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Brian Vogel
Grand Master
Username: guyslp

Post Number: 2384
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Tuesday, 22 August, 2017 - 13:20:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

If you ever have the chance to get yourself into the path of totality for a solar eclipse I really recommend you make the effort to do so. I'm on my way home from having done so at the Tellico Marina in Tennessee. It is very hard to describe just how little difference there is in light levels between no eclipse at all and well above 90%. I can understand how you'd have no idea that an eclipse was in progress if you weren't paying attention but when totality hits "the world's biggest light" goes out like someone hit a switch.

Looking at what appears to be a huge black hole with a glowing silver halo really cannot be described.

Now I'm looking forward to the next one in North America in 2024, which I'll probably also be able to view in totality.

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John Kilkenny
Prolific User
Username: john_kilkenny

Post Number: 271
Registered: 6-2005
Posted on Tuesday, 22 August, 2017 - 21:30:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Disregarding the obvious geometry,it has always intrigued me that the moon 250 thousand miles away looks precisely the same size as the sun 93 million miles away.
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Mark Luft
Frequent User
Username: bentleyman1993

Post Number: 96
Registered: 10-2016
Posted on Wednesday, 23 August, 2017 - 01:47:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Brian, here in Bedford, VA. we had 91% and I must say you are correct. While the brightness outside dimmed a little, at 9% old Sol still puts out a lot of light.
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Geoff Wootton
Grand Master
Username: dounraey

Post Number: 1754
Registered: 5-2012
Posted on Wednesday, 23 August, 2017 - 01:58:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP


You have just destroyed a very nice line I had going of cognitive dissonance. I really toyed with the idea of making the 300 mile trip to get into the zone of totality but convinced myself the traffic would be so great I would not get near. This happened to me before when I tried to drive from Tampa to Titusville to watch a Shuttle Launch. The traffic was so great I ended up 20 miles short and had to view it from the side of the I90. Still spectacular, but I wanted to feel the ground shake.

So help me here - the eclipse was over-hyped and not worth seeing anyway - right

You are absolutely right about a 90% partial eclipse. From here in Tulsa it was barely noticeable, in terms of reduced light levels.

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Brian Vogel
Grand Master
Username: guyslp

Post Number: 2385
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Wednesday, 23 August, 2017 - 08:06:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP


The traffic "going to" was minimal, a bit thicker than usual here and there, but nothing much. I attribute that to people slowly pouring into the general viewing areas from Friday through Monday.

The traffic "coming from" was horrendous, and from what I hear some of the aftereffects have lasted through to today.

I am zombie-like at the moment, having just arrived home. Jim & I decided very early on, probably less than an hour into the trip back home that we were bailing from the interstates an "taking the back roads" home. Best decision we ever made. The drive was absolutely stunning and I'd never been in the mountains of northeastern Tennessee nor had I driven through deep southwestern Virginia, either. We stopped overnight in "the middle of nowhere," Norton, VA, just a tiny bit north of Big Stone Gap, last night and finished the trip from there to Staunton today.

The trip was eventful in other ways as well. About half way there on Sunday afternoon I experienced something I hope to never experience again: the instantaneous disintegration of my serpentine belt while cruising down the interstate. I thought for sure the trip was over since this occurred at 2:30 PM on a Sunday afternoon near Christiansburg, VA, but two small miracles occurred: I had a tow truck in around 30 minutes and there was a 7-day-a-week shop open who was able to take me and get the part before the car even arrived since I knew exactly what happened. I still don't know why and I'm going to check with my mechanic because I believe he put a new one on when I had my alternator replaced in February, but am not 100% certain. The fact that I was back on the road in under 2.5 hours still boggles my mind! Both the towing company and the mechanics have 5-star ratings on their Google business pages from me.

And, in an attempt to make you feel better: Oh, yes, a total solar eclipse is to the sun like the Grand Canyon is to a hole in the ground. Nothing much to look at, just bigger.

