New here / My eclipse story and images

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DamienCannane
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New here / My eclipse story and images

Post by DamienCannane » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:46 am

Hi everybody,

This is my first time on this forum, so I thought I'd introduce myself.

After much coveting, I finally took the plunge yesterday. I bought my first H-alpha telescope: a Coronado SolarMax ii 60!! I couldn't be more excited for it to arrive. So I'm here to learn as much as I can about this niche area of astronomy. I've never so much as even looked through an H-alpha telescope...this will all be new for me.

The only significant solar imaging I've done to this point was on August 21, 2017. All of my eclipse photos came out pretty much like I hoped they would. I'll share my eclipse story and then my images. :)

I first read about the eclipse more than 20 years ago as a space-crazed child in the reading room of the Massillon (Ohio) Public Library. It was something I tucked away into a corner in the back of my mind. Someday, I was going to do whatever it took to witness this great spectacle.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I still live in northeast Ohio, which would only receive about 85% lunar coverage. So, early this Spring, I set about trying to convince my wife that taking a road trip to America's heartland was a reasonable use of resources and vacation time. We're normally beach vacationers, so this wasn't an easy sell! But I was able to wear her down over time, and we were in agreement by July that this was something we would do. We would travel the American highways in pursuit of the moon's shadow!

Following the advice of Mr. Eclipse, Fred Espenak, I decided the best approach was to commit to a fully mobile strategy. I didn't book any hotels...I simply poured over historical weather data to select 4 locations, and we would head out west with the hope that fate (and hotel vacancy signs) would be in our future. My poor wife is more of a planner, and a bit of a nervous traveler anyway, so she was really out of her comfort zone with this trip! flowerred.gif

Our sites were (in order of preference): 1. Loess Bluffs National Recreation Area northwest of Kansas City, 2. Meramec State Park near Sullivan, Missouri, 3. Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge near North Platte, Nebraska, and 4. "somewhere in Tennessee, probably the Nashville area". I wasn't too concerned about this last option: Based on my weather research, I really thought that was the least likely place we'd end up.

I picked my wife up at work at the end of her shift on Thursday, August 17th around 10:00 PM, with our luggage and astronomy gear packed, along with our 5-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter nearly asleep in the back seat. Our plan was to at least make it to the Indiana border before getting a hotel room. Unfortunately all the hotel rooms along I-70 in Indiana were booked...I suspect it was due to parents taking their kids back to college. We finally found a room around 4:00 AM near Indianapolis. At least I was able to charm the girl at the front desk, and negotiate the price down.

About 5 hours later, we set off for Terre Haute, Indiana where we took the kids to an excellent children's museum. Later that afternoon, we visited Casey, Illinois where they have "the world's largest stuff", including the largest rocking horse, mailbox, and wind chimes, among many other such objects. The kids enjoyed it, and it was definitely a neat place to check out. The people were very friendly, and happy to tell us their story.

The real non-astronomy highlight of this trip, for me at least, was taking in the baseball game in Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday night. By an amazing coincidence, my beloved Cleveland Indians happened to be in town, and I had always wanted to visit the Royal's home ballpark. For those who don't know, this Kaufman Stadium is uniquel in that it features a series of impressive water fountains lining the outfield. And our #1 preferred eclipse location was only an hour away!...Unfortunately, it was becoming clear by Friday night that Kansas City was likely going to be experiencing thunderstorms during totality. No bueno! So while we were still heading west toward Kansas City for Saturday's ballgame, we booked a cheap motel near our #2 site in eastern Missouri. My wife insisted that we book somewhere. She was sure that every hotel in America would be gone and we'd have to sleep in our car! lol.gif . She really would have been much happier picking one location and just hoping for the best.

The game was excellent on Saturday, and our Indians won 6-0, but by that evening, the forecast had also deteriorated for eastern Missouri. This was also about the time that my wife rebelled and said we weren't going to western Nebraska (our #3 site). It was too far from home, she said, since my son was supposed to meet his 1st grade teacher a day after the eclipse. So, against all expectations, we were going to head toward Nashville. But where? I had no idea.

Back in the hotel room after the game, my wife and I searched and searched all throughout Tennessee near the path of totality. After more than an hour of searching, I booked a room in a cheap hotel in Holladay, Tennessee, about an hour and a half south of totality. We would be going to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, which is a large tract of Federal land spanning the Kentucky-Tennessee border. I used NASA's interactive eclipse map to select a site on the park's eastern edge along the Cumberland River on the Kentucky side. We were only about 20 miles from the point of greatest eclipse in Hopkinsville, KY.

