Thursday, June 10, 2021

watched the partial occultation (Bradford)

3:00 AM. Woke with the motorola alarm. Suited up, grabbed items on the stairwell, and headed out.

Tried the entrance from Noble Drive but the gate to the water tower was closed (and presumably locked). Headed to the school—St Teresa Of Calcutta Catholic—and parked near the jungle gym.

Ugh. Four (no five) trips up the steep grade of the reservoir. Don't have a heart attack, don't have a heart attack, don't have a heart attack. I was warm at the end of it all but the breeze was refreshing. A slog.

Rested for a moment. 

Then began the assembly. Priority: the big telescope.

Put the make-shift windsock over the recorder microphone.

4:28. Set up the DSLR camera. Took test shots for focus and framing. Had the kit lens set to manual mode. Used a distant red blinkie light to get the focus.

4:38. Birds a'chirping. Started the Sony audio recorder. Oh oh, the battery level was low. 

The ETX-90 was on the large metal tripod—on Jupiter. The C8 with supercharged Vixen SP mount powered with the SLA marine battery—on Saturn. Filters and other solar paraphernalia ready to go. Low cloud on the horizon, up to about 5 degrees. Hopefully that would not interfere significantly. Actually maybe it would make the view pretty dramatic.

All four moons were Jupiter visible.

Snapped a shot of the setup.

big 'scope, little 'scope, camera

motorola e6, f/2.0, 1/15th second, ISO 2344, auto-flash, minor adjustments in DPP.

4:43. Put new AAA batteries in the recorder. Left it late and couldn't find the black-yellow rechargeables... Fortunately I had a some alkalines in astronomy case α (alpha) primus. Whew. Double-checked the time on the smartphone.

4:45. Colourful sky. Thick cloud bank...

colourful sky to the north-east

Canon 40D, 18-55 kit lens at 55, manually focused, f/5.6, ½ second, ISO 400, daylight, RAW, minor adjustments in DPP.

4:49. Looked again at the ringed planet. I had noted this before. Faint moon, about 1.5 planet-widths distant, toward the 2 o'clock position. Two bright moons (or stars?) formed an equilateral triangle. Three to four ring-widths away. 9 and 7 positions. Very nice view. It's gonna be good this summer!

[ed: From SkyTools 4 Visual Pro, Tethys and Rhea were both at the 2 o'clock (east), very close together; Titan was at the 7 (west), and star HD 200183 was at 9.]

Also snapped the scene with the smartphone.

the water tower

motorola e6, f/2.0, 1/15th second, ISO 1456, minor adjustments in DPP.

4:53. Listened to the animals and birds. Heard the town waking up...

The sky was turning a lovely orange-red. Put the jacket back on. 

They were clearly working on the water tower. Lots of vehicles, temp. structures. Safety fence.

I wondered about street location to the west—Mills Court. Looked like less elevation changes. But it felt less secure. Too bad the wagon has a flat tire... need to fix that.

Breezey. No dew. Removed the lens cap from the camera to reduce shake.

5:02. Here they come! The mozzies found me. Put on bug repellent.

GO train arrived in town. The 522.

Hints of a pillar.

faint Sun pillar forming

Canon 40D, 18-55 kit lens at 55, manually focused, f/5.6, 1/10th second, ISO 400, daylight, RAW, minor adjustments in DPP.

Had the Oregon portable weather station on the TV table. Relative humidity was 59%, air pressure was dropping, calling for rain tomorrow, 15.9° Celsius.

In the binoculars, I saw water. Reminded me of Rhonda's remarks during the comet session last July... [ed: Bottom of Cook's Bay. Georgina is over there somewhere...]

5:09. I spotted a family walking along the path. Up early for The Eclipse Show.

Looked to the school. No sign. Texted Rhonda. 

5:15. She said she was on her way.

Some more people wandered into the park. One man asked if the clouds were going to cause a problem. I didn't think so. Weird to talk to strangers...

I manually slewed the C8 to toward the NE. It didn't like the positioning, the hand controller thought it aimed below the horizon. So I rebooted the mount and forced it into sidereal tracking mode.

Sky was turning orange.

5:20. The Sun pillar was taller now.

tall pillar

Canon 40D, 18-55 kit lens at 55, manually focused, f/5.6, 1/50th second, ISO 400, daylight, RAW, minor adjustments in DPP.

5:24. Rhonda arrived. She noted it was clear. Impressed with my setup. She asked if I had eclipse glasses. Yep, various types, and the cards. She was curious how many trips it had taken me. "You got some cardio in." Tucker was confused! Ha ha. Showed her the Lake Simcoe. Oriented her to the setup, white filter on the C8, orange filter on the ETX. There should be some sunspots visible in the big 'scope.

A women arrived the park. "Love your setup." I thanked her. Too bad I couldn't let people have a look.

Rhonda asked about the path of the eclipse, the best place in the world. Nunavut would be good.

Oh. Oh, there it is. "Look at that!" Rhonda saw it.

Very cool. Two spikes pointing upwards.

The kids saw it.

5:37. Sunrise! Two spikes. Unfortunately, the camera could cope.

two points within the sunrise

Canon 40D, 18-55 kit lens at 55, manually focused, f/5.6, 1/125th second, ISO 400, daylight, RAW, minor adjustments in DPP.

Nothing was visible in the eclipse glasses. Indeed, already heavily filtered by the atmosphere.

