Posted by: bkivey | 4 September 2017

Eclipse

Earlier this year I’d blocked off 21 August for the total solar eclipse. I figured no one else would be working, so why not take advantage? Regardless of the hyperbole, I was going to make sure I saw what is arguably Nature’s premier event in my own backyard.

Work ran late Sunday so I didn’t leave home for the 60 mile drive to Salem until later than I wanted. A place to stay fell through but I’d planned for that so after dinner I camped in the back of the wagon.

Monday was a picture-perfect Summer day in western Oregon. Not a cloud to be seen and clear skies. People had remarked how fortunate we were to have the chance to view the eclipse during the time of year when we had a chance of seeing it. The last time a total solar eclipse was visible in these parts happened in February 1979. Not a lot of open sky in February.

 

Totality occurred at 1017 local. The images above were taken (clockwise from left) at 1000, 1005, and 1010. There may not seem to be any difference, but as the Moon covered the Sun, the quality of light changed, as if looking through polarized glasses. I noticed the Sun dapples through the leaves showed the occultation:

21 August 2017 crescent shadows

The last three minutes before totality the light dimmed very much as if someone was turning down a dimmer switch. It was quite amazing. And it wasn’t linear; more of the natural log curve prevalent in Nature.

21 Aug 2017 1017 Totality

At totality. It’s dark. Not night-time dark, but certainly late dusk in the late morning. Lots of cheering and clapping around. Also fireworks. I first thought this to be an American affectation, then remembered the Chinese method of scaring off the dragon.

I’ve seen a partial solar and several total lunar eclipses, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I was surprised at how large the disk appeared: a blue-white ring of fire in the sky. The detail and motion visible in the corona was unexpected and fascinating. And two-and-a-half short minutes later, it was over. My first thought was ” I want to see another one!”. I stuck around long enough to see if the impromptu tree leaf filters would show the retreating Moon:

21 August 2017 crescent shadows 2

The fireworks were effective: the dragon retreated.

That  . . . that was . . . amazing.

I’d planned my escape from Salem on back roads. I’m a local. Hwy 22 West to 221 North. 221 runs up the west side of the Yamhill river valley between the Coast Range and the Chehelem Mountains; and one of the more scenic drives Oregon offers.  At the end of the valley the road climbs up the hills to about 1100 feet then a drive down the ridgeback with the Willamette valley in view to the East  along with the Cascades and volcanoes. I figured if I was going to see a total solar eclipse I may as well go all in on appreciation of God’s creation.

The roads were pretty clear until a spot in the valley where several state roads converge. An hour to get through that three miles (I’m not the only local), but only a couple of hours to get home. I noticed that many people just pulled off the road into one of the many fields available to watch the spectacle.

Worth it? Totally.

 

 

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