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blog:2017_eclipse:start

My Experience of the 2017 Solar Eclipse

On 21 August 2017, a total solar eclipse spanned the United States.
My friends and I drove to see it in Athens, Tennessee.
From there, totality was visible for two and a half minutes.
Roughly 10,000 people were in a park watching the eclipse.

One friend brought his 4-inch telescope and a solar filter.
I took most of these pictures by holding my phone up to the eyepiece.

Click on any picture to see the full-size version.

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The first moment when we discerned the Moon in front of the Sun.
The weather was hot, humid, and cloudless – perfect for watching the sun.

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Many pictures have optical artifacts from the telescope.
Most are from me not perfectly centering my phone on the eyepiece.

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The other important artifact is that the pictures are reversed.
In reality, the Moon moved in from the right side of the Sun.
Through the telescope, the Moon appeared to move in from the left.

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We put space blankets over my friend's (black) car.
They did a great job of keeping the car cool.

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During this time, the city hosted milk-product-consumption contests.

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One of my friends almost won the buttermilk-drinking competition.

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The ice-cream-eating competition ended minutes before totality began.

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At this point, you could tell that it was getting dimmer outside.

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By now, the birds were chirping and the insects were buzzing.
This was around 2:00 in the afternoon, local time.

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All day, my friends and I tried to think of eclipse-themed music.
Ten minutes before totality, I rememberd Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon.
The last song is titled “Eclipse”, and the last line is:

But the Sun is eclipsed by the Moon

Hurrying, I pulled out my computer and found the song.
We swept through the track to find when that line occurs.
(For future reference, it is at 1 minute 15 seconds.)
We plugged my laptop into the car stereo, opened the doors, and turned the volume all the way up.

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The air got cool as the last of the Sun's surface was obscured.
At the last instant of sunlight, and the perfectly-timed climax of the song,
the crowd of over 10,000 people cheered.

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Obscured by the Moon, the Sun's appearance dramatically changed.
It suddenly changed from a still-bright ball of light into a ring.
It was amazing to see in person.
I took this picture just by pointing my phone at the Sun.
It looks nothing like how it did while standing there.

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Through the telescope, the details are clear.
This is pretty much how it actually looked to the naked eye.
I could just barely see the pink/purple layer on the inside edge.


For 2.5 minutes, my friends I frantically observed the Sun.
That sounds a little strange,
but we were in a hurry to see the amazing sight in the sky
and also to capture it for the future.
We each took turns at the telescope and tried to catch a picture
before looking up at the sight of a brilliant ring
where the Sun had always been.
We were trying to satisfy all of our curiosity in two short minutes.


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After two and a half minutes, the Moon moved past the Sun.
As soon as a sliver of the Sun's surface was revealed,
it suddenly changed back to a brilliant ball in the sky.
The crowd cheered again at the return of the Sun.

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As soon as toitality ended, 6,000+ people got in their cars.

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Traffic leaving the park was at a total standstill.
My friends and I waited for the eclipse to completely end.

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I took a few pictures of the Sun through my eclipse glasses.
At full size, you can barely see a slice out of the Sun.

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An hour after totality, the Sun looked normal to the naked eye, even with glasses.
After hour and a half, you could barely see the Moon through the telescope.

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Finally, the Sun fully returned, and my tired friends and I returned home.

blog/2017_eclipse/start.txt · Last modified: 2020/11/15 21:22 by avh