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… 😉 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…  🙂

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