(Continued from Part 6)
So, the morning of the 21st, we started getting stuff set up. There was to be less than 20% cloud cover, a light breeze, and overall a good day for the Eclipse. The cloud cover was in the form of mostly light cumulus clouds that were sliding from the south-south-west, but had big chunks of blue sky between them.
We had brought a small 90mm refracting telescope that I fabricated a projection screen onto. Using the 90 degree prism diagonal adapter, the image of the sun was easily visible on the small screen. I had tested it in Buffalo on both the sun and the moon, so I was sure it would work well for all the lighting conditions of the eclipse, without a sun filter. Well ahead of time, I took this out to the cleared space just south of our site and set it up.
I was really happily surprised that the screen worked as well as it did, as we were able to make out sunspots before the eclipse was even near approaching. I was able to leave the image up for a couple of minutes before the sun would track off and I’d have to readjust the telescope so the image would be visible, but that was no problem (except for a couple of times when a big cloud went over).
Slowly, over the course of an hour, accompanied by drinks and popcorn, we watched the sun slowly disappearing as the moon slid in front of it. Mostly we watched on the projection screen, but occasionally we’d sneak short looks with the solar glasses, to see it in as unaided a manner as we could.
Even when the light clouds passed over, we were still able to see the progress, though the dense clouds were just too much.
Slowly, but steadily, we watched the moon make it’s way across the sun’s face, and were able to look across the campground and watch people enter the park for the viewing they had set up at the visitor center/museum. There were some people congregating at a campsite farther along our loop, but otherwise, we had the campground area to ourselves. (Which is really how we like it.)
One of the things I was really surprised at was how bright it continued to be, even as the moon was covering up the sun. It wasn’t until the very last 5-10% of the sun was getting covered that it made very much of a difference.
But finally, the moment was upon us. The ‘crescent sun’ kept getting smaller and smaller.
But there was still plenty of light for reading, even if it wasn’t full-strength sun.
But as the last little bits of sun were covered up, it got dramatically darker.
I had also turned the bus’ dashcam on. Here’s the video of the eclipse from the bus’ point of view (sped up to double-speed).
We did try to get a picture of the sun being eclipsed, but due to the humidity in the air, it wasn’t as dramatic as we’d hoped – the light was getting refracted back into the darkened area. As such, instead of a nice dark area in sky, like we saw with our eyes, the camera picked up a dully glowing donut of sorts.
And then, the sun, slowly came back. We had one diamond show up on the projection screen, but it was gone too fast to get a picture. And then it was like we were back to just standing in the sun, much as we had been waiting for the eclipse.
And slowly the sun came back and it was just like every afternoon we’d had up to that point. But it was an amazing thing to witness, and surprising as to how long it actually took for the eclipse to be noticeable, and how quickly it returned to normal (at least to our unaided eyes).
(More of the trip in Part 8)