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5/21/2012

Observing the May 20th, Annular Solar Eclipse

Well, after a night of observing on Saturday, and I'll post about that later this week, I awoke today and my 19 year old daughter Kendra and my 18 year old son Nathan and I made a get away to southern Utah to view the eclipse.  We loaded up a picnic made at home by my wife (she stayed home as the drive is not good for her back) and a nice cooler of cold drinks and headed south.

The drive south was uneventful for the most part.  I had a wonderful time talking with Kendra and Nathan and enjoying their company.  My daughter, who usually always claims the front seat, sat in the back seat in the Pathfinder so that Nathan, who is much taller and bigger than her 5 foot 2 inch frame could have the passenger seat.  We gassed the Pathfinder up in Fillmore, and I tried to decide if I wanted to stay in Fillmore, go to Cove Fort or go to Beaver.  I went for Beaver and that made the journey eventful.  As we exited in Beaver, I got rear ended by a gold Lexus.  We pulled over, exchanged information and though very disappointed, the other party admitted fault and graciously promised to ensure that my car will be repaired this week (he builds race cars and fixes up cars to sell).  So tomorrow morning I'll have to call the insurance company and then get that going.  The car was fine to drive though luckily and though the bumper and its supports will need to be repaired and replaced, like I said, we could continue.  On top of that, neither my son or my daughter or myself, or the driver, his spouse and their two kids were hurt in any way.

After getting through that event, the kids and I headed out to Minersville Reservation Recreation Reservoir, to the west of Beaver Utah.  It wasn't the center line but I was just fine with that.  I felt this location gave me a good view of the ring of fire, and would allow me to get home one to two hours earlier than going farther south.  Now that I am home, I made the right choice.  I also confirmed what an outstanding place Minersville Reservation Rec. Area could be for observing.  The campground is to the north of the parking lot and there is a large open area to the south of the parking lot for observing.  There are hills around the site but there is enough area that if one wanted to be out of the campground area to observe, that is very possible as the land around the reservoir is public land.  Here you can see my son Nathan fiddling with something and the solar scope set up as we waited for the beginning.  There were two men there photographing the eclipse, a couple of families in the camping area and then one older family like mine with kids in roughly the same age range, perhaps just a little older that hung out with us.







Here is the solar scope looking west on the open lot.  








Looking north.  The campgrounds are where those large trees are in the background, and the parking lot is between them.  That is my daughter Kendra on the rock reading her Nook.  I'm glad she is such a veracious reader, who reads and reads because she enjoys it. 






Looking south with lots of open space here. 








Looking south-west over the reservoir with the open area.  








 Go to the third picture above and this one continues that shot but more to the north west.  At the end of the parking lot is the boat launch.





 My first snap shot of the eclipse through the eyepiece of the solar scope.  Yep, the moon is taking a slice out of it.







My attempted shot right before the one I took above.  Too light.  






 Probably the best shot of all of them that I got.  I like this one!








 Moon keeps eating more of the sun.  Not bad.








I held the camera at the wrong angle so it was a little brighter than I wanted, but that is a nice crescent. 









Nice crescent here, taken before the one above.  











More from the beginning.  No order to these, just posting them up for others to enjoy or be critical of.  They aren't the best, but they worked for what I was doing. 








 That blue dot of light kept following my shot around!








This cut off image is the only one I got of the ring of fire. It was a little off but to the eye in the glasses and in the eyepiece it was pretty hard to see it this way.  This was just after the annular stage.











The one thing that I really appreciated about this day, was despite it being a bummer getting rear ended,  I had a wonderful time spending time with my two kids.  Also, the man and his two adult children and one of their boyfriends (?) who hung out with us and shared our views and our glasses made the experience that much more enjoyable.  We looked and talked, and connected.  At the end, we said good-bye but for a moment, an astronomical event connected us as human beings.  It wasn't scheduled, wasn't planned, it just occurred because we were both in the right spot at that right time.  It amazes me how often aspects of this hobby can allow us to have an instant connection with others.  We need more of that in the world I think.  Hope you had a safe and fun time observing the eclipse.