My Eclipse Podcasts
In the past week I have been interviewed on two local radio programs, Suncoast Speaks with Chuch Englund and Health Check with Heidi Godman. Here are the podcasts. Have a listen.
I just finished recording an interview about the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse for a radio program called Suncoast Speaks hosted by Chuck Englund. It will air on Sarasota radio station, WLSS, AM 930, this Saturday, August 20, from 7:30 to 8:00 AM (11:30-12:00 UT) and re-aired Sunday, August 21, 1:30 – 2:00 PM. You can stream it at those times at buy cheap accutane uk After that it will be posted as a podcast. Please share this.
And remember, Go See The Eclipse and Take a Kid With You.
While I was at the Grand Canyon Star Party this June is it safe to order accutane online, they announced that the park had received provisional status as an International Dark Sky Park. This is a BIG deal! Why, you ask? Because the Grand Canyon is such a big park! Every single light fixture in the park had to be located and documented to see if it met the International Dark Sky Association’s rigorous standards. It took a couple years, but they did it. Over 5,000 fixtures were cataloged, 2,000 of which are compliant with the IDSA’s requirements. That means that 3,000 are not and will have to be changed out/upgraded. They have 3 years to accomplish this.
During the week long star party CBS came and videoed for a segment they would broadcast on their morning show. That segmented was preempted twice this summer by breaking news but was finally aired today, Thursday, August 12. Here is the segment. (I was there during the filming but am not in the aired segment.)
While at Crater Lake National Park, the moon was just past full. Since we were there so near the solstice, sunset was late and dusk lasted forever. (Actually, slightly less than forever.) Our last night there, the moon rose at 11:38 PM and dusk ended at 10:30, so there was about an hour window of dark skies. It was clear that evening, so we drove up to Watchman Point on the rim of the lake and I took a several photos of the sky, including this one of the Milky Way. It is a 25 second exposure with little post processing. The lights at the bottom of the frame are from the rim village, hotel and traffic around it.
We left Columbia (after getting our Krispy Kreme doughnut fix) and headed south. We stopped at the Orangeburg visitor center and talked about the eclipse, giving them some information that was new to them for planning events around the eclipse.
We then aimed for Charleston and headed for the Convention and Visitor Center. The people there had heard of the eclipse and, in fact, told me that I was not the first person to stop by and tell them about it. They also showed me an email from eclipse2017.org with information about the eclipse. (We eclipse promoters are getting the word out.)
They have not decided what they will do for the eclipse but I tried to let them know that this is an event that people will travel to see and that Charleston is an easy drive from many cities not in the path of totality. It was a great visit and I think they now have a better sense of the significance of the eclipse.
We then toured the city a bit and decided that this was a place we would like to revisit. Here are some pictures that show why.
We then headed northeast along the coast headed for the location where the center line of the eclipse leaves the USA. Unlike Oregon, it is not possible to drive to the exact location because it is a barrier island right off the Carolina coast. You would need a boat to get to there. Someone may want to do that. We did not.
We did, however, find Buck Hall Recreation Area close to the point of departure. I describe it in this video clip. FYI: this recreational area also has a small campground.
This day was hot and humid, as is typical of the low country this time of year. But it was clear!
With that we have come to the end of this venture. But this is the beginning of another. We have less than 13 months to get ready for the eclipse. I plan on continuing to help people get good information about this eclipse. Thank you for following us as we made the journey from coast to coast following the path of totality. Stay tuned for more in the coming months as we get closer to totality.
When we left Northern Georgia, we did not leave the mountains. South Carolina is largely Piedmont and coastal plain. However, there is a small but beautiful, hilly part, known as the upstate.
The view of Table Rock Mountain and the park lake, taken beside the lodge.
We camped two nights at Table Rock State Park and enjoyed it very much. I spoke to a few rangers and not one had heard of the eclipse. They were glad for the information I gave them about it. I stopped at a couple motels and they had not heard about it, either. This was the weekend so many places, we would have visited, were closed.
