In the shade of the moon

Thanks to a recent Vox article, I made last-minute plans to drive south to experience the eclipse in totality.

After dropping Suzi off at work early in the morning, I traveled back roads over the hills and through the countryside to McMinnville. Because the traffic was light, I continued further south to Independence.

Surrounded by a bunch of other excited eclipse watchers, we applauded as a scientist explained what we were about to see. A man yelled, “First contact!” as the moon edged against the face of the sun and we donned our solar safety glasses to take a look. Clearly, he could see first contact projected from his small, Newtonian telescope better than we could see just looking at the sun.

As the moon continued to slowly move across the sun, I went and looked through a small refractor telescope with a solar filter, then looked closer at the small telescope projecting the sun’s imaged onto a screen.1For some inexplicable reason, my small Newtonian telescope I used for the 2010 Venus transit remained in my attic. Time to get it out and explore the night sky again. We made pinholes with our hands to project crescents onto the cement and went over to some nearby trees to look at their shadows on the sidewalk.

About an hour after first contact, two minutes of totality happened! It was both darker and lighter than I expected. Lighter, because it felt like dusk where I was able to take a selfie and darker because we could see planets and stars. Amazing!

I didn’t try to take any artistic pictures having only a smartphone and a point and shoot. I’m sure the internet is filled with many awesome shots and videos. I’m looking forward to finding them.

Of course, my selfie ended up on Instagram.

After totality, many started to leave even though Portland band Idle Poets started to play. That seemed like the right time to stick around. The show wasn’t over.

I saw a couple looking intently in the “wrong” direction and went over to “helpfully” tell them where the eclipse was still happening. Instead, they showed me that Venus was faintly visible if you knew where to look.

Another hour after totality and it was over.

Or maybe it’s just begun. I can see why some chase eclipses around the globe. I’m looking forward to seeing my next one.2Next time, I’ll know better what to bring: solar eclipse sunglasses, hat, regular sunglasses, sunscreen, sunscreen chapstick, camera with medium to long lens and photographic solar filter, telescope rigged to project the image or with a solar screen, lots to drink, folding chair, umbrella. I probably wouldn’t bring all the gadgets, but it’s nice to have the reminder list to be able to decide.

How was it for you?

Update: I started searching YouTube and found a video filmed where I was. It’s great to hear the crowd. Can I get an OMG?

2012 Venus Transit

Venus passed in front of the sun today.

It was quite an event. My neighbor had a long box with a pinhole for projecting the image for his daughters. Then he brought out his Meade Maksutov telescope and camera.

Neighbors walking and biking by stopped to look and talk. I learned the Hindi name for Venus is “Shukra.”

I also took video. I was amazed at how quickly the sun moved across the cardboard.

Good Morning, Folsom!

The sun greeted me this morning as I walked into FM7.

A couple of minutes earlier, the sun was skirting the edge of the clouds, casting pale blue rays into the sky. Unfortunately, instead of taking pictures, I was on my knees in the parking lot, peering under my rental car, searching for two renegade AA batteries that escaped when I dropped my camera.

After a rain-soaked night, it’s nice to see the sun. :-)