29 August 2017

Aug 2017 KENTUCKY Henderson 3 - Totally

This amazing app also announced things like "look for crisp shadows" and "look for right or left facing crescent shadows." We couldn't see them on the ground, but it showed up beautifully on our green camp chairs.

It also announced "observe changes in nature." Skies became darker as the eclipse proceeded. Insects (especially grasshoppers) and birds got louder as the moon advanced across the sun. A hawk and other birds started flitting more actively, thinking it was dusk. We all closed our eyes for a bit to take in the changing sounds of nature. Temperatures lowered and later raised about 12 degrees over the time lapse.

Finally max coverage or totality was approaching. We watched for two effects (which weren't announced by the app).
First was Bailey's beads. Bailey discovered this phenomenon. Because of the hills and valleys of the moon's rough surface, light is shown unevenly at next to last glimpse before totality. It appears as a beaded "necklace" effect. None of us caught that. See: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/bailys-beads-effect.

Then just before totality, the last glimpse of the sun appears as a flash of "round" light to the side of the sun. This is called the diamond ring effect (like engagement ring). Everyone was looking for this effect. All saw it, but me. Dang missed it, but I'll know better next time. Not sure what I was doing. Probably taking a photo. See: https://sunstopper.wordpress.com/tag/diamond-ring-effect.

This happens again at the very moment the moon moves off the sun, but we were too busy getting our eclipse glasses back on to catch it. Ron was also looking for a big shadow to go racing across the open field. He did not see it.

At the exact moment of the max eclipse time, the app said "glasses off." We all took off our glasses and marveled at one of nature's most exciting moments. We each took a quick peek through Ron's binoculars rigged with its own solar "sunglasses." I took four photos. Here are my two best. I was not expecting a black and white result. I thought there would be yellowish tint around the moon from the sun's hot corona.

So many things to see and experience. Changes in temp. Sounds and sites of nature. Changing light. The dusky "sunset" behind us. Compare this with the same field above behind our chairs. The sun and the moon. All so incredibly amazing. A fleeting moment to remember for all time.

The max time for the max sun coverage was 2 minutes 40 seconds in the 100% viewing band a few miles away. We were at 99.9%. We had 2 minutes and 37 seconds view time without our solar protection eye gear. It went so fast that it seemed like maybe 30 seconds before the app called "glasses on" and then a few seconds later a more urgent "glasses on." So we obeyed and unenthusiastically put our glasses on.

Ron also took a pocket camera video of the field to see if it would capture the sun/shade line sweeping across. Did not capture, but for 3-4 minutes you can hear our oohs and aahs and comments. (I'll try to upload this file later as the file size is too big at this point.) You can also hear the sound of a loud jet planes. It was irritating. I much preferred to have listened to the sounds of nature. Anyway, we found out the story behind the jets today on a Nova episode.

NASA scientists figured a way to "stretch" and document max totality viewing time. Two jets from Ellington Air Force base in Houston would follow the path of the eclipse. The sun's shadow moves 1,600 miles per hour. These Viet Nam era WB-57 jets with telescopes and video cameras installed on their noses traveled ⅓ of that. So, one flew 50 miles ahead of the other. As one fell behind the shadow's path, the other jet took over giving over 7 minutes of documentation. This more than doubled the viewing time of scientists on earth.

We sat in silence for a moment taking a deep breathe, trying to take it all in. Imagining what people in olden days, who did not understand astronomy or science, thought about this phenomenon. Maybe they thought the world was ending. For us it was an extraordinary moment...spiritual, fascinating, amazing, other worldly.

We stayed a bit longer, but not all the way to 4th contact. After the big moment, it seemed a bit of a letdown to see the the moon slide away and the sun to return to normality. On the way back, the radio station we were listening to posed the question, "I wonder how many babies born today will be named Eclipse?!"

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