Monday, July 25, we packed up and headed for the Fort Mill, SC area. We camped at a county park, Ebenezer Park in York County on Wylie Lake. Fort Mill is outside the path and I wanted to let them know that the 98% eclipse they would get there would not be enough. That they need to plan on going the 30 or 40 miles to get in to the path of totality. With 13 months to go before the event, they have time to plan. Charlotte, North Carolina is a major metropolitan area that is outside the path but near enough that a LOT of people could decide to make the trek to get inside the path. Both Greenville and Columbia, South Carolina are accessible via Interstate highway. I met with a couple of schools, explaining the nature of the eclipse and the importance of getting good information to the students and families so they have the opportunity to experience it.
We drove to Columbia and met a member of the Visitor Bureau who is on a newly formed committee charged with developing a program for Columbia to advertise to areas outside the path. They want to make it big! They welcomed the information I provided them and I left them genuinely excited about it. Here is a video I took at the state capital.
It should be self evident that the eclipse is a weather dependent event. While it is true that you will experience the eclipse regardless of the weather at the time of the eclipse, you will not see the eclipse if there are clouds in the way obscuring it. Astronomers typically look for the place(s) on the path of totality that have the highest likelihood of clear skies on eclipse day and time.
If you look at the accompanying map of average cloud cover for the past 20 years along the path and on the day of the eclipse, there are some obvious statements you can make. There is no place that has less than 20% cloud coverage. Oregon has a few areas that have less than 40% cloud cover and one area less than 30%. Idaho and Wyoming are spotty and depend on the elevation and its effect on clouds but Wyoming has a slight edge. A wide swath of the Great Plains and Midwest has less than 40% cloud cover. But once you reach the Smoky Mountains and continue east, the chance of clouds increases. For that reason, most astronomers are looking to head west to see the eclipse, in hopes of clear or clearer skies. But the east coast should not lose hope. There are clouds and then there are clouds. So even if the sky is 50 to 70% covered in clouds, that means 30 to 50% of the sky is clear. Furthermore the sun will be at least 60o above the horizon, making it less susceptible to most clouds that hang closer to the horizon.
I say all that because most astronomers have written off the Great Smoky Mountains and the Carolinas because of maps like this. Well, the people who live in those locations are every bit as excited about the total eclipse coming to their home area as anyone out west. Case in fact, northern Georgia. There is a small percentage of Georgia that is in the path of totality and these folks want to make the most it. The center line of totality passes through one county, Rabun, the northeast-most county. But Stephens, Towne, and Union counties (and a few others) are completely in the path and have 2 minutes or more of totality. As part of that, the highest point in the state, Brasstown Bald, is in the path with totality lasting 2 minutes 12 seconds. I must admit, viewing the eclipse from the top of a mountain with a clear, 360o line of site, has a certain ‘cool’ factor. I was in a meeting with seven others who are in the planning stages for an event at Brasstown Bald. This could be a real sweet event. Also, Rabun County is planning a three day event for the eclipse. Stephens County is just starting to address the issue.
If you live in the Atlanta area, the Georgia mountains could be the place for you. Give it a look.
As described in my previous post, buy accutane europe, Southern Illinois is the location of the Greatest Duration for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. Look at the map of the path of the eclipse across the USA. There are two markers or flags; the purple one labeled GD (greatest duration) and the green, GE (greatest eclipse). The two are close together but are NOT the same point.
Consider the flag labeled GD, greatest duration. That is pretty easy to understand. Start and stop a timer at lots of different places along the path of the eclipse and the point where the eclipse is longest is the point of Greatest Duration. Nice and straight forward. Now consider the flag marked GE, greatest eclipse. That is an astronomical term and a little more difficult to understand, but I will try. The shadow of the moon is shaped like a cone. Every cone has a center line called an axis, the moon’s shadow is no exception. The earth has an axis of rotation that passes through the earth from north pole to south pole. As the moon’s shadow crosses the earth during a total solar eclipse, there is one point and only one point where it crosses the axis of the earth. That point is defined as the point of greatest eclipse. ASIDE OVER.
It turns out that it is easier to calculate the point of greatest eclipse than the greatest duration. Before computers, that was important. But with computers, finding the point of greatest duration is easy. So, the two flags are shown on eclipse maps.
But what is the answer to the question posed at the top: southern Illinois or western Kentucky? The answer is neither. The plain truth is that the best place to be for the total solar eclipse is any place in the path where the skies are clear during totality. What that means is, check the weather frequently in the days leading up to the eclipse. Have a plan B in case it is going to be cloudy where you are and clear, say, 50 miles east or west. More on that in a later post.
