Total Solar Eclipse

We had a number of plans at the ready based on the weather for the eclipse. As the day approached, it looked like Vermont was going to be it. The cloud forecast pushed us east from our original idea of Burlington, so I popped up the eclipse track and Google Maps and found a Price Chopper parking lot in Derby, Vermont.

We left the house at about 8:15am for what Google initially said was going to be a 3.5 hour drive. It was, of course, significantly longer than that. We hit traffic all over the place. As we started to get into the path of totality, you could tell because there were people everywhere. All of the roadside parking areas on the highways were jammed with people pointing their cameras and telescopes at the sky and many residents were out in their yards.

By the time we finally arrived at our destination, the partial eclipse was just getting underway. I scrambled to attempt to set up my mount and telescope, but nothing worked. The battery I had charged the night before and turned on to test didn’t turn on. I managed to borrow power from my friend, but then my mini PC wouldn’t connect to my wifi hotspot. My planned timelapse of the partial eclipse and video of totality were toast. So we sat back, watched the moon slowly slide in front of the sun, and took it all in.

We observed some interesting effects of the partial eclipse as the temperature dropped, the shadows got fuzzy, and the sky began to darken. It was an odd sort of dark - somewhere between a partly cloudy day and a full moon. We could see Venus below the moon and if we had turned around, we would have seen Jupiter as well.

Once totality hit, it was a DRASTIC change. We watched through the eclipse glasses as the tiny sliver of sun slowly disappeared and then poof: darkness. We removed our eclipse glasses to see the dark moon surrounded by the corona and it was simply stunning. We could see some of the solar prominences with our naked eyes and I took the opportunity to snap a few photos with my DSLR. The temperature dropped even more during totality and the parking lot lights turned on in the darkness. The 360 degree sunset was soo strange. Three and a half minutes of totality flew by and the sun popped back out from behind the moon.

I packed up my non-functional astrophotography gear and we piled back into the car for the long ride home. This ride was an adventure. Google Maps was constantly trying to save us time by dumping us off the jam-packed highway onto jam-packed back roads. The definite highlight was a dirt road that started with small children at the end of their drive way flipping off traffic, had a group of adults with a sign that said “U Honk We Drink”, and intersected numerous other dirt roads. I’m not sure it saved us any time, but it was kind of fun. We had one other dirt road detour that just ended in a massive line of traffic, a bathroom/gas stop that took a full 30 minutes, and probably 2 hours spent trying to escape from Franconia, NH. After we got through Franconia, we were pretty much home free…but still 2.5 hours from home.