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A Total Eclipse of the Sun


Local Friends of the Eclipse Awed – Even Through the Fog

 

By Nick Herbert

 

The much-awaited all-USA total eclipse of the Sun on August 21, 2017 sent many residents of Boulder Creek to Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming to abide in the path of totality for two glorious minutes – a nationwide personal pilgrimage to witness the temporary Death of the Sun. Those of us in the Bay Area who stayed behind hoped to observe, through clear skies, a fairly ample 75% eclipse.

Eclipse was expected to start at 9:00 am local time, reaching maximum sometime after 10:00, and return to normal around 11:00. Monday was predicted to be a clear day in BC. But it wasn’t. Dark and light clouds until about noon – morning fog filling the valley rim-to-rim as high as the summit – which by then, the eclipse was over.

I had rigged up a simple solar projector in the parking lot of the Boulder Creek Post Office. When I got there, a guy named Gene from Bear Creek Road had already set up a powerful filtered telescope on Main Street in front of Liberty Bank. I recognized Gene and his telescope from previous eclipses and remembered viewing, through his instrument, images of the partially eclipsed Sun so large that you could count its sunspots.

Despite the cloudy weather, about half a dozen stalwart spectators gathered in the parking lot to await the upcoming Death of the Sun. Sheila and Jerry Delaney, owners of one of Boulder Creek’s longest-running businesses, Blind Pilot Jewelry, showed up with a box of Eclipse Cookies – which consist of the common Oreo with upper black layer displaced to expose a crescent white filling. Jerry brought a welding helmet to filter the intense rays of the sun – if it ever came out from behind the clouds. Reno de Caro and his son Alex came to photograph the event for posterity. Long-time BC resident Judy Reynolds came by, followed by a woman in a wheelchair and her companion, whose names I did not get. All of us stood around in the fog (which was so thick it was almost drizzling), awaiting a lucky break in the clouds.

 

And, then, yes, it happened! At a time, close to totality, the clouds briefly thinned for a few minutes, long enough to view and photograph the eclipse without filters or instruments (the fog itself spontaneously provided us with a wholly natural solar filter). We snapped a few shots with our digital cameras before Nature quickly shut us down. The fog lasted till noon, after which the day quickly turned sunny and hot.

 

Even as late as 10:30 am, the valley was still filled with fog. About 1000 feet above the Boulder Creek Post Office, Val Ahlgren at Ahlgren Vineyard snapped a picture with her iPhone of the cloud-filtered Sun near maximum extinction, similar to the lucky pictures we took in the parking lot.

Many local viewers gathered at Crest Ranch on Empire Grade, which was above the fog belt, and were rewarded with a full-spectrum solar eclipse experience viewable only through dense sunglasses – which were provided by local libraries and some hardware stores.

Meanwhile, some of our Boulder Creek friends, notably Allan and Sun Lundell (aka Doctor and Mrs. Future) traveled to the Symbiosis festival in central Oregon where they joined 70,000 other eclipse pilgrims to observe the Sun’s temporary demise.

 

Using a filtered iPhone, Dr. and Mrs. Future captured this beautiful “diamond-ring” photo of the total eclipse of the Sun from the Big Summit Prairie in Oregon.

 

The next total solar eclipse visible from North America will be April 8, 2024. More photos from the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse from Felton’s Larry Colen: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ellarsee/sets/72157685332141491

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