Friday, August 25, 2017

The Great American Eclipse

(two solar postings in one month!)
I first heard about this maybe a year or so ago, but did nothing about it.  With young kids, plans are often last minute.  Last month, we decided we could finally commit, so we scrambled for a hotel room or campsite.  Naturally, they were all booked up, at least online. There were a few vacancies provided by first-time AirBNBers wanting to take full advantage of price gouging. We found places in Portland, so we secured those first, but later on a whim, I decide to phone around at various hotels inside totality.  Surprisingly, it took less than five calls to find a hotel that still had rooms at reasonable rates; they were reserved for non-internet customers.

From Oklahoma - there was certainly an eventful excitement in the air

An hour before totality, people would park next to open fields with picnic blankets
We chose to watch from a park, where eclipse festivities brought locals and tourists out in the hundreds.

And the moment we were waiting for - totality!  A star appeared just left of the sun, which unfortunately wasn't capturable with the camera settings I used

And here's the exuberance of a crowd immersed in the shadow of the moon.

Getting to totality was fine...getting out was a 7 hour trip, normally only 4 hours.
We had just over a minute of totality from where we were, in Woodburn, Oregon.  There are few natural wonders that are as grand as a solar eclipse, and everyone in our group agreed it was entirely worth the drive.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Can't get much bigger than this (aside from the accidental capture of a far-off universe in a night photo):

This is the first time I've photographed the sun as a subject. Only used a UV filter, and dialed back exposure to -2 stops.  That little dot is a sunspot, about 11 times the size of the earth.  I needed to take multiple photos with the sun in different positions just to confirm that it wasn't a speck on my lens.

The smoke from forest fires has made midday feel like a third world country with lax pollution controls.  A week ago, when the smoke began blowing in, it triggered memories of coal smoke from villages in Tanzania and the pervasive smog in Beijing.  Fortunately for us, this should scrub out the first rainfall, which some weather reports are calling for in about a week's time.