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Astronomy: Adventures in Stargazing

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stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator
Posted by: @fantasia

Two weeks (and change) to go. I've been watching the moon in the evening as it's waxing. Kind of like a timer. "The next time you are a new moon will be the eclipse!"

Exactly this! Especially when it was a crescent in the early evening. After so many years, it's finally almost here!

I hope your plans, and your skies, work out, fantasia. We're going to Indiana and their Department of Transportation has issued advisories and warnings about traffic (partly because Indianapolis is getting totality, the traffic may be crazy).

Eclipses come in pairs, and tonight's full moon will experience the partner to April 8's totality. It is a very deep penumbral eclipse, so the Moon will appear somewhat shaded, but there won't be the appearance of a "bite" taken out of it.

The Americas are favored, with parts of the eclipse also visible in the Atlantic and Pacific basins. Times for the eclipse (in Universal Time; the internet can give the conversion for your location):

Eclipse begins, 0454 on March 25 (evening of March 24 in North America); mid-eclipse, 0713; eclipse ends, 0933.

The entire event is visible here in the north central US, but it's unlikely I'll see it as a snowstorm is arriving as I type this. We may get thundersnow and snowfall rates exceeding an inch an hour by tonight.

 

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Topic starter Posted : March 24, 2024 12:12 pm
Cobalt Jade
(@cobalt-jade)
NarniaWeb Nut

Won't get to see it because I live in the Pacific NW, but am excited for everyone else. We got to see an eclipse in this area a few years ago, on a gorgeous clear summer day, Very trippy experience! Wasn't quite a totality in Seattle, the sun was perhaps 5% exposed,but it still was pretty cool. I had the opportunity to go out to the coast where there would have been a totality, but I passed, because it was likely to be cloudy there. I kind of wish I had, though; it would have been the last time to see a dear friend before he passed.

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Posted : March 25, 2024 11:00 am
stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator

Sorry to hear about your friend, @cobalt-jade, but I am glad you got to see the eclipse (I suspect that was the August 2017 event, when a number of NarniaWebbers gathered to experience totality in Missouri).

The Sky & Telescope website has new and interesting eclipse articles daily now:

https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/what-will-we-see-in-the-sky-during-totality/ (Planets and stars to look for during totality, if you can tear your eyes away from the main event).

And, if you're unable to travel to the path of totality, here are things to look for during the partial eclipse that will cover most of North America:

https://skyandtelescope.org/2024-total-solar-eclipse/partial-the-solar-eclipse-for-the-rest-of-us/

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Topic starter Posted : March 27, 2024 11:12 am
fantasia
(@fantasia)
Member Admin

The weather in my part of the world is NOT looking good for the eclipse next week.... Sad  

I did read an article the other day though about how animals act really strange during eclipses, so I thought it might be kind of fun if we can't make it to the main event, to instead go to a zoo and observe the animals.

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Posted : April 1, 2024 3:14 pm
stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator

It would be interesting to see how the zoo animals respond, @fantasia. (I noted in 2017 that a rooster crowed - though in my experience they crow whenever they want to - and the cicadas made noise during totality).

Clear skies and safe travels to all our eclipse viewers!

The weather forecast remains variable but at the moment the prospects look good for southern Illinois and central Indiana (*fingers crossed*)

A friend posted a graphic from xkcd with the caption "A partial eclipse is like a cool sunset. A total eclipse is like someone broke the sky." This is an apt comparison.

I've seen articles talking about seeing 6 planets during totality. Strictly speaking there will be six planets in the sky, but seeing Mercury, Uranus, and Neptune would likely require optical aid. Venus and Jupiter should be fairly easy to spot, but my advice is to not worry too much about spotting planets, but to enjoy totality instead. But observe the surroundings too. I've seen the shadow of the moon approach, and then depart, as totality begins and ends. Animals make sounds and people usually go crazy. The temperature should drop and winds may come up. Shadows and colors look different.

