Road Trip

Blogging will be light to non-existent for the next ten days or so, as I head out west on a road trip to see next Monday’s solar eclipse. Current plan is to fly to Denver tomorrow, pick up a vehicle, and head up to Wyoming the next day. If weather projections look good for the Wyoming/Idaho part of the track, that’s where we’ll plan to end up, likely camping out somewhere (accommodations along the track have long been booked up).

This will be the ninth eclipse I’ve traveled to see, and I urge anyone thinking of making a trip to the eclipse track to do so. A total solar eclipse is something quite different than a partial one, and this is a very rare opportunity to see this in the US. Besides the eclipse, a major motivation for these trips has always been that of getting to visit a more or less random place on Earth that one wouldn’t otherwise have any excuse to see. I’ve driven quickly through Idaho and Wyoming a few times over the years, look forward to spending more time in that part of the country this coming week (unless the weather there looks bad, in which case maybe we’ll end up in Oregon or Nebraska).

Some other random advice about eclipses:

  • Be very careful about use of binoculars or telescopes, improper use of these at any time other than the period of totality is what can cause serious eye damage (by itself the eye is pretty good about automatically protecting itself).
  • Don’t put a lot of effort into photography during totality, since that’s likely to lead to you spending the time you should be enjoying the experience fiddling with camera equipment (and not getting a good result anyway…). A simple thing to do is to set up a camera to take video of the overall eclipse scene as it happens, turn it on at some point then ignore it.

If you miss this one, next couple are far south in South America, there will be another chance in the US relatively soon, April 2024.

Update: Now back in New York. Had a very good view of the eclipse from a spectacular location: Stanley, Idaho, up in the Sawtooth mountains. Only not quite optimal part of the plan was camping out not not well-equipped for the the unexpected fact that it gets down to about freezing at night in that part of Idaho, even in August…

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19 Responses to Road Trip

  1. Shantanu says:

    Peter , OT.
    TevPA talks at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnjICNLvtj4 and so on
    (this one is a link to Nima’s talk)

  2. Gus Bici says:

    Me & doggie driving to Idaho Falls from Tucson. Ogden UT was as close as I could get for Sunday night reservations when I booked over a month ago. Will rise early on Monday to get in the totality shadow over Idaho. If it is cloudy oh well – it will be extra dark I guess:)

  3. Abby yorker says:

    We just moved to Portlnd, OR, and so I plan to cycle into the totality swath the morning of. Driving a car would likely be unsuccessful. Portland is completely booked for the eclipse.

  4. SB says:

    And those experiencing it in an extended flat terrain look carefully for Shadow bands

  5. Chris Kennedy says:

    While you are there, if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes – run like hell.

  6. Bill_K says:

    Darkened glasses are essential during the partial phases of the eclipse, but during totality, when the sun is completely covered, it’s safe and desirable to take them off. If you do, the only precaution is to know in advance how long totality will last at your viewing site, so you can put the glasses back on in time!

  7. KWH says:

    I commend http://mreclipse.com to your readers, and in particular http://mreclipse.com/Totality3/TotalityCh11.html. My wife and I, who will be in Wyoming, at Glendo State Park on the morning of the eclipse, will use Shade 14 filter plates in flip-up welding goggles. Glendo is a good place to be on eclipse Monday. It’s exactly on the centerline of the eclipse path and immediately next to I-25 well south of Casper. The “ticket booth” ($6) opens at 4:30 a.m. I’ll be wearing or right next to a large, bright red Osprey climbing pack.

  8. neil says:

    Peter

    Be ready for huge crowds around Jackson Hole on eclipse day. Prime territory. I will be in a remote area of eastern Oregon and still expecting crowds.

    In Idaho, Craters of the Moon NM and Hells Canyon NRA are worth visiting.

    Have fun and happy viewing.

  9. Koenraad Van Spaendonck says:

    Great initiative. The trip has a goal, but the goal is the trip !

  10. Eddie Dealtry says:

    Absolutely concur with the second bullet point: don’t spend all the time with equipment. Spent most of the 7-minute eclipse (not far short of theoretical max) in 1973 faffing with cameras. Won’t do that again.