Rhonda asked for the spatula was for. Fun tiny Sun images. 

Rhonda asked how long the event would last. About an hour.

5:41. Oh oh. Blocked by the clouds.

hidden by the cloud bank

Canon 40D, 18-55 kit lens at 55, manually focused, f/5.6, 1/200th second, ISO 400, daylight, RAW, minor adjustments in DPP.

"That's great," Rhonda said. "Here we go."

I thought it good.

It was getting hard to look at...

5:42. Knife edge!

a spike through the clouds

Canon 40D, 18-55 kit lens at 55, manually focused, f/5.6, 1/200th second, ISO 400, daylight, RAW, minor adjustments in DPP.

In post, zoomed in to reveal the thin arc of sunlight.

detail on Sun

Cropped and sharpened in DDP.

The DSLR was overwhelmed as the Sun cleared the clouds... Kicked myself for not making a solar filter for the camera...

Rhonda called me over to the C8 with Kendrick solar filter. It was very nice with the 36mm wide field eyepiece.

Almost cleared the cloud.

She could see it in her glasses, at last.

I couldn't see any sunspots. Regardless, it was amazing.

Rhonda observed that you couldn't see anything with the unfiltered eye. It was just a blob.

Rhonda didn't see anything in the Meade. I suspected it had drifted away.

5:50. Yes! Got them with the solar eclipse card in front of the camera lens.

the Sun filtered

Canon 40D, 18-55 kit lens at 55, manually focused, f/5.6, 1/4th second, ISO 100, daylight, RAW, minor adjustments in DPP.

Rhonda suggested photos through the C8. I could. But we'd lose the nice view.

I tried aiming the ETX. Did some tricks and got it aligned! But it was very faint... the dark filter and the small aperture. And low. Rhonda couldn't see it. Her after-image spots were distracting.

Told Rhonda about Katrina's remarks from 2017. "Moon's in front of the Sun, man!"

We tried the spatula and colander. The strainer was better, a couple dozen little crescents.

I showed her my super-duper eclipse viewer thingee with welder's glass. She really liked the view! Good optical quality I guess. Rhonda offered it to the family. They enjoyed that.

I had a look at Photo Pills.

6:03. I tried an afocal smartphone shot.

Sun and Moon in the C8

motorola e6, f/2.0, 1/30th second, ISO 144, minor adjustments in DPP.

Another shot of the gear, in full sunlight now.

time to pack up all this stuff

motorola e6, f/2.0, 1/60th second, ISO 59, HDR, minor adjustments in DPP.

Rhonda asked if I had RASC stuff, for the family, interested in astronomy. I thought I might. I found some business cards in the astro case. She was doing the promo!

She said "they loved that."

Mounted up the 40D to the SCT.

Big. I wasn't expecting that. Did not think to bring the focal reducer... Another little goof-up in my planning.

6:11. The Moon was moving away. Less than 50% coverage now.

Moon, Sun, and sunspots

Canon 40D, C8, Vixen Super Polaris with GoToStar tracking, manually focused, f/10, 1/10th second, ISO 100, daylight, RAW, adjustments in DPP and Photoshop.

[ed: Two sunspot groups were visible. Near the right, AR 2829, with two spots. Didn't notice it at first but got AR 2832 with 4 spots!]

It was quiet on the hill. Everyone else had left.

6:17. Oh. Sundog! A prismatic sundog showed to the right of the Sun. I pointed it out to Rhonda. Took a moment but she saw it.

Invited her to try the view in the Meade again. It was brighter. Tricky though with the small aperture mask and the 26mm Plössl.

Rhonda offered to bring the car around to the tower base. It'd be easier to pack up. She scouted things out. 

I switched back to visual in the Celestron.

She found the gate open! Good. She moved Ruby.

6:26. Another afocal shot.

winding down

motorola e6, f/2.0, 1/200th second, ISO 50, minor adjustments in DPP.

Very difficult to identify sunspots from dirt and dust!

6:26. Spotted some spots. Opposite the Moon. Definitely there [ed: that was AR 2829]. Visible despite the bad seeing.

Started to pack up. Birds were quiet, the cars were loud, and the cops were busy.

6:31. Checked the conditions. Now: 52%, 16.4°.

Continued the teardown. C8 last...

I spotted Rhonda near the tower. "Quick, quick." She saw the sunspots. Offered the view of Fourth Contact to Rhonda. "It's a big deal. Soak it all in." She was surprised how rapidly it changed.

I thought the Sun looked like a round object with an edge sanded flat.

We quickly swapped views to the finish. 

The Moon was clear of the Sun.

6:42. The End. We did it! "Wow," she said.

Rhonda graciously hauled stuff to the car as I tore down.

The car sank under the weight off all the stuff. 

Back home. Rhonda was feeling a bit off so we had to forego the celebratory breakfast.


On the last trip, the work crew started up the big diesel generator. At last, we learned where the continuous whine sound was coming from...


Oh! Stumbled across some screen snaps captured during the event... Forgot about these!

simulated view of the occultation

From SkySafari at sunrise. Simulating the view at 5:38 AM. Made the day before, actually.

augmented reality view before sun-moon-rise

From PhotoPills in Augmented Reality mode using the camera live view. Captured at 5:12 AM the morning of.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Wow that was an amazing report. The photos are great. Thanks for getting up early and Shari g it with me.