Monday, August 21, 2017

Almost a Blackout

Photo captured with my phone through solar glasses, a few minutes before peak darkness
(click image to enlarge)
A month ago, on our way to Charleston, SC, with friends, we stopped at Congaree National Park, near Columbia, for a picnic lunch, and while there, we chatted with some of the rangers about the upcoming total eclipse, as Columbia was one of the prime areas for viewing it. They informed us that even then every hotel in the city was sold out for the event, and they anticipated massive traffic on the highways both before and after. It made me very glad we hadn't opted to travel at this particular time.

No, I'm so not into crowds that I wouldn't queue up with more than a handful of people to see Jesus if he returned, not to mention anything less momentous. Since our area was in the 95% coverage zone, I was quite happy just to take a few hours off work and make the relatively brief drive down to Southern Guilford High School for the "Almost Blackout" geocaching/eclipse event, hosted by cacher/science teacher Mark Case. A nicely planned and executed event it was, as Mark provided numerous implements for viewing the eclipse, including various projection devices, solar glasses, cameras fitted with solar lenses, and a telescope outfitted to view the sun directly (its surface looks like moldy cheddar cheese). And for attending, you get credit for a geocache as well. A good but hardly oppressive crowd of attendees, too. Just my speed.

The weather proved reasonably cooperative—lots of clouds, but also plenty of breaks for clear viewing, particularly at peak coverage, and the rain held off until, literally, seconds after the event ended. Given my distrust of...well, everything...I risked nothing more than quick glances through the solar glasses, but those glances were impressive. The last total eclipse I remember witnessing was way back in March 1970, when I was ten years old. I made a projector with a sheet of cardboard and a pan of water, and I recall being most impressed by how dark it got. Not dark like nighttime or beneath cloudy skies, but kind of a weird, almost surreal dimness. Today, it didn't get quite as dark as I expected it to, perhaps because we did get only 95% coverage here.

The only damper on the day was suffering a migraine early this morning—I've had one of the worst series of them ever in the past couple of months. Fortunately, after the passing of the blinding light shows, the headaches haven't been that bad, and this one never got above a moderate pain level.

Fucking migraines.

Anyway, I had a nice lunch at Thai Chiang Mai in High Point, claimed a couple of extra caches, and got to hang out with a bunch of good folks at a rare event. You'd best believe I'll take it.

And thanks much to you, Mr. Case.
The near-complete eclipse could be seen with fair clarity through the clouds here
(click image to enlarge and look just left of center)
A nice crowd at the "Almost Blackout" event (photo by Mark Case)

1 comment:

Mark Case said...

Thank you for coming! I am glad to have had the equipment for everyone to use.