I was so anxious about the traffic nightmares they were predicting. I woke up my family at 5:00 AM Monday morning, a full hour earlier than I had told them - they weren't pleased! But several grumpy looks and sighs later, we were on the road around 5:45. When we passed through a small town 20 minutes later, we stopped to fill up the gas tank and then our stomachs at McDonald's. We encountered no delays on the way north toward the path of totality, and reached our chosen site with ZERO competition. We were the only ones there at 7:45, but at least we had our pick of spots! We chose a nice area near the eastern tree line, which kept us in the shade all morning. I had plenty of time to set up my gear, and the 3 tablets we brought kept the kids occupied the 5 hours until totality. The shade was really a big plus, because the heat index climbed north of 105 degrees!! All morning long, the skies were a crystal clear blue with only the occasional high wispy cloud. One huge unexpected benefit of coming back east was that my sister was able to meet up with us. She was planning on heading to Tennessee, but changed course to take it in with us.

The kids might have been in the shade, but I wasn't. And I was sweating like crazy. Between the high temps, and my sweat falling on the trackpad, my laptop became erratic and then simply locked up altogether. At my wife's suggestion, I turned on the car and let the computer cool down. It meant that I would lose much of the early partial shots I had planned to take, but it ended up saving the day for my totality plans.

As we got about 45 minutes out from the 1:24 PM 2nd contact, I noticed several large fluffy clouds along the horizon on all sides of us. I was scared that convection was going to win the day and cloud us out! But I was trying not to feel any more anxious than I already was, so I just did my best to ignore them.

About 20 minutes before totality, we noticed a significant reduction in temperature. I didn't bring a thermometer, so I can't say how much, but it was actually comfortable by that point. No more drowning my electronic devices. lol.gif

10 minutes prior to totality, we noticed the colors starting to change and a definite dimming of the light.

5 minutes before totality, those clouds were still clustered around the horizon...this was going to happen for us!! By this point, the lighting had gotten really strange. The colors seemed all wrong to my eyes. It was as though we had been transported into my grandparents' old photo albums, where there was far too much red saturation. And features on everything had become artificially sharp due to the point-source nature of our ever-shrinking Sun.

Totality came swiftly. I'm not sure if you're supposed to watch the Diamond Ring with your naked eyes, but I couldn't help myself. It was the most spectacular thing I'd every seen in my life. That is, until second contact. Totality came swiftly. It's crazy how quickly everything dims in those last few seconds during the transition from the Diamond Ring to totality.

And then it happened. The solar corona spread across the sky, perhaps as much as 4 or 5 solar diameters out from the moon's disk. In that moment, I realized I had never seen the sun properly. It's like when you've known a person for years, and then they go and do something that you never imagined they were capable of. I was peaking behind the curtains of time and space. I was seeing something that I wasn't meant to witness. There were incredible prominences visible at 3 and 5 'o clock throughout totality. I had no idea they would be so easily visible with the unaided eye, or that we'd be able to see them the entire time.

I had pre-programmed Backyard EOS to run bracketed exposures throughout, but I didn't try for the Baily's Beads or the Diamond Ring. I just wanted to watch this first totality as much as I could. I watched the diamond ring fully, along with the first few seconds of totality, before bending down and clicking "capture'. At that point, I walked away from my laptop, and watched everything else with my eyes. I didn't want to miss anything, and I feel like I accomplished that goal.

I may be the only person who's ever said, "that lasted longer than I thought it would". I guess I was so prepared for it to seem like "8 seconds", that I actually felt like time slowed down. I even missed a few seconds when I had to scoop up my daughter and pull her away from the equipment. The only thing I failed to see were Mercury and Mars. I had some dark spots popping in my eyes from watching the diamond ring without the solar glasses, so I think they were just too faint to compete with that. But Venus was shining brightly in the west. Because of our location near the trees, Jupiter was obscured in the east.

All in all, we drove more than 2,000 miles for the privilege of standing in the shadow of the moon. I won't go into detail about the drive home, but everything you heard about the Great American Traffic Jam is true. Google said it should take 7 and a half hours to get home...we didn't arrive until 1:00 PM the next afternoon. But it was all worth it. It was an adventure I'll never forget, and I can't wait to see my next total solar eclipse.