After we left Ferne Clyffe State Park, we headed southeast, following the path of totality. We stopped at a few motels along the way and most of them had not heard of next year’s eclipse. (They were very glad for the information I then gave them.) When we got to Princeton, Kentucky, I figured that would change. At the Chamber of Commerce I started by asking, “Tell me everything you know about next year’s eclipse.” The executive director, Shea Hughes, said, “Too much.” It turns out that the point of Greatest Eclipse is between Princeton and Hopkinsville (the larger town of the two) and they have been getting calls about the eclipse for years.
Princeton is planning several events leading up to the eclipse, with the biggest east of town on a field that is a mere 2.07 miles from the point of greatest eclipse. The 3 day event is called buy accutane online forumand promises to be free. It may be worth looking into if you are considering Kentucky for viewing the eclipse.
Please start planning your eclipse viewing trip soon. You will not be sorry.
Our trip out of Missouri was delayed while we addressed an issue with our camper. The door lock mechanism broke and the latch would not spring into place, so we could not lock our camper. Never a good idea. Fortunately, we found a place 25 miles from the campground that had the part and we installed it and were on our way by 10 AM. We crossed into Illinois and our road followed the Mississippi River for several miles. Pretty, rolling country. And green. Very green. Don’t see much of that in Wyoming and many places out west. But I digress.
We stopped at a few motels along the way that are in the path of next year’s total solar eclipse, but none of the front desk people or managers had heard of it. (I made sure they knew about it and had the particulars for their location. They were grateful for the information.) That is until we got near Carbondale, IL. All of a sudden most people had heard of it. We are pretty sure we know why. There is awhere can i buy generic accutane devoted to eclipses and it has all the maps for every eclipse for millennia. Every map has one place flagged on it – the point of greatest duration. For this eclipse, that flag is near Carbondale. There is also a major university, Southern Illinois University, home of the Salukis, and they are playing a major role in promoting the eclipse.
We pulled into the campground at Ferne Clyffe State Park, and after setting the camper up, we looked at the buy generic accutane online a little more closely. We zoomed in to the flag marked ‘greatest duration’ and found to our surprise, a vineyard. Well, we just had to investigate. The way to this Vineyard is by county roads. (meaning, watch for potholes.) When we reached the Blue Sky Vineyard, the entrance gateway was very inviting. We located the owner and spoke to him for an hour or so. He is very excited about this eclipse and is making plans for a real celebration. NASA has been in touch with the vineyard and gave them the exact location on their property of the greatest duration.
We headed back to our campsite exhilarated from our time at Blue Sky. It was refreshing to see so many people eclipse aware.
BTW, we received no compensation for this endorsement. This vineyard was flagged by NASA.
TECHNICAL ASIDE: There are a variety of factors that make the exact location of the point of greatest duration uncertain, including, the variation in the lunar limb (the moon is not smooth but covered with mountains, valleys and other irregularities,) The fact that the orbital speeds of the moon and the earth are not constant but changing due to the elliptical shape of their orbits, the fact that neither the earth nor the moon is a perfect sphere, etc. In many settings we can ignore these considerations since their impact is small, but not when dealing with the precision desired here. That being said, the exact location of maximum duration of this eclipse may not ever be known. However, keep this in mind, the area in which the duration is within .1 second of the maximum stretches over 160 miles along the length of the center line. ASIDE OVER> Back to our regular blogging.
The next morning we went for a hike to an intermittent waterfall in the park where we are camped, Ferne Clyffe State Park. What a delightful park. Watch this video for a hint of how neat a natural area this is. Prior to this trip, I had never heard of this park and had no idea of the varied topography and geology of southern Illinois. This is worth coming back to.
From Ferne Clyffe State Park we visited another state park I had heard about, Giant City. One notable feature of this state park is its lodge, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The duration of totality here for the August 21, 2017 eclipse is within .1 sec of the Greatest Duration. There are cabins that can be rented.
There are not very many open areas here for eclipse viewing, but there was one area near the lodge that looked promising. A water tower, unusual in design, is near a parking lot that may provide decent vantage points for eclipse viewing. Regardless, it certainly would make for a memorable stay during eclipse weekend.