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Observing Reports / IN THE MOON'S SHADOW
« Last post by Mark on Today at 12:39:16 PM »
There is no way to describe this. But, a scene in Carl Sagan's Cosmos, where Ellie sees a galaxy up close from the outside, and says, in rapture: "no words, no words…. they should have sent a poet" gets there. Good old Carl, a way with words (and science).

I joined a group of eclipse-goers in Oregon, on the Calpooia River south of Salem. Hosted by friends of Max Vanderwyst, childhood friend of my son-in-law and his family, this was an intimate group in a friendly, relaxed environment. Pleasant shade camping, next to the river with nice swimming holes.

But this is about the eclipse.

Once the temperature changed noticeably, we all went out to a huge field next to the property. We watched as the Dragon ate the Sun, taking an ever larger bite, while the temperature continued dropping. A hot day now was chilly enough I had some shivers. The horizons took on an eerie opalescent hazy glow. Birds in trees began chattering. Nearly all traffic on the nearby road stopped. The only real sounds were of excited children in our group.

Excitement grew as the last tiny sliver sat, for what seemed almost tantalizingly long. Then darkness.
Off came the solar glasses. Things happened so fast, so fast I could hardly think of what to so. I stood there, as the black disk of the moon hid all but some bright glow… then… then…

The Diamond Ring sprang outward from the trailing edge of the Moon. The sky was a strange almost muted turquoise blue. The Sun, the Diamond, was a brilliant creamy bulge on the side of the Black. Rays emanated from it. The edges of the Black were ringed by a bright glow. Up near the Diamond, Bailey's Beads showed as small, what I would call glowing lumps of red lava, points of light, arcing up around the northern edge of the Black.

People were screaming. Jumping. Crying. Standing agape in amazement. The children were holding each other jumping up and down, 7 year olds and younger yelling "this is awesome!!!"…. what a sight of humanity in sheer awe. My daughter in tears.
I stood, mouth open, dumbfounded, thinking of Sagan. No words… no words.

It passed so quickly. But that's life, isn't it? A spectacular moment. No amount of reading, or hearing people's descriptions, and certainly not this one, can touch what occurred. Its like describing God. You can't. You're not that.

What were the best parts of being in the Moon's Shadow? The Diamond Ring is awesome. Way more than awesome. It is other-worldly. Like the Sun disappeared and a brilliant space ship arrived, glowing off one side.

Its described as spiritual, transcendent, and yes, I have to agree. I've seen and experienced something I'll never forget (the first time is always memorable), and I did it with my pregnant daughter, her husband and his family, and many new friends who shared something that words can't touch. "They should have sent a poet." The kids will be talking about this in the year 2100....

Texas, 2024. Plans already made…..
Observing Reports / Eclipse 2017 from just north of Salem Oregan
« Last post by Marko on Yesterday at 10:42:04 PM »
Have had a wonderful visit with my brother inlaw and his sister (my wife of course).
Have been all about to many great places and today was our main course, the eclipse.

Having zero experience unlike many other TACos I will say that it has been an unforgetable experience to be remembered due to it is so unlike our normal experiences and I suspect there is some primal wonder having to do with our sun and what is 'normal' for it perhaps.

Viewed just north of Salem with a clear sky that I suspect had some smoke but it was not something that one could detect easily if at all when looking up where the sun was placed. Traffic in getting there was quite easy starting at 5:30am from 5 miles south of Portland to site by 6:30  but the way back had several accidents from extra eclipse crowd so delayed 1.5 hours longer than un-cluttered.

I had setup a small scope to be a sort of projector onto a tripod holding a flat white stiff board.  This made us rather popular at this site where we had maybe 15 onlookers at this simple rig.  there were perhaps 30 cars on a great big field where it was $10 per person for a ticket to this large 'Steam Power  Site' (name not right) AND we got admission to see old steam engines and machines.   Anyway, the optics were not offering a crisp telescopic view but one could see the 3 sunspots well into the disk and lots of people were taking pics of the 3" dia image of the sun prior to totality (nothing on this in totality as all eyes were to the sky and loads of 'oohs' and 'ahhs' and claping in totality.

Here are the distinct things that make this unique in my book
- The darkening of the sky was extremely gradual as it is with partial eclipse then within a minute of totality you could detect the darkening at a very quick rate.
- It got colder with no sun as the sun became a thin sliver.  This is of course obvious but I had not thought about it before.
- In totality the direct vision of the eclipse was not easily explained but was just like the photos one sees with a great deal of crona radiating outward.  What was surprising was the dynamic range of dark to light was shocking because a TV/Monitor cannot show the dynamic range the eye can view.   This is much like looking at a picture of the double cluster or other cluster with many mags of stars is beautiful due to the great range of intensities only an eye can really appriciate.
- Rather by accident we saw the smaller spots of light shining through a tree near our dark car made each spot of light into a crescent.  That was rather cool and again, not expected.
- It was not as dark as I had thought it would be
- It was over so fast I never got to looking for the planets I had spoke of.   Lol.

Unforgetable just the same.

I kept this a fully visual experience and tried to soak it all in best I could as the time in totality flies by far faster than you would like it to last.

