I can’t find any write-up on my blog about the solar eclipse.
At the time, there was so much commotion following the eclipse, with most of my posting done on the Westchester Astronomers site. So, here’s some of my reactions and photos. The October 2017 WAA newsletter has many remembrances of the eclipse. Please feel free to add links to your own summaries in the comments!
Total Solar Eclipse: Clemson University, South Carolina
With less than ten minutes until totality, one of the towering cumulus clouds that had been threatening to overshadow us moved in front of the Sun and Moon. Since we had discussed my background in meteorology, eyes turned toward me and I silently cursed myself for not timing how long that cloud took to cross the Sun/Moon. As I scanned the skies, I muttered something about how sacrificing meteorologists as an offering to the weather gods was not proven to be effective at holding off clouds. Finally, I said the next set of clouds were far enough east of us to hold off until well after totality.
Then the darkness arrived as if someone dropped a box over us. The air felt like we were sitting in front of an air conditioner. The corona flashed into feathery brilliance. The circular inner corona had details that made me wish I could draw. The spiky outer corona was dimmer, but easy to see.
Canon XS f/11 0.6 seconds zoom lens at 55mm ISO-200. Lightly processed with auto levels.
Cropped from wider scene above. The dot to the upper left is the bright star Regulus in Leo.
Venus, to my right, was as bright as I’ve ever seen it, gleaming and seemingly out of place in the suddenly dark, blue daytime sky. I didn’t see Jupiter to my left – I think it was covered by the oncoming cloud.
Cropped from slightly larger view of eclipsed sun with Venus to lower right. Nikon Coolpix S7000 f/3.4 1/20 seconds ISO-800, 4mm focal length.
My 8×25 binoculars provided excellent views, taking in the whole corona in wonderful detail. Regulus was easily visible to the upper left of the corona. All too soon, a pink rim appeared around the western side of the lunar limb. “It’s the photosphere,” I shouted. (Of course, it was the chromosphere, but I did correctly describe it as the dimmer layer above the blinding surface layer we typically see.) I thought ‘wow, totality really does go by fast.’ At the 2, 3 and 5 o’clock positions pink prominences stood out from the Sun. In binoculars, the 3 o’clock prominence appeared like tiny pink Slinky toy arcing over the dark limb of the Moon. The 5 o’clock prominence intensified until it looked like a red laser beam gleaming in the sky. (I wish I knew which lunar canyon that was shining through.) The pink lights seemed to cling to the side of the Moon forever. To think I had thought the show was over!
Finally, a pure white intense ‘diamond ring’ occurred, brighter than I thought was possible. I missed any ‘Baily’s Beads’ as I turned away from the sunlight shooting through the gap at 5 o’clock where just seconds ago the pink prominence was so bright. The grass turned orange again as it had just before totality. Some people described the shadows as sharper; they just looked abnormal to me, beyond my ability to describe. Families with small children ran under the trees shouting joyously among the projections of delicately thin crescents.
A few minutes later, I heard the calliope of cicadas. They had been making a racket all day, but I realized I hadn’t heard them during totality. The clouds that had threatened us dissipated and stayed away for a half hour after totality. I had planned to get some better photos during the second half of the eclipse, but I sat under the trees and reviewed my photos from the Canon XS and Carol’s Nikon Coolpix and the movies from my iPhone and Galaxy Tab.
Clemson University did a wonderful job. Clemson is used to dealing with large (think 50,000 football fans) crowds. I took them up on their offer to set up my tripods in the Carillon Gardens. When I showed up, I showed them my email and got a VIP badge. We had a view of the terraced landscape with crowds of people with and below us. In our section, skill levels ranged from seasoned observers (with solar scopes and up to 11-inch telescopes) to young families that settled in for the shade around the edges of the Gardens. Everyone was gracious and shared views and information, even the guy with several cameras feeding into a computer screen shielded by a cardboard box who let me know the timings when I tended toward sensory overload.
I met some fascinating people on the train from DC and back that night. Thank you, Amtrak! The trains left late but we had plenty of time to spare. Thanks for the Amtrak bus from Greenville, and the CATbus at Clemson.
One more word – thank you, Westchester Astronomers, for eclipse glasses. Friends, family and co-workers were thrilled to see the partial phases and share in the experience of the eclipse across America in New York, Philadelphia, DC, California and who-knows-where the glasses went!
My notes from right after the eclipse:Scan_20171228