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The second full Moon in a month is referred to as a “blue Moon” and January 31 we’ll see the second full Moon of January 2018. But we will see that blue moon turn red on the 31st with the first total lunar eclipse in 2 ½ years. People on the West Coast will have a front row seat as the eclipse begins at 2:49 AM PST. Midtotality occurs at 5:29 and the eclipse ends at 8:10 AM.
The great eclipse adventure is over, the Eclipsomaniacs are back from the U.S., and what an amazing experience!
About half of the Eclipsomaniacs went down in their own vehicles. Brian Lucas and his wife went down several days early to Madras, setting up in the back of an abandoned commercial premise. Neil Sandy went to the Oregon Star Party. Debra MacWilliam, Bruce and Grace Fryer, Bruce Woodburn, and Ed Hanlon went down Saturday the 19th to Ron Jackson’s place in Portland and spent the day touring Portland and getting to know their hosts.
I went down in the Coast Cable TV van early Sunday morning with Brittany Broderson and her cameras, Peter Holden, Mugette MacDonald, and Kenneth Lui (NC rep for Vancouver Centre). Kenneth said that the Vancouver Centre’s 200 members had discussed putting together a group effort to go to the totality as we did, but they apparently decided it was too much effort and abandoned the idea, so that is why we took him along with us.
Brittany had been told by her TV colleagues that she might have all sorts of problems at the U.S. border, and we’d been hearing news accounts predicting horrible traffic on the way down to Portland. Neither turned out to be the case. The officer at the border smiled and wished us a good trip, and the traffic on the way to Portland on Sunday was normal Sunday traffic.
Ron and Karla Jackson did a stellar job of taking care of us all. The Saturday arrivals pitched in and had dinner ready for the second wave when we arrived. They’d also made lunches for the entire crew for Monday. After dinner, we all had a meeting to discuss the next morning’s events. Ron had all of the necessary information queued up on Karla’s computer, and distributed maps and walkie talkies. We got a few hours sleep.
Monday morning Bruce Woodburn headed out the door at 2 AM to try to make it to Madras. He told us later:
I left Beaverton at 0200 and promptly got lost in downtown Portland. Once back on the freeway towards The Dalles I made good time with zero traffic. I stopped in The Dalles for a Logger’s Breakfast then continued with zero traffic towards Madras… Over the next few hours I was joined by a dozen others, many from Canada, including a young fellow who had driven by himself from Calgary with a homemade binocular solarscope. He has Astronomy Society potential.
Temp: 78F. Toilet facilities unlimited. Sky clear. No clouds, haze or smoke. View through the Astro binos was excellent. The corona extended way beyond the field of the binos.
The drive home was reasonable through Oregon and no trouble at all through Washington… Great trip !!!!
Ed Hanlon got out the door a half hour after Bruce W. Ed elected to take his camera equipment a mile away from the rest of us in Madrona Park in Monmouth where he ended up with another group of astrophotographers and got some fabulous pictures.
The rest of us in Portland were on the road at 4 AM. Again, traffic volume was normal Monday morning traffic. We arrived at Main St. Park and found lots of parking. The skies were absolutely clear. We set up solar scopes and went to the coffee shop across the street to get caffeinated. The park filled up with people from all around the world who were amazed and pleased to find our Eclipsomaniacs from the RASC there to help them view the skies. We had people from all over the U.S., the U.K., Europe and Asia there. Monmouth city volunteers were handing out solar glasses, so everyone had some. Quite a number of serious photographers set up cameras and there was one other person with a telescope (8-inch Schmidt Cassegrain). Brittany set up one video camera with solar filter facing the Sun and captured the entire eclipse sequence. The other TV camera she used to interview people and record the reactions of the crowd.
Hundreds of people viewed the skies through our solar scopes, which we had tracking the Sun as soon as it cleared the trees on the horizon. As the penumbra arrived, someone remarked that they wished they could take a picture. I saw that they had a cell phone and showed them how to take one at the eyepiece of my hydrogen alpha scope. Soon scores of people were coming to take photos at the eyepiece.
The eclipse was breathtaking. The atmosphere of the crowd was electric. As the totality approached the light went platinum: it was like being in a black and white movie. Then the sky went dark, the temperature dropped and a chill wind blew through. Sunset appeared all around us and night above. Venus shone brightly and a glorious silvery corona surrounded the Sun. The crowd went wild. Unbelievable!
After the eclipse ended, the Eclipsomaniacs all packed up and prepared to head home. Those of us in the TV van headed towards I5, while Ron and Karla tried 99W. Where it had taken us an hour to get to Monmouth from Portland that morning, it took us 5 ½ hours to get back. 6 ½ hour after that, we’d only made it as far as Renton, WA, and we got hotel rooms for the night. In the morning, we started north to the border. We dropped Kenneth off in Vancouver about 3 PM, and we finally made it back to the Sunshine Coast about 7 PM.
I am already getting thank you e mails from the crowd.
I imaged it today from Roberts Creek – I didn’t want to miss such an impressive group in a period of solar minimum!
Tomorrow we have the partial eclipse here on the coast and this sunspot group should still be visible as the moon moves across the solar disc. Check it out.
I made a simple projection telescope to prepare for the Eclipse (August 21st). All it took was a plank from an old IKEA shelving unit, a few scraps of wood and a couple of lenses. The objective is a 500mm focal length lens and the Barlow is a -25 mm one. I have a spare lens set if anyone wants it.
The entire device is just over 0.8m long and extremely easy to align.
The design is so simple that anyone could make one but I did find a nice article on line at http://richardsont.people.cofc.edu/safe_solar_folder/index.html. This article would be perfect to guide a budding young scientist in getting ready for viewing the eclipse or sunspots when they appear .