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July-August Weather Updates;
Memories of the March 1970 Total Solar Eclipse

Posted: 4 August 2017

Wednesday morning, 26 July 2017, after I completed some Sun test exposures in preparation for the Solar Eclipse in August, the sky became mostly cloudy. Thursday, 27 July, dawned partly cloudy but became overcast by mid-afternoon, with some brief sprinkles (0.02"). Friday, 28 July, also dawned partly cloudy, but in typical Monsoon Season fashion the sky was mostly overcast by mid-afternoon. Same for Saturday, 29 July, but there was more stormy weather around, as seen in this panoramic photo (South-West-North):

Click or tap on image for larger version

A brief thunderstorm came through Saturday afternoon followed by some continuous light rain (total 0.08"). Sunday, 30 July, was overcast. Monday, 31 July, began mostly clear, but was overcast by mid-afternoon with a brief rainshower (0.02"). Beginning about sunset and continuing into the night, thunderstorms in the area had frequent CTG (Cloud-To-Ground) and CTC (Cloud-To-Cloud) lightning. Here are three images that were captured by my webcams:


With Cassiopeia Observatory being opened only twice in July 2017 due to cloudy skies, it was the worse month for opening the observatory since July 2013, which also had only two openings. That ties it for the worse month since the observatory was first opened in August 2009.

Tuesday, 1 August, was mostly overcast, which was to be expected since I had received a new Manfrotto Geared Head the day before and hoped to test it this day. About sunset a brief thunderstorm occurred (0.19"). Wednesday, 2 August, was cloudy with a surprise rainshower after sunrise (0.24"). Thursday, 3 August, was cloudy with a brief thundershower mid-afternoon (only a trace of rain though). That evening I attended the Oracle Dark Skies Committee meeting at Oracle State Park, our local IDA "International Dark Sky Park".

Friday morning, 4 August, was mostly clear. That allowed me to do some final Sun imaging tests in preparation for the Total Solar Eclipse. The sky turned partly cloudy mid-morning.

Total Solar Eclipse, 9 March 1970

In anticipation of the 21 August 2017 Total Solar Eclipse, I thought I would post some photos from my last Total Solar Eclipse trip. I and two other seniors from the Indiana University Department of Astronomy were driven to Florida by an Astronomy graduate student to view the eclipse. Here are the three seniors (L-R: Jon Thomas, me, and Dennis Dawson) at our accommodations in Florida the night before the BIG EVENT:


(The pup was a local visitor.)

Several telescopes were set up:


There was a 3.5" Questar:


And a drool-worthy 7" Questar:


The visitors from Indiana set up some 35mm cameras (mine is in the middle):


A close-up of my Pentax Spotmatic 35mm SLR with a telephoto lens and solar filter:


Unfortunately, we were clouded out during the entire eclipse with occasional light rain occurring:


At Totality the sky was completely overcast, which made for an interesting scene:


I am hoping for better weather for this year's Total Solar Eclipse.

On my previous report I mentioned that I was going to look for a replacement camera ball head that allowed for fine adjustments in azimuth and elevation. I found one: Arca-Swiss d4 Tripod Head with a Classic Knob Quick Release (Geared). But at over $1000 I passed on that model! I briefly considered the iOptron Ball Head but reviews indicated it had the same problem I experienced with my Manfrotto ball head with a long telephoto lens. I then received a recommendation for the Manfrotto 410 Geared Head ($250) from an astrophotographer friend. This was exactly what I was looking for. I ordered it and have now posted a review of it. Thanks Rob!

I was recently interviewed by the Louisville, Kentucky, Courier-Journal newspaper for this article: "How to photograph the Great American Eclipse with your iPhone".

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