeth Hannah (blue blouse), Marty Eisen (white cap), Jackie Eisen, Chris Faser, Ted Blank, Daniel Levy.

CANDID IMPRESSIONS

This was the first total eclipse to cross the USA in 38 years. Therefore most of our participants had a unique first time experience. The following are direct comments about that event.

Colin Strong:

When I was a young, primary school boy I was very keen on Astronomy.  Even at that very early age I knew that I wanted to be in Cornwall on August 11th 1999 to witness the only total solar eclipse that would be visible from the United Kingdom in my lifetime.  Sure enough, I went to Cornwall that day, but all I saw was the heavy clouds getting dark, and the heavy clouds getting light again.  It was eerie, but not what I had hoped for.

It has taken 60 years for that boyhood desire to be fulfilled.  Today, near Grand Island, Nebraska in the US, I witnessed a total solar eclipse. The forecast had been for heavy cloud, high probability of rain, and thunderstorms or worse.  However, the weather turned out bright and with largely clear skies, giving us a perfect view of the eclipse from 1st contact all the way through to the end.

It was stunning.  I have seen plenty of photographs and knew what to expect, but the reality was mind blowing. The eery low light, not quite like dusk, in the minute or so before totality, and then the amazing sight of a glowing black sphere in the sky – so much more intense than any photograph seems to be able to reproduce.  It took my breath away, and was quite emotional.  In the darkness stars were visible (Venus was particularly bright), but all around the horizon, in all directions (and the flat land of Nebraska gave us 360 degree views) the colours of sunset glowed brightly.

It was worth every minute of that 60 year wait.

Lee Thomas:

Please relay to Paul that we went where he told us would be far enough to see it, and he was right. For me it was the most beautiful setting I have ever been fortunate to see an eclipse from. Elizabeth was thrilled.  We went to Alliance, NE, sat at the top of a sand dune, with nobody and nothing else visible except sand dunes covered with daisies in bloom. It was so good I may give up eclipse chasing; I will never top yesterday.

Tell Paul I struck out on my own because he was responsible for 184 people, but other than myself I was responsible only for one. A sports car is a lot easier to drive than a truck. I figured I could make late corrections more easily on my own. In the event it was a classic eclipse stalk. We drove through conditions of nothing but alto cirrus — “hey, this is a piece of cake!” — literally into a fog –“No way José”. Never quit, and we were rewarded in a spectacular way. An idyllic place to watch a perfect eclipse.

Nora Schwab:

We drove 136 miles west to a spot about 4 miles south of Stapleton.  A person who owned a big brick house at the top of a hill which was surrounded by hilly, treeless pastureland opened up the pasture for $20 per car for eclipse watchers to drive onto the pasture and set up wherever they wanted to.  My brother-in-law, Larry, stopped counting at 100 cars that were there!  Everyone had plenty of room and the mood was very gregarious.  The homeowners even rented several port-a-potties for their “guests” to use.  They also had t-shirts to sell as well as sodas and snack-type food.  They were excellent hosts!

Mary Courtney:

As an anecdote, my brother was in Madras, Oregon to see the eclipse. He’s an accomplished, published amateur photographer. He thoroughly researched how to best photograph the eclipse. Put a lot of time into it. He left Bend OR at 4:30 am to arrive at site in time to set up and get prime spot. He was ready!  But he didn’t get any pictures! He said he was in such awe and it “was so fast” that he “didn’t have time” to take any pics!

From my point of view, that’s a perfect first time experience, and he has no regrets. Thanks for a great trip! We had a great time, loved the presentations and meeting everyone!

Terry Cooper:

We arrived at Torrington WY (2 minutes totality)…  We left a little after 3am and did not encounter any traffic at all.  However, both I-80 and route 26 were very foggy and a little tough to drive.  We made the 350 mile drive in about 6.5 hours (including stops) and our room at the Holiday Inn was available when we arrived around 8:30am.  Fog didn’t lift until about 8am, but I wasn’t really worried about that.  Skies were totally clear.  There was a great situation in the hotel’s parking lot and grassy area (no lights on the east side) and lots of folks were setting up.  I used the same 500mm spotting scope and Nikon D-50 on a standard tripod that I’ve had for over 10 years.  Wish I had an equatorial mount, as tracking is a real pain.  Either (1) I can’t focus, or (2) there’s a difference between the viewfinder and sensor (no live-view on this camera), or (3) camera shutter release shake (no mirror lock), or (4) my scope can’t focus well due to internal damage, but my best photos are still a bit blurry.

Elizabeth Hannah:

What an amazing experience to see a total eclipse!  Not only is the eclipse itself stunning, the entire environment changes and becomes other-worldly.  First, the light became dimmer and dimmer.  I could see the darkness approaching and it looked like a really dark rain cloud coming from the West.  The light around was odd and then when the totality happened, it got dark, I could see a 360 degree pink “dawn” around the horizon and I could see Venus.  As totality finished and the crescent of the sun began to reappear, the black darkness receded in the opposite direction. 

I’d seen pictures of the moon’s gradual advance over the sun.  It’s really hard to explain how it is to see the sun change in front of you.  The most spectacular moments of course were when the moon covered the sun completely and I could take my protective glasses off.  There are really no words! 

Afterwards, for at least a day or more, all things normal seem strange to me as if I’m a visitor in a foreign country.  We live on such an awesome planet!  I feel like I’m so used to living day to day that I haven’t really seen the world we live in.

Julia Cumming:

It was a wonderful trip of a lifetime!  I loved Nebraska and the really neat people that we met. We tried the colander idea and were delighted to see the mini-eclipses. It is hard to convey the feeling you get when the day gets darker but the sun is still shining above you.  When the street lights turned on, you know you are not imagining it.  The clouds turned pink as if was a sunset.

There were many signs along the highway warning travelers to expect heavy traffic on August 21, which we thought was a negative view.  We felt, “Solar Eclipse August 21 Plan Ahead” was a positive message and the perfect theme for our vacation.  Thanks so much for all of your hard work.  Ted and David were wonderful, too.  I hope to join you on another trip soon!

 

Sara Owens Maritato:

What we lament most is that there is not yet a photo published that accurately reflects what we were able to see through binoculars at the site. Nothing captures the full corona in detail – and I really, really, really want to study it longer than seconds. You were right about how frustratingly short that two minutes was. It seemed SO LONG the night before in that conference room.

Paul Maritato

Martin Knoblauch: who devised the following sonnet after seeing the eclipse.

The Majesty of Day and his Night Queen

Plow through their vast sidereal fields of blue

A fleeting meeting high above my head.

The conjunction of the King and Consort nears

I stand in earthen fields and think that once

This very sight to others fear once led.

In ancient days was this same mating seen

By one who stopped while plowing other fields

And looking up caused him to stare in dread.

 

Between us nothing more than knowledge stands

I benefit from science, he from none

Yet at this same event both look in awe

And as the Royal Couple now depart

For different reasons each a prayer is said.

Mary Jane Gately:

I was awed by the changing light in the surroundings as totality approached.   It became an otherworldly landscape.

The entire trip was wonderful and very well-planned.   And the main event certainly lived up to my expectations!

Many thanks for an unforgettable experience.