Our house is actually in the path of totality for the 2024 eclipse, but I really don't want to wait that long. I've already begun the process of trying to convince my wife to go to Chile for 2019!

Cheers,
Damien

These photos were taken with my Orion ED80T CF triplet on a Celestron Evolution mount, Orion field flattener, and Canon Rebel T6.. It was a simple setup and it worked great. I used the Explore Scientific Suncatcher filter for the partial phases. Controlled the camera with Backyard EOS.
Great American Eclipse Final 3 Full Frame WEB.png
Great American Eclipse Final 3 Full Frame WEB.png (2.87 MiB) Viewed 524 times
Eclipse Progression 18 x 12, 16 x 24 Social Media.png
Eclipse Progression 18 x 12, 16 x 24 Social Media.png (2.83 MiB) Viewed 524 times
Chromosphere and Prominences Close Crop.png
Chromosphere and Prominences Close Crop.png (1.33 MiB) Viewed 524 times
Earthshine IMG_3088.png
Earthshine IMG_3088.png (20.35 MiB) Viewed 524 times

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marktownley
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Re: New here / My eclipse story and images

Post by marktownley » Sun Jan 28, 2018 8:57 am

Hi Damien, welcome to the forum. That's a great account of your eclipse, it had me remembering my eclipse memories too, and briefly thinking forward to the next one. You got a really excellent set of images too. You'll enjoy your new solar scope i'm sure, you'll see some great proms I have no doubt!
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Solar images, a collection of all the most up to date live solar data on the web, imaging & processing tutorials - please take a look!

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Montana
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Re: New here / My eclipse story and images

Post by Montana » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:19 am

A very warm and sunny welcome Damien :hamster: I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story and excellent images too :bow
I also started planning for this eclipse 20 years ago too, I went to one in the UK and of course it rained and from that moment on I set my heart on this American one. Ours was a 10,000 mile round trip :lol:
If you have any questions about your new scope please don't hesitate to ask :)
Alexandra

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Carbon60
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Re: New here / My eclipse story and images

Post by Carbon60 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:21 pm

A nice story and beautiful images, Damien, evoking wonderful memories of a fabulous day with Mark, Alexandra and our better halves as we watched the eclipse unfold in all its glory just south of Silverton, OR.

Welcome to this wonderful site.

Stu.
Lunt LS60THa B1200 PTFT
150mm H-alpha Solar telescope with Lunt35 mod
DMK41, Basler acA1920-155
NEQ6 Pro-mount
Fluxgate Magnetometers (1s and 150s Cadence)
More images at http://www.flickr.com/photos/solarcarbon60/

DamienCannane
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Re: New here / My eclipse story and images

Post by DamienCannane » Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:31 pm

Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone! All 3 of you came together from the UK?

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marktownley
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Re: New here / My eclipse story and images

Post by marktownley » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:02 pm

Yup! :)
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http://brierleyhillsolar.blogspot.co.uk/
Solar images, a collection of all the most up to date live solar data on the web, imaging & processing tutorials - please take a look!

DamienCannane
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Re: New here / My eclipse story and images

Post by DamienCannane » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:56 pm

That's fantastic!!

Have any of you posted stories about your experiences? I'd love to read them.

And I hope you enjoyed your visit here! :D 10,000 miles is quite a journey.


Damien

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Montana
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Re: New here / My eclipse story and images

Post by Montana » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:11 am


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marktownley
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Re: New here / My eclipse story and images

Post by marktownley » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:47 am

Cool write up Alexandra! I'd not seen that before I don't think!
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http://brierleyhillsolar.blogspot.co.uk/
Solar images, a collection of all the most up to date live solar data on the web, imaging & processing tutorials - please take a look!

DamienCannane
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Re: New here / My eclipse story and images

Post by DamienCannane » Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:53 pm

Montana wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:11 am
Mine is here :)

https://solarnutcase.livejournal.com/19426.html

Alexandra
Thanks for sharing! That was a fun read, and the pictures are beautiful. Crazy about the plane tickets.


Damien

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Anthony M
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Re: New here / My eclipse story and images

Post by Anthony M » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:43 pm

Great story! It sounded very familiar, nothing but good memories and a bunch of new friends we met camping in Idaho to see it too. Your photos are great, it’s interesting to compare corona photos from different locations.

Cheers,

Anthony

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