I find it difficult to put into words the magic of a total solar eclipse. As mentioned before, I traveled out to Corvallis, Oregon to stay with some friends. This turned out to be fortuitous in many ways. First, the traffic was surprisingly light - I presume that folks who traveled to the path of totality ended up near Madras, near the center-line of totality and a surer bet for clear skies. Being in Corvallis meant a few seconds less of totality, but the weather cooperated by producing clear, blue skies. I traveled to Oregon with a small 400 mm f.l. guiding scope, a small, manually operated equatorial mount, and my DSLR. Slight tweaks on the RA knob sufficed to keep the sun centered in the viewfinder of the camera, so I had plenty of time to look around me at the people and surroundings, as well as the eclipse itself.
As the moon bit into the sun, various people in the small park that we were in dropped by to take a look and take a peak through the viewfinder. Without exception, all throughout the eclipse this elicited an "ah!" or "incredible!" or "amazing!" I met a variety of people with a wide range of astronomy experience, including a planetary scientist at Cal Tech. What struck me was how hungry people seemed for the sense of awe and wonder typical of the study of astronomy, though admittedly, a total solar eclipse is about as good as it gets.
I had practiced my photography in the weeks leading up to the eclipse, though, of course, totality was a completely new experience, so I was unsure how things would turn out. As the eclipse progressed, I took a series of images at 1/125 of a second exposures, at approximate 5 minute intervals. When totality occurred I continued with 1/125 exposures (without the solar filter, of course!) at 5 to 10 second intervals, with one 1/2000 sec exposure near the middle. Because the scope was aligned well, I had plenty of time to look around and see the magical changes around me and up in the sky, and the reactions of the people. To relive the experience, I suggest you go to YouTube and search "Veritasium" and "solar eclipse". Derek Muller does a wonderful job capturing the anticipation and joy of the experience.
My video consisting of a time lapse series of the images is available below; the individual images can be found here: goo.gl/photos/PxBdrJiwVxhQmJUd9
Entries written by NSO Docents and Educators
Operators of the NSO and teachers in local high school and middle schools.