Thursday, February 18, 2016

Part 1: Prepare to Meet Thy Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017

Yes, the northwest is going to be blessed with another total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 !
The last one was Feb. 26, 1979, the path of which crossed over the Goldendale Observatory (info) just outside of Goldendale, Washington (map).

At that time, my wife and I were living in Sunnyside, Washington (map)   and we made the one hour trip to get in the path of the eclipse. Our aim was to get up to the observatory for the big event. But we were turned away at the lower gate: all the major news networks had taken up position at the observatory (map) and there was "no room in the inn" for us normal folk.

So we drove around Goldendale looking for an "less than ideal" spot, which turned out to be the parking lot of the high school. We set up our little Astroscan scope that I had jimmy-rigged onto an old equatorial mount and attached my Pentax K1000 camera to it with some good old Ekatchrome slide film.
That's my still beautiful wife at the scope
with her VW bug we both miss!

Anybody remember this?

Or these?

Well, just before the beginning of totality I noticed some clouds building up on the north side of the Sun. I looked up at the observatory and... it was in the shade of those clouds! All the networks were unable to see the Sun at totality! We were in the best position after all !

I shot away and we enjoyed the moment!

The images were great! There were Baily's Beads and a prominence, too ! (the photo here is not my shot but exactly like mine)

But I forgot to "bracket" my exposures (that means vary the amount of light via shutter speed selections) and I missed capturing the corona. Here is what it would have looked like...

Anyway, just as totality ended those very same clouds covered our view of the Sun.

We stowed the gear, jumped into the car and headed to Yakima where there was a one hour film processing store to get our film developed. (Who remembers that too?)

Ah, for digital photography back then! I would have noticed my need to bracket and been assured of proper exposure "on the fly"!

So.... I am going to be better prepared for next year's total solar eclipse so that I vary my exposures and capture it in ALL of its incredible beauty!

In fact, I will have at least 3 DSLR cameras capturing the event: one recording it as a movie, another capturing the wide field view including the landscape, another on an equatorial mount closeup!

So, get prepared!   Be sure to check out Part 2: Prepare to Meet Thy Total Solar Eclipse on August, 21, 2017

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