I thank Joe-Bob and James (T) and several others for giving me a nudge to do this trip as it is about as easy of a trip that can be done for an eclipse plus have a great visit with brother in law.
Observing Reports / Re: The partial eclipse from Palo Alto
« Last post by gparker on Yesterday at 08:14:00 PM »
I set up around 9:30 outside my workplace at Cupertino City Center. 80mm Stellarvue refractor and a 25mm plossl eyepiece, using eyepiece projection to display a bright 6" image. A few minutes later a co-worker arrived with a small reflector and a front filter. Other spectators brought assorted pinhole cameras and filter glasses. At peak eclipse time we had a crowd of about 200 people. A few dozen viewers saw the first sunspots reappear from behind the shadow, and a handful saw the last seconds of contact tick away.

Not a bad result for a rig that I cobbled together the day before. I had a few hours to test so I was pretty sure that nothing would overheat. I was willing to sacrifice the eyepiece if necessary. In the end I couldn't feel any heat buildup anywhere. My drive battery didn't work on site for some reason, but the eyepiece was low power so nudging the telescope every few minutes was feasible.

Observing Reports / The partial eclipse from Palo Alto
« Last post by buynoski on Yesterday at 11:05:14 AM »
     At first it looked like a complete cloud-out, but we got a fairly long break running from before to shortly after maximum eclipse. A small gathering of about 10 friends and neighbors got a good look at maximum eclipse of ca. 75%.

     The equipment in use consisted of a 60mm Coronado 0.5A-bandwidth hydrogen-alpha telescope, and one pair of eclipse glasses. 

     In the hydrogen-alpha, at 50X, one could see the roughness of the Moon's edge, i.e. the silhouette of the mountains on the Moon, plus the usual super-granulation on the Sun's surface.  The two sunspot groups and one large prominence, both of which the GONG website was showing to be there, were covered up by the Moon while we had our break in the clouds.  Seeing was surprisingly steady, very little if any noticeable "bouncing around" at 50X.
Observing Intents / Re: Eclipse 2017: Planets in a row for eclipse
« Last post by DDK on Yesterday at 06:34:22 AM »
That's thoughtful, Marko. I'll be looking!
Observing Intents / Eclipse 2017: Planets in a row for eclipse
« Last post by Marko on August 20, 2017, 10:08:27 PM »
Just a reminder to those that do get to a location with totality.   There is one quick observation of 5 points of interest on a near line in totality.   The sun/moon will be next to Regulus and then below and to the left will be Mercury at lower left of this long line going up and to the right.  Mercury is always a lousy view as we see crescent only and super low.  Tomorrow is a time where it will be a sphere but only mag 3.8 but there is little time to really view it so just bino spot it fast.   if anyone is lucky enough to notice and it is really tiny but same brightness as the star 47 Leo at mag 3.8 that will be around 5 deg above Mercury (relative to horizon)    Anyway, besides that we have Mars at bright 1.7 or so and up and to the right 45 deg of sun/moon/Regulus also by about 10 deg.  As if not enough, continue on about 12 deg to beehive about on this same line which is a naked eye huge open cluster, M44. Finally  Venus 15 degrees farther which will be the brightest thing besides sun on this long line.
Clear Skies,   
Marko on 'The Oregon Eclipse Trail'
Equipment Discussions / Re: Comet filter?
« Last post by Don Pensack on August 12, 2017, 01:13:37 PM »
Many inexpensive O-III filters also transmit the C2 lines, so make decent "comet" filters.
[You'd have to know the spectrum of transmission, and Lumicon will test a filter for free or provide you details
on a filter they've tested.]
And since these typically have much narrower bandwidths than many "CLS/Broadband" type filters, also yield more contrast.
Note that they only enhance the gas tail.  The dust tail is usually full spectrum and usually best without a filter.
Equipment Discussions / Re: counterbalancing a truss dob?
« Last post by Don Pensack on August 12, 2017, 01:09:12 PM »
For looks, add two small finger-shaped pins to the bottom edge of the top side of the mirror box.
Buy a few dumbbell weights of 2.5 and 5 lbs.  Add the weights to the pins as needed.
If you only need one weight and not above 30° altitude, a bungee cord between the bottom edge of the top of the mirror box
and the rocker box below it will suffice as a "virtual" couterweight.  Just make sure the length of the bungee is the right length
that it doesn't start getting stretched until the scope is getting low.  As the cord stretches, the equivalent counterweight increases,
which is ideal.  If your eyepieces vary in weight a lot, a second hook and second bungee cord may be needed.
TAC Imaging / NGC 6946 Fireworks Galaxy and SN 2017eaw
« Last post by jeffweiss9 on August 11, 2017, 02:24:30 PM »
This is an 11.7 hour HaLRGB of the Fireworks Galaxy and its most recent supernova, SN 2017eaw (in the upper arm at 1 o'clock).  Taken during three different nights at the Bear Gulch Users Area at Pinnacles N.P., East. Conditions were excellent the first night with SQM readings to 21.80 (21.90 for another imager) and quite good the other two nights.  Great place.

Link at

Annual Star Parties / CalStar is 6 weeks away!
« Last post by CharlieWicks on August 07, 2017, 03:12:51 PM »

This is a reminder that CalStar is only 6 weeks away. There are still spaces left. Last year we sold out, so if you haven't registered and are planning to go, don't wait until the last minute.

Visit to register.

Clear Skies,

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