Can You Say TOTALITY?

I have been busier than a six legged dog a scratching fleas, but…I made time to gather up my telescopes, binoculars, eclipse glasses, umbrellas, cameras, snacks, coolers, lawn chairs, then load up the fam damily even if they did not want to go, picked up a straggler, (a friend of one of the boys) and drove the hour and a half drive to Eddyville Ky. for the Total Eclipse of the Sun!

Eddyville was darn close to the centerline of totality, and NOT one of the big towns garnering all of the attention, (and droves of people by my reasoning) so it seemed like a good spot to go.

We rolled into Eddyville snooping for a good place to setup, I saw a sign about some city park, figured that might be a good place to try. We got there only to be met by a park employee with lights flashing away on the park truck, they were not allowing eclipse goers to access the park. I mean they shut down a city park! I guess they knew we were coming… πŸ˜‰ The nice lady handed us a printed map showing the “approved” viewing locations in Eddyville. Sheesh! I looked the map over, they were malls, a water park, and other places with concrete/blacktop to setup on, and my goal was grass. It was a blistering 95 degrees today and with the kind of humidity we get ’round here you really don’t want to be spending time on a blacktop lot for any reasonable amount of time.

So we backtracked a ways, I remembered seeing a sign previously indicating a river access point for the launching of boats. (We were right along the Cumberland River) We got down there and first thing we saw were a handfull of other eclipse enthusiasts setup. So I pulled in. I drove around to where a couple of folks were setup and took a parking spot. The parking lot was paved, but fortune leaned my way, right at the edge of the pavement was freshly cut grass. It took a good while to get everything unloaded and arranged, but we managed.

I set up my ED 80, equipped with a solar filter, and mounted on the Celestron ASGT mount. The mount is driven and keeps up with the motion of the sky, but you have to set it up just so for the tracking to work right. Try as I might, I nudged and fudged and fiddled but never got that mount to track as it should. Which meant I had to tweak it along the entire time I took pics. I also setup another 90mm achromat refractor in front of a whiteboard. This was a projection rig that could be safely observed with no glasses or other eye protection.

I took some time to chat with my new neighbors, the people right next to us was a mother from Wisconsin, and her two sons from Chicago. They had other family on the way, and they did indeed make it for the event. Just on the other side of them was an older gent from Indiana, and he had his mother with him. He had an 8″ Schmidt Cassegrain setup for solar views and pic taking. I also met another astronomy nerd who hailed from New Hampshire. He won the ‘who drove the farthest for the eclipse award!’ At least among those I met.

I took a few pics the day before as a test run. This is one:

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It was hot. Damn hot. I was fiddling with the scope mount and missed first contact. Dammit. I caught this as my first pic of the day today:

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There was a persistent haze in the sky, and a few wispy clouds. The haze made it difficult to achieve good focus. Any upcoming pics that look whiter will be suffering from the haze. The haze pretty much was consistent.

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This next pic was my last. My ding dang battery died! I had another battery but it refused to take a charge, and I thought I would maybe get through this event, I sadly did not. The wife got a decent pic through her handheld camera, I will try to get it up soon.

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Once totality hit it was like someone hit the light switch. It got dark! We could see Venus to our right. And Jupiter to our lower left. I had binoculars on hand for totality because when totality strikes you can look directly at it with binoculars and it was spectacular! The corona was glowing brilliantly. We could also see Mercury in the same binocular view. Everyone in my group got a good look with binoculars and we oohed and ahhed so much, I felt bad for my immediate neighbors, they had no binoculars, so I walked over and shared the binoculars with them. They were as stunned with the view as we were. I got the binocs back and took another good look, as I did the eclipse was seconds away from ending. I actually saw through the binoculars Baileys Beads. Baileys Beads is a well known phenomenon that resembles 4-5 bright pearl like beads strung out along of the freshly exposed limb. Just a mind blowing sight, and then it was way too bad to look at anymore as the suns glow was bright enough to hurt my eyes, I had to look away. It was over.

Hey there is another total eclipse not far from here in 7 years. I am making plans… Β πŸ™‚

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21 thoughts on “Can You Say TOTALITY?

  1. Wow! Those are amazing. What a bummer that your battery went dead just before totality. Where I live, Gulf Coast, it was 82%. Thanks for sharing.

    • I could have stayed home and had a 98-99% coverage eclipse. I knew though, totality was worth all the trouble of an hour and a half expedition πŸ™‚ I HAD to go both for myself, and the kids. We talked about the eclipse all the way home, it stoked us all. A family event to be remembered.