There is a lot to watch in just a few minutes. Here is more advice:

https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/what-to-look-for-when-total-solar-eclipse/

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Topic starter Posted : April 4, 2024 5:39 pm
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Guru

We had about 94 percent coverage during the solar eclipse here in Michigan.  I projected the sun’s image on to white paper inside a shoebox. It worked fine and made a very nice image that was completely safe for viewing. The weather was sunny and pleasant. 🙂

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Posted : April 8, 2024 4:13 pm
starkat
(@starkat)
Member Moderator

I got to go to the path of totality. I have friends living in the area, so I got to stay rent free thankfully. My photography boss gave me leftover film to create a filter from his last solar eclipse. I put all mine together in sequence and stuck it on YouTube:

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Posted : April 9, 2024 8:21 am
Varnafinde, stargazer, johobbit and 1 people liked
Azog the Defiler
(@azog-the-defiler)
NarniaWeb Nut

Not sure if this is off-topic, but did anyone else get a headache from the eclipse? I don't remember past eclipses having that kind of effect. It was only about 70% coverage where I'm at.

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.

-Benjamin Franklin

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Posted : April 9, 2024 5:08 pm
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Guru

@azog-the-defiler 

I didn’t have a headache, but I noticed that it was a little cooler and I had to put my spring jacket on. The temperature dropped at least a few degrees. After the eclipse it was warm enough to take my jacket off again.  The sky had darkened a little (it was a little deeper blue than before) and there was some gray in it during the eclipse. 

 

 

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Posted : April 9, 2024 6:04 pm
starkat
(@starkat)
Member Moderator

No headache and no weird behavior from animals (I was at a friend's house and she has horses). It dropped about 10 degrees for about 5-10 minutes during the peak of totality and just around it. It was almost 80F so it felt nice. 

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Posted : April 9, 2024 6:31 pm
stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator

So glad you got to see totality, kat! Those are some awesome pictures, and the diamond-ring shot through the clouds is absolutely spectacular.

I traveled with Rya and her family to see totality just south of Indianapolis, really close to the center line.

I'm still consolidating my hastily-written notes and impressions into a more coherent account for my logbook, and may include excerpts here later.

I haven't ever had an eclipse headache.

The temperature dropped about 10 degrees, and it was noticeably cooler by about 15 minutes before totality started.

I was able to see shadow bands this time (shimmering wave patterns most noticeable on a white surface shortly before or after totality), after previously missing them or even forgetting to look in the excitement of totality, in previous eclipses.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Topic starter Posted : April 10, 2024 12:47 pm
starkat
(@starkat)
Member Moderator

Thanks. I was honestly surprised I got that shot. I am beyond thankful it came out. I'm seriously considering getting that one printed.

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Posted : April 10, 2024 7:09 pm
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fantasia
(@fantasia)
Member Admin

I never managed to get on here and post about last Monday. (A week ago today already!) We ended up making a Plan C due to the fact that we were in between illnesses in our house. My older two had an awful stomach bug leading up to the eclipse. Sunday night I was absolutely determined we were going to go because I felt they had recovered enough, but we weren't able to leave Sunday to drive the majority of the way to Arkansas because they had still been feverish the day before. 

Monday morning we pulled out of the driveway at 4:45am and the kids and my husband slept most of the way there. We made really good time on the way down, only hitting heavier traffic in the last hour. We ended up at a park in Clarksville AR around 10am. It was a cute little thing and I couldn't believe how few people were there. We had a few high wispy clouds, but for the most part it was clear. We had great viewing! As soon as totality ended, we jumped in the van and booked it back out of there. Even so, as soon as we hit the next town over (their eclipse had been shorter and ended earlier) we did hit traffic, but we never encountered my feared massive traffic jam. Once we got out of Arkansas and back into Oklahoma it was smooth sailing from there. 

The eclipse itself was so beautiful, and maybe ethereal is the word? We had 3.5minutes of totality and it was over far too quickly. I also enjoyed the crowd that we were with. We all cheered when the sun vanished behind the moon. (Most people came straight across on I-40, so California, New Mexico, Utah, Oklahoma, and Kansas were all represented. There were a few northerners as well, but I didn't see as many of those.)
Interestingly enough, I didn't notice the temperature drop so much, in fact if others hadn't pointed it out, I probably wouldn't have noticed it at all, it was similar to walking into a shady spot on a hot day. When my family saw the annular eclipse last fall in New Mexico, it was far more dramatic then (it got COLD). The only animal noises I noticed were some birds started chirping. There were cows and horses across the street and they didn't do anything dramatic. 😉 We were able to see Venus (hard to miss) but no other planets or stars were obvious due to the high clouds. 

At any rate, I was so glad we made it. As everyone probably knows the next cross country eclipse here in the States isn't until 2045 and I'll be in my 60s then. Plus my kids will be grown up, so I REALLY pushed to go see it. Totally worth it. 