Brian, who will remember the big hole in the ground and big hole in the sky for quite a while
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Christian S. Hansen
Grand Master
Username: enquiring_mind

Post Number: 612
Registered: 4-2015
Posted on Wednesday, 23 August, 2017 - 14:18:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

From what Brian says, and my own experience on Monday, I would say that anything less than 100% coverage is overhyped and a waste of time. On one of my trips whilst moving from San Francisco to Montana, I was aware that the 100% path crossed the part of Idaho where I would coincidentally be travelling Monday morning but thought nothing more about the opportunity until late Sunday evening prior to stopping at a truck stop for the evening. I typically stop at Idaho Falls, ID but was tired and stopped about 50 miles directly south. When I got up Monday morning about 10AM, another traveler asked me if I would like to see the eclipse thru his "viewer" and that is when it dawned on me what was happening. It was in an area that had about 97% coverage, which thru the viewer left but a tiny sliver. The impact on "daylight" was minimal and had I not been told, would not have even noticed. Even 3% of the sun is still a LOT of light! The lighting intensity was about like before dusk or after dawn, and the only "oddity" was that while at dusk and dawn the sun is low on the horizon, during the "eclipse" it was high in the sky. The effect was minimally interesting but not spectacular or even notable enough to "terrify" the primitives.
Accordingly, if you cannot get to a 100% area, don't even bother. On one hand I regret not pushing the extra distance to Idaho Falls, which was by serendipity a 100% area, but then I would likely have been put off by the masses of spectators already there. As Brian experienced, the freeways away from the 100% area during the hours after the "event" were bumper-to-bumper for over 100 miles. Fortunately I was going northbound "towards" the 100% area and most of the spectators for whatever reason were going south away from it and so the traffic for me was minimal. Once I saw the masses of vehicles mile after mile and understood the implications, I was concerned that upon arriving "after-the-fact" in Idaho Falls that the gasoline supplies would be depleted and that further progress northward to Montana would be interdicted, but such did not materialize.

Bottom line is that the difference between 0% coverage and 97% coverage is minimal, but apparently once that final 3% is eliminated, it does actually get dark. Is this correct Brian? Did it REALLY get as dark as night (perhaps with full moon?) or did the corona still give sufficient diffused lighting to only create a "dimming" effect? I'm sure that someone has posted a U-Tube video, not of the corona, but of the degree of ambient darkening. Maybe I will see what's there.
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Patrick Ryan
Grand Master
Username: patrick_r

Post Number: 1660
Registered: 4-2016
Posted on Wednesday, 23 August, 2017 - 18:12:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Thank you so much for an entertaining read.

I was transported directly into each of your situations while reading.
Very well written.

Maybe I will make it over in 2024 Brian.
That would be great.
And I will bring a new serpentine belt with me as well, it will be due again by then Brian

Thanks guys.
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Brian Vogel
Grand Master
Username: guyslp

Post Number: 2386
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Thursday, 24 August, 2017 - 02:47:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

It does not get "dark as night," or at least it didn't where I was nor was it anywhere that I've seen pictures from. I imagine some of that has to do with exactly where you are.

If you look at this photo gallery from the Washington Post, the photo taken with a fish-eye lens that's #21 of 52 taken in the Grand Tetons shows it most accurately, particularly as far as the horizons go. It's not quite as bright looking as that picture appears directly overhead. While it is quite dark overhead the corona is so silver-white that it is nowhere near to pitch black. What's eerie is that all horizons look like sunset during the period of totality with equal intensity (or lack thereof) rather than "much darker in the east an much lighter in the west" as is your typical sunset.

Another thing that's really weird, and I am convinced it was not my imagination, was the difference in the quality of light as the eclipse was waxing versus when it was waning. During the waxing period the light was typical "sunlight golden-white" that got more and more yellow as the eclipse progressed until it got noticeably darker during perhaps the last 3% of the waxing period, if that, then went into totality. Coming out the light effect is far, far whiter or blue-whiter than going in. The best way I can describe the difference is that going in you had what looked like the light from a soft white light bulb, in the 3000K range, while coming out you instantly got something that looked like a full spectrum bulb, in the 5000K color temperature range or above.

Regardless of what's posted either in stills or videos I can assure anyone that it cannot capture the experience in any meaningful way, simply because the experience itself seems to envelop the whole world for the anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 minutes you're in totality.

I can understand entirely why this experience would have terrified anyone who did not actually know what was causing it. To go from the bright midday sun overhead to a sudden "black hole with silver halo" and drastic decrease in ambient light and also ambient temperature (it did drop over 10 degrees, also within a few moments) would make someone think that "the end is near" prior to the era of scientific knowledge of the celestial bodies and how they interact with each other.