A solar eclipse journey

Day 1

Saturday, I started the long journey to a total eclipse site. The trip took us through three states: New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming. I have never seen a total eclipse. I didn’t know what to expect, but I know it has captured the imagination of people from all walks of life.

We drove through gorgeous northern New Mexico first. I was amazed by the lush green fields ringed with deep blue mountain peaks. Phenomenal rain and lightning in the mountains. The whole of it looked like a Tony Abeyta canvas.

Day 2

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My final destination, Glendo, Wyoming. Wide open spaces. No houses. Clear sky. Light traffic.

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Entering Glendo, we saw this on the side of a building. The excitement for the eclipse was like no other. The town has a population of 205, but this week, it was full of famous scientists and the curious.

Now it was time to set up our tent.

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Following that, I took a boat ride on Glendo Reservoir. It was breathtaking.

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A number of solar scientists were at the campground,

such as Thomas Rimmele, project director of
DKIST, Kevin Reardon of the National Solar Observatory (NSO), Stephen Kiel,
past director of NSO, and George Simon, former astronaut and solar expert. They
gave outreach talks around Glendo.

We had barbecue provided by the Diehl family, and talked about the sun. Jackie Diehl formerly worked for NSO and helped the town of Glendo prepare for the great
influx of visitors.

When the sun set, we talked about the stars.

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Day 3

The most awaited day! Our camp woke up early. Not too cold. Sun popped over the lake at 7 a.m. Cloudless sky.

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The airport grass landing strip was filled with people emerging from their campers. A helicopter photographed the activity on the ground.

I hiked to various field sites around the
campground to see and talk with professional and amateur astronomers setting up
equipment for solar viewing. Some of it was elaborate, such as the setup in
this photo, where a telescope and antennae operated in tandem with balloon
observations. Shown here is Ric Alling of Arizona State University, which was collaborating with
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. 

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We started really early observing sun spots

through an NSO telescope funded by NSF and
maneuvered expertly by Kevin Reardon.

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At the State Park campground with Germans, Italians, Americans. And lots of solar astronomers. When the eclipse started, around 10:30 a.m., excitement was rampant.

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Ready to observe one of nature’s most impressive spectacles with my NSF-funded National Solar Observatory eclipse glasses.

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Here,
we used a colander to project sunlight on white paper. The shadow of the moon
showed through each pinpoint – the eclipse. 

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And here is my photo of the partial eclipse, taken with my cell phone and a telescope.

It was eerie going into totality. Lots of gasps during the event.

Very excited to see a brilliant ‘diamond ring’
and the gigantic streamers of the corona. I hadn’t imagined how far they would
extend.

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We ended the day, stuck in a massive traffic jam. Completely stopped.

Meanwhile in Arlington, Virginia, NSF staff gathered outside our headquarters

to contemplate nature’s spectacle. It was very inspirational.

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