And now I have a question for @stargazer and @rya because I think you two were the only ones to witness the eclipse with clear skies. For both eclipses I've witnessed, we've had some cloud cover, which made totality + the sky appear as a gorgeous azure blue. Is that what it looks like when it's clear? I guess all of the pictures I've ever seen make the sky look almost black, but I didn't know if that's because the camera lenses make it look that way in order to get a good picture? 

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Posted : April 15, 2024 8:52 am
stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator

I'm so glad you all got to see it, @fantasia! It sounds like you had a fun adventure.

In answer to your question, we also had some high thin cirrus clouds in Indiana. (They kind of bracketed the sun, though Jupiter and Venus were brightly visible through them). So our sky was probably similar to yours: deep, dark blue with that 360-degree twilight band around the horizon. Glorious!

My first totality was under a clear sky but I recall the sky appearing similar to this.  That was 45 years ago now. I feel old. 😉

So I think that darkness is largely due to the cameras’ sensitivity. I read somewhere (before the eclipse) that the human eye has an incredible versatility and dynamic range – able to see the delicate pearly corona, the various sky colors, and that wonderful red tongue-like prominence that appeared as a small line at the bottom of the sun during totality. Cameras tend to focus on one thing or another at the expense of the others.

I especially noticed this the other night. C-SPAN was replaying the NASA TV totality coverage, and it was fun watching their correspondents in various locations react to seeing the diamond ring effect and totality for the first time. But almost invariably, the cameras were overwhelmed with the bright flash, and the view was disappointing compared to experiencing it in real life. And in each case the sky looked way too dark, or the sun was overexposed, or the corona was underexposed. So I think the dark sky is exaggerated there. (The coverage from Niagara Falls showed an especially dark sky, as it was overcast there. But the crowded cheered when they saw a few seconds of totality through a hole in the clouds at the very end).

I traveled to Indiana (a rural location about an hour southwest of Indianapolis, near the center line, and we had about 4 minutes of totality). Joining me were most of Ryadian’s family. They have relatives there who were excited to host a viewing party; there were about 20 of us there. They went all out in decorating with sun and moon balloons and streamers, and there was plenty of food.

They had a large yard with a good view, so we could sit in our lawn chairs and enjoy the show.

The day was warm (close to 80F), and the temperature drop was very noticeable about half an hour before totality (it quickly warmed up again afterwards). It had rained the night before (and Tuesday morning was overcast), but eclipse day began with clear skies. There were some contrails that became a few thin cirrus clouds.

Unlike my previous times, we didn’t see the shadow rushing in from the southwest. But this time, I finally saw shadow bands, those shimmering waves of light and dark that come near totality.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_bands

The diamond ring marked the beginning of totality, and Jupiter and Venus were prominently visible. (Venus remained visible even after totality, and some of us reported seeing Jupiter briefly after totality, but I lost it in the cirrus clouds). About midway through totality, a small but unmistakable reddish line appeared near the bottom of the sun – a vibrant red prominence. It’s also visible in many of the pictures I’ve seen of the eclipse.  It was easily visible to the unaided eye and its bright color was quite a contrast to the rest of the scene.

I really didn’t notice any change in animal behavior. The only animals easily seen were our hosts’ two dogs, who seemed unfazed by it all.

All too soon there was another diamond ring and the sun began to return. “Ethereal” is a perfect word for it, I think.

After totality everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me, which was quite touching.

We spent Monday night in Indiana (to avoid any serious traffic) and drove all the way back on Tuesday. That evening, as we neared Minnesota, we saw a very delicate crescent Moon in the west. I was rather surprised to see it, since it was only about 30 hours after new moon. It was quite pretty in the twilight and flanked by some clouds.

So…2044 and 2045. I’ll be truly ancient by then…

 

 

 

 

This post was modified 2 days ago 2 times by stargazer

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Topic starter Posted : April 15, 2024 11:51 am
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Guru

Did anyone order a DVD of the eclipse?  The Great American Eclipse is a Nova episode about the eclipse, but apparently it was made before the event happened.  I ordered it anyway because it seemed like it had a lot of general information about eclipses on it.  I think I will be pleased with the item when I receive the DVD, which will be released in June. I usually like the Nova episodes about astronomy very much. I think the DVD is the same as this PBS video, which has the same title:

This post was modified 2 days ago 6 times by Narnian78
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Posted : April 15, 2024 8:44 pm
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