  11. David says:

    Thanks for the advice to not worry about trying to photograph it. My wife, son, and I were in Oregon and I just set the camera to record us as we watched. The result was probably the most memorable video that I’ve ever made, even though the eclipse itself is never seen.

  12. Jeff Moreland says:

    Had a great view in Aurora, Nebraska, hope you had clear skies.

  13. Jerome Moore says:

    Saw it with my kid near Columbia, Missouri. Good weather and really spectacular. There were special events hosted by the university.

    @Bill_K: I was worried about that but it turns out not to be ambiguous at all. You see the flash when the sun starts to emerge, you know its time to put the eclipse shades back on.

  14. Bugannoyer says:

    I was in Madras, OR at “SolarFest”, camping in the “SolarTown” tenting sites. What an amazing experience! The crowd’s energy was exhilarating!

    Was slightly hazy/high cirrus clouds, but this turned out not to matter much for seeing the corona and flares. We had an Orion AstroView 120mm F5 scope with an 82 deg 44x lens that captured almost all the corona, plus 70mm 15x binocs on a tripod, and some handheld binocs (all with solar filters).

    Saw Bailey’s Beads as totality exited, and pulled eyes away from the lens of the Astro View, slapped the solar filter back on the scope. One thing that was striking was how well the eye captured the solar flares (a lot of detail), compared to the best photos I’ve seen online. My guess is this is attributable to the eye having the separate cone receptor types, so that the red in the flares was probably selectively perceived/enhanced by the visual system. I’d be interested if anyone could say more about that.

  15. filtz says:

    Bugannoyer,

    It is safe to view totality with binoculars or telescope with proper solar filter?

    “how well the eye captured the solar flares” – Are you talking about naked eye, or eye + telescope/binoculars?

    Where did you get your Orion AstroView and binoculars? Would you recommend that telescope as a first telescope for an adult astronomy enthusiast?

    Any good resources for photographing/viewing solar eclipse? What solar filter did you use? Thank you for your post!

  16. Bugannoyer says:

    Filtz, telescopic product comment is probably OT, and so I’ll be brief on that, and we should not be surprised if our moderator deletes. But in that regard, I can recommend the Orion AstroView 120st as a good value/quality-to-price, medium-range scope, which can be upgraded to a 2″ focuser and eyepieces (I’m just using the scope as equipped, with 1.25″ lenses). One caveat is the mount (German Equatorial) is heavy, so only suitable for *car* camping. I bought online.

    The 70mm binocs are Celestron, and also very good value/quality-to-price, although in this case my price was $0. They were a prize my daugher won at an Oregon Star Party a few years ago.

    At totality you view without solar filters or glasses. The brief Bailey’s Beads / Flash / Diamond Ring I saw through the AstroView at 3rd contact (without filter) was probably not dangerous because of how quickly I pulled my eye away from the lens.

    The solar filters I used (when *not* at totality) I made myself from Baader Solar Film, again ordered online. You can find instructions for how to construct solar filters using this or other certified films online.

    I am not an astrophotographer myself, but I’d recommend Sky and Telescope as a good place to start; there are a ton of online resources as well.

  17. John says:

    We drove with one of the grandkids from Las Vegas to Mackay, Idaho to see the eclipse. Two minutes and 13 seconds of totality. It was amazing. Indescribable. Words and pictures don’t do it justice. You really have to experience a total eclipse to understand.

  18. Nick M. says:

    Peter,

    In addition to the 8th of April 2024 *total* solar eclipse, there will be an *annular* solar eclipse on the 14th of October 2023.

    For 2023 see Solar Eclipse 2023,
    and for 2024 see Solar Eclipse 2024.

    This would be a great opportunity to witness the two types of solar eclipses that the sun and moon can put together, just one half year apart from each other, on the North American continent.

  19. Tom Dickens says:

    We traveled to Greenville, SC, met some family members, and had 2 min 6 sec of totality. Beautiful sight, first total eclipse we have seen.

    I took pictures using an EOS 80D with 300 mm lens with Thousand Oaks filter during partial phase. Should have taken advice not to try in totality, because I missed about half of it when I kept taking pictures, and got confused by the enormity of the event! I did get a couple of decent ones..

    Next time I will just watch.

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