      I am both irritated and relieved the battery died. Once you are experiencing totality the last thing you want to do is be preoccupied with obsessing over cameras. So in a way it was a blessing. As I would have missed part of the experience.

      That said my first thing on the to do list for the next eclipse is to buy a spare battery… The 2024 eclipse will be more like a 5-6 hour drive to get to the centerline of totality. We may get a motel for that one.

  2. We drove 9 hours to Cookeville TN. No fancy photo equipment, but it was amazing. Totally worth it. We watched from a grassy hill outside our hotel.

    • Awesome! That you got to see it, and awesome cuz, well it was AWESOME!

      Making the trip for totality is worth it. An experience that can only be experienced.

      During totality we were able to see the sun, the moon, Venus, Jupiter, and with the binoculars the corona in vivid detail as well as Mercury in the same field of view.

    • I wish I had fancy photo equipment! πŸ™‚ I merely happen to have a few telescopes due to an astronomy addiction and a very small cheesy little digital camera. It is a matter of making do with what I have really. But that’s alright it’s what we do…

  3. I live in Oregon … a bit south of the full eclipse. Was going to watch it but we never got around to buying glasses. As it turned out, the sky was so full of smoke and haze we wouldn’t have gotten the full effect anyway. I did notice how dark it got, but not to the extent you describe.

    Anyway, great pics! And definitely an event to be remembered. Thanks for sharing.

    • I’m sorry you missed out 😦 I had heard about folks out your way being smoked out. There is another one in 2024. I’ll see you there πŸ™‚

      Thanks for dropping by Nan.

  4. Great shots! I cannot believe your battery died before the money shot! I am glad you are the type to enjoy the awesomeness of the moment to have let that spoil your day. It was truly an amazing sight!

    • Yeah, the battery was my own fault really, I was so caught up in the everything I wasn’t monitoring the battery. I was going to begin recording video for the last 2 minutes so I’d be getting solar phenomenon such as the corona, and Baileys Beads, and/ or the diamond ring effect. But as it was I could not have been disappointed it was just that fantastic. I’ll do more better next time πŸ™‚

      I got to tell you the experience is intoxicating in some strange way, I can’t wait to see another one. I understand now why people travel all over the world to catch eclipses.

      Thanks for dropping in Mr. Swarn.

      • Yeah, we decided to go visit friends in Iowa, which was only at 95% of totality, but they are great hosts/cooks, so we thought, if it’s cloudy at least we’ll have fun. And we did, and it was cloudy. About 10 minutes before the max coverage, the sun did peak out and we caught several more glimpses over the next 40 minutes, often through a thin veil of clouds…totality will happen very close to us in 2024, so I’m definitely getting that one! You should come visit!

      • Much of my family hails from Iowa. I have been there a lot through the years.

        There is nothing that I would enjoy more than a visit with all of my blog friends. An afternoon of hanging out, talking stuff, and a cold beer with people I have come to know and appreciate would be darn near as cool as an eclipse. I keep having this weird fleeting notion of an annual event where we could all meet up, sort of a WP Blog Con. But I have lots of ideas lol.

      • I have thought about this too. We might need to make it happen. It’s hard though to decide who to invite. lol But I do know seeing the eclipse with you would be a blast!

      • Also it is amazing how just the pure coincidence of being in the right place at the right time and geometry is. It’s the reason why I love science. How something that is not magical at all, can feel that way.

      • When you break it down it is simply a matter of geometry/physics, and being in the right place at the right time. Intersting how an event the world has experienced for eons can generate such a wealth of satisfaction, awe, and appreciation in us mere humans…

      • Although I guess it’s true that such simplicity appeared so magical to people that they feared it. To me that lends evidence to the fact that science doesn’t take away beauty, it just removes fear. πŸ™‚

  5. Brilliant! And how fortunate no clouds!
    Remember Haley’s Comet?
    We drove several hours out of Johannesburg when it was supposed to be at it best position to see with the naked eye. Half an hour after we checked into our chalets in the bush the clouds moved in and stayed like that for the next two days!

    • Hello Ark!

      We were lucky with the weather. I was prepared to drive 2-3 hours in either direction along the eclipse path if I had to, but my first choice panned out.

      In regards to Halley’s we were able to see it naked eye from the front yard. Had many binocular observations. Binoculars was all I had at that time.

      I know how bummed out one can be from getting washed out by the weather. It has happenned a few times in my astro hobby. It’s like a punch in the gut when it is a once in a lifetime experience, you do everything in your power to be where you can see it, and wham! The weather shuts you down.

      My kids should be able to catch Halley’s next time around, it makes its return in 2061.

      Thanks for sharing your pain πŸ™‚

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