Solar eclipse 2017, as seen from (ironically) Wheatland, Wyoming 1

Solar eclipse 2017, as seen from (ironically) Wheatland, Wyoming
DENVER, COLORADO — Today’s total solar eclipse was my fourth and my son’s first, and despite some traffic delays, it was a total success! Our plan was to witness the eclipse from Casper, Wyoming, where I once worked, so we got up early to drive from Denver. But, traffic on I-25 was slower than we expected, and we realized that if we continued to Casper, we’d miss most of the show, including totality. So, we opted to stop at Wheatland, which was just on the edge of totality. [See map below.] We got there just in time for me to mount my camera on a Benro tripod to catch first contact (no ETs, sorry). To minimize camera shake, I used a wireless shutter release for all of these shots. Unlike in 2009, when I used a #14 welding glass to shoot the eclipse in Wuhan, China — which made everything unnaturally green — I used a solar filter film from Thousand Oaks Optical. I waited too long to order a screw-on camera filter, so I settled for taping the film over the lens hood. Low tech, but it worked. Also, I discovered the camera could not automatically adjust the shutter ...

Exploring Wuhan, Hubei’s provincial capital, day 1

Exploring Wuhan, Hubei's provincial capital, day 1
WUHAN, HUBEI — After totality was over on July 22, the clouds moved in, and watching the end of the eclipse was unrewarding. So, we packed up our stuff and set off to explore this sprawling city of 9 million people. We had an ambitious plan: visit Wuhan University, Hubei Provincial Museum, Huang He Lou (Yellow Crane Tower), Wuhan Botanical Gardens, Mo Shan, maybe go shopping … We did about half those things, partly because we chose to go to the museum first (it’s really big!) and partly because we took the right bus, going the wrong direction, to visit the tower. We got a cheap (2 yuan) hour’s long tour of Wuhan by taking the long way to Yellow Crane Tower. The provincial museum is fairly new, and showcases a huge collection of 2200-year-old artifacts unearthed in the late 1970s from sites in the northern part of Hubei. There is also a section highlighting the prehistory of Hubei — including fossils of Homo erectus (Yunxian Man) and contemporary animals. [Note to creationists: those animals did not include dinosaurs. Dinosaurs did NOT co-exist with humans in China, or anywhere else for that matter. This sign makes that concept very clear.] ...

Journey to the East, to see an eclipse

WUHAN, HUBEI — Sometimes flying by the seat of your pants is better than weeks of careful planning. Originally, my plan was to travel to Chongqing to the west to view the July 22 solar eclipse, but Wuhan became my destination after my friend Elektra and I were invited to Liuyang to attend a friend’s birthday party later the same week. Given the time required to get anywhere in China, being in Chongqing on Wednesday would have made it difficult to get to Liuyang, east of Changsha, two days later. Both Wuhan and Chongqing turned out to be better choices than Shanghai, where a group of astronomers from around the world set up shop to view the event. Heavy rains ruined any chance of seeing the eclipse there. There were a few other reasons to choose Wuhan. I learned that there would be viewing sites at Wuhan University and near Dong Lake, and I needed to buy a solar filter to safely watch and photograph the eclipse. I figured some Chinese entrepreneur would be selling them at Wuhan’s prime viewing spots. (I was right.) Also, Wuhan is Hubei’s provincial capital, so we figured there would be many different bus and ...
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