About 25 years ago as a kid I had looked up future total eclipses and had marked the 2017 eclipse as the one I would see. I’d be old enough to travel when I please, it would be summer and it would be at a location that’s easy to go to (I visit the US regularly). As it often happens, I wasn’t really going to honor my childhood plans, I had a rather busy summer, until, about a month before the eclipse I suddenly said, hey, why the hell not? I called up my cousin in Baltimore, asked him if he was up for an eclipse road trip to somewhere around Tennessee/North Carolina, and, as they say, the rest is history (images enlarge when you click them):
I tried to stay at Knoxville, but ended up in nearby Pigeon Forge due to trying to book too late. The plan was to look at the forecast and head to one of a few sites I had looked up, the closest being Madisonville, TN and alternatives like Hiawassee GA or TN beyond Nashville. As luck would have it, Madisonville had the best forecast and we headed there (2m 38s totality). The town had arranged a big party at Kefauver park, about 5 miles from the town center. We, along with about 200 people ended up at Not-Kefauver-park, a smaller park in the center of the town, having only read the big letters “Kefauver park” on a helpful sign at the smaller park (that apparently went on explaining how to actually get to Kefauver park – the town had even set up buses to take you there). To our defense the town’s online advertisement said “Houston Park”, so that’s what we had tried to locate on our GPS. Well, the weather was great, our toilets did not have long lines and I met some very nice people, so I can’t complain!
I had brought with me from the UK my trusty Canon 550D, the Equinox 80D – my most portable OTA, and a Skywatcher Star Adventurer I had picked up just for the trip, which sat on a heavy duty tripod I borrowed from my uncle. Daytime alignment with Polar Scope Align Pro was of course a breeze and gave excellent tracking. In the above image you can see some weird bubble wrap which was a last-minute modification once I realized I had with me the wider Baader Astrosolar ND5.0 film mount (from my Evostar 80ED). I also had an ND3.8 Baader photo film which went to my cousin’s Nikon 300mm lens, and an Acuter Innova 10×42 pair of binoculars with Thousand Oaks filters. The plan was to have the camera on the telescope controlled by my laptop running Eclipse Orchestrator, so that it takes the exposures I had programmed (about 100 around totality) while I enjoyed the eclipse. I had the only telescope in the park and, being my usual helpful self, I had it set up for viewing so that people can enjoy the partial phases (quite some sunspot activity), so I only switched it to the camera quite late as can be seen from this sequence that starts with the first partial phase I was able to take:
This is the first exposure attempting to capture the diamond ring, getting a lot of glare with a longish exposure:
The end of totality, starting with some nice chromosphere and prominences:
And a compilation of single shots of the end of the eclipse.
A few more HDR shots from totality, each image is made of 8 exposures from 1/4s to 1/4000s and processed a little differently to highlight different features.
I might update the post with more if I have the patience for more processing…