Thursday, July 27, 2017

Who's up for Round 2? My Memories of the 1979 Total Solar Eclipse

I am getting ready to view my second total solar eclipse this August 21, 2017, this time for science and personal enjoyment.

As a contributor to the Citizen CATE Experiment my wife and I will be heading to Mitchell, Oregon to view and image our second total solar eclipse.

Just today I was interviewed by KTVZ News (Bend, Oregon - NBC affiliate) about my participation in this science experiment with the National Solar Observatory. It is supposed to be on the evening news tonight! I will share a link in the next blog report.

But it was 38 years ago (1979) when my wife, Denese and I, made our way to Goldendale, Washington to view our FIRST total solar eclipse.

In her little yellow Volkswagon we loaded up a jimmy-rigged wooden equatorial tripod that I mounted an Edmund Scientific Astroscan telescope to. The scope is hefty for such a low power scope and I had to counterweight it with rocks in a tennis ball can that I duct-taped to the counterweight rod! But it worked!

After an hour's journey from Sunnyside, Washington, we arrived in Goldendale at the base of the low hill on the outskirts of town, fully expecting to drive straight up the hill to the Goldendale Observatory (this was before it became a state park) and enjoy the eclipse from there and do some imaging at the same time.


We were met by a security guard and a closed gate across the entry way. It turned out that all the major networks (NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, and I think even the BBC) had commandeered the entire mountain top for themselves!

We turned around and began to search for other options.

We headed for the high school parking lot and were in luck: there was space to spare still ! RV's and cars everywhere but our little Bug could squeeze in !

We had enough time to get set up and get fairly aligned as the early stages of the eclipse were well underway.

I had attached my Pentax K1000 35mm camera body to the appropriate adapter and prepared for The Big Moment!

As we were waiting, I noticed that there were some clouds sliding down from the north towards the Sun. And the Goldendale Observatory was north of our position! Closer and closer they came and I began to wonder if they were going to cover up our view of totality.

Then totality! AWESOME !

I began to snap photos (Kodak Ektachrome 64) with the camera... but I forgot to bracket my exposures! Still I got Baily's Beads and the diamond ring effect as well as a little solar prominence (see pic below)! Of course, I didn't know any of this yet as digital photography wasn't even a dream then.

Then I gazed back to the north and yup, the clouds had TOTALLY covered the Sun just before totality began... they got nothing up at the observatory!

The moment totality ended the clouds immediately covered our view of the rest of the backside of the eclipse! WHEW !

We loaded up the VW and headed to Yakima, the only city in central Washington that had one-hour film processing for color slide film. We delivered and they delivered shortly there after!

Sadly, I have lost the slides due to multiple moves since but this image is close enough to what I captured that glorious day!

I am up for Round Two now!

And who knows, maybe Round Three in 2024's Total Solar Eclipse on the eastern side of the USA !

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