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Blog #797

Solar Eclipse - 8/21/2017

I had mapped out where the line of maximum totality crossed Interstate 65 and the point was just south of Exit 112, Cross Plains, Tennessee.  I had seen on Google maps that there was a large church right off of this exit.  I didn’t know what to expect as I pulled into their parking lot.  A couple church members greeted us and asked if we were here to watch the eclipse.  They allowed us to park for $20, which turned out to be a great value.  There was a large paved parking lot, shade trees, a shelter house, restrooms and large open grassy areas for viewing.

Solar Eclipse

We arrived at about 11:30, so we had about two hours to wait until totality.  Shawn and I walked to the shelter house and found a picnic table to sit at.  We talked, played on our phones and listened to the conversations of the others.

The partial eclipse started around noon and over the next hour-and-a-half the sunshine slowing dimmed and the temperature gradually cooled.  Our eyes continually adjusted to the muted sunlight and with the sun directly overhead, it still seemed like it was mid-day but the sunlight didn’t have the same warming or scorching effect when we stood out in the direct sunlight.  As totality neared the surroundings felt more like dusk but the sun was still directly overhead.  It was a strange psychological trick the sky was playing on us.  Most of the decreased temperature occurred in just the last minute or two before totality.  I watched through the solar eclipse sunglasses as the last sliver of the sun grew thinner and thinner.  Then suddenly it was a total eclipse.

I quickly took off my special sunglasses and view the total eclipse directly.  It was one of the most beautiful and amazing sights I have ever seen.  Powerful, delicate and angelic.  It was much more than I have ever expected.

Totality had started at 1:27 and I had just two-and-a-half-minutes to capture as many photographs as I could.  I started with my shutter speed set at one second and adjusted it with each successive picture.  Right from the first picture I could see that the exposure was too long.  After each photo I quickly review it on the screen and turned the shutter speed down more and more and zoomed in a little tighter.  By the end of totality the shutter speed was at 1/2000 second.

Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse

Once totality had ended I looked off to the eastern horizon and I could see a dark area that was the umbra moving away from us.

Solar Eclipse

Notice the dark area on the horizon at the center of the photo created by the umbra.

Both before and after totality we looked at the patterns of sunlight on the grown under a nearby tree created by the leaves of the tree.  Dozens of cresents appeared on the ground.  The direction of the crescents were opposite each other before and after totality.

Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse

Soon Shawn and I finished with our pictures, gathered our things and headed out.  We wanted to get a head start and beat any traffic from all of the eclipse watchers.

Click here to see all my pictures of the Solar Eclipse.

We were headed to our next visit in Memphis.

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