The Great American Eclipse of 2017

August 21st, 2017

On the 14 hour drive home back to Pittsburgh, We decided to write down our impressions from yesterday's eclipse that we viewed from our cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains of Murphy, North Carolina:

At 1:05pm, with the Sun overhead in a clear blue sky, we all rushed out on the cabin deck to see to the official start of the eclipse. At first nothing was visible using the eclipse glasses and hand-held filters. Only using the solar telescope that we had setup could you see the first bite taken by the Moon. Then within another couple of minutes, it was plain to see even with the glasses. After the initial wave of excitement that the solar eclipse had started, (and that we had clear skies), nothing much was noticeable until the Moon had covered more than half of the Sun. Everyone kept taking turns observing the partial phase of the eclipse through the solar telescope and their glasses.

By 2pm, the quality of sunlight had changed, with the cabin and surrounding trees taking on a yellowed, late-afternoon look. We also noticed that the air temp had begun to drop. Within the last 10 minutes leading up to totality, the light and everything took on a brownish tint, like it would look if you were wearing sunglasses. The hot and humid temp had definitely become more comfortable, and the air was no longer calm, with an occasional light breeze being felt. (we recorded a good 11 degree drop on the outdoor mercury thermometer that we were monitoring). Under the trees along the gravel driveway, we could see tiny crescents made by the leaves acting as pinhole projectors.

In the last few minutes, with only a thin crescent of the Sun's disk remaining visible, the sky took on a deep blue color, and the forest around us began to darken with the crickets beginning to chirp. Then at the moment of totality, it was as if a giant dimmer switch was being turned down, as within seconds the last remaining bit of sunlight winked out, the sky went a dark grey, and the cabin deck that we were on was plunged into an eerily darkness.

In the place where the Sun use to be, there was now what looked like a deep-black disk encircled by a thin, bright-white diffused ring of light with tints of pink. Extending out in parallel from either side of the disk were what looked like pearly white gossamer wings! The entire object had a 3 dimensional look to it, something I've never seen in any photograph of a total solar eclipse. (The black disk was the dark side of the Moon, and the ring of light was the solar corona, the pink tint were caused by prominences extending out from the solar disk, and the gossamer wings being magnetic plumes from the solar corona).

During totality, the mountains to the southeast remained brightly illuminated, the horizon various shades of light-red, with further off in the distance white thunderclouds towering over it. Being in the forest, this was our only good view of the horizon. Amid everyone saying how crazy the sky looked, along with numerous "OMG's", a few tree frogs began to croak. But before the nightly frog chorus could really get started, a brilliant flare of light appeared on the western edge of the black disk, it was the 'Diamond Ring' effect. Within seconds the sky turned blue, the solar corona and plumes disappeared, and daylight began to return.

Totality was over!!! It had been an awesome, incredible site to see, and the fastest 2 minutes & 21 seconds ever!

Eclipse video

Murphy, North Carolina: The Great Smoky Mountains

Who knew they had scorpions in NC!!!
We found them mostly in the cabin's finished basement. The property management rep said that they only get about an inch long and their sting is non-poisonous, just feels like a bee sting. They spray for them, and all the ones we seen were dead, except for the last day, when while cleaning up the kitchen dishes, a live one was on the counter-top. (threw it out the window).

camcorder and cellphone pics

Being in the forest, we didn't have a good horizon to look for the Moon's shadows approach, and only to the south-east could we see the 'sunset' band of colors. Didn't see any signs of shadow bands either, but we didn't really have a good size white object to look for them on. Those 2+ minutes went so quickly! I had binoculars handy to look at the eclipsed sun, but completely forgot about them until after third contact. The view through the PST Ha telescope was interesting, right before second-contact, (totality), as you could visually see detached sections of the limb using it, but the detached sections weren't noticeable with the naked eye using solar glasses. That was the closest we came to seeing Bailey's Beads.

Sansung SDC435 & Fisheye CCTV lens

1:00pm 2:20pm
2:32pm 2:35pm

ZWO ASI120MC & Fisheye CCTV lens

2:25pm 2:34pm
2:34pm 2:35pm

Canon T3i and Canon EF-S 55-250mm f4 lens and a StellaCam-3 and Canon 55mm CCTV lens
on a Starwatcher Star-Adventurer DSLR mount

StellaCam-3 video capture
12:27pm 1:07pm 1:16pm 1:25pm
1:38pm 2:03pm 2:16pm 2:29pm
2:33pm 2:34pm 2:35pm 2:37pm
2:40pm 2:53pm 3:12pm 3:24pm
3:35pm 3:49pm 3:55pm 4:09pm

Totality!!!      StellaCam-3 and Canon 55mm CCTV lens

Canon T3i and Canon EF-S 250mm f4 lens (by Kyle McHenry)

Temperature readings

Our 'citizen-science' experiment with the mercury thermometer was fun! In addition to the air temp, the humidity also changed.
It started off at 36% and went up as the air temp dropped during the eclipse to a high of 46%, and then gradually went back down afterwards to the low 40's.

Hope you enjoyed the visit. Come again soon!
Larry McHenry,   Pittsburgh, PA. USA

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