The total solar eclipse last week was the talk of the town for pretty much the whole summer. I remember hearing dire predictions about crowd size last spring and it only got worse as time went on. By the week before the eclipse we had taken all precautions- gassed up all the vehicles, filled the pantry, and scouted out all the back road routes we might need to take to avoid traffic. Mark was out of town, so it was just Ryan and me making plans to head to the total eclipse zone for an overnight.
At our house we could have seen a 99% solar eclipse. At first it was my inclination to be satisfied with that, but after hearing my Dad's argument (and pretty much anyone who has seen a total eclipse) why we should go the extra mile (or 30) to see this once in a lifetime spectacle, I relented and started making plans.
As it turned out, while there were localized traffic jams, including a really awful, hours-long jam east of Prineville for folks going to the Symbiosis festival, in Bend we actually had very light road traffic. Our route to the eclipse would take us to Sisters and then north to where we would have 1 minute and 24 seconds of totality. But, like I said, I scouted out the back roads that I'd never tried before and since this was an adventure, Ryan and I took those back roads even if we didn't need to. It was fun to see a part of Central Oregon I'd never been to. We loaded up the pickup with camping gear and lots of food and drinks and headed to a private ranch for the eclipse party.
Rimrock Ranch is private, but the owner coordinates tours with the Deschutes Land Trust and the Sisters Astronomy Club. My dad is a member of the SAC and so we were invited to join ranch owner Gayle for a night-before star party and the eclipse viewing the following morning.
Skies were rather smoky over most of Bend and Sisters, but luckily the ranch was a bit north of the smokiest part and we had pretty good skies while we were there. This field is the place where the astronomers set up viewing telescopes for all the celestial sights.
Sunday afternoon was pretty hot and spent mostly relaxing in the shade, but by the evening the temperatures had cooled enough to make a game of frisbee a pleasant pastime.
After sunset we were treated to a fantastic star party. We had views of Saturn with moon and rings, Jupiter with two moons, globular clusters, nebulae, and beautiful meteors. We didn't get to bed until rather late.
We woke up before dawn on Monday and caught these beautiful sunrise pictures. Ryan and I are really night owls, so this whole experience is something we rarely see.
By 9 am we were breakfasted and mostly packed and ready to watch the eclipse. As I said, my Dad is an amateur astronomer and retired physicist. He was over the moon (so to speak) about the possibilities of a total solar eclipse right in his back yard. He and several others from the SAC brought telescopes and binoculars with solar filters. Of course, we also had our solar eclipse glasses. The eclipse started shortly after 9 am, but it wasn't until about 10 am that you could notice a definite shift in the light and a cooling of the air temperature.
Everyone needs glasses, including Scrabble.
This was at about 10 am. The light was changing all around, the temp was cooling by quite a bit and Scrabble was loving it. I started drawing my sketchbook page, ready for the eclipse.
In addition to the astronomy club folks and their families, there was a tour group of volcanologists that had a tour at the ranch for the eclipse.
After 10 am the light became more and more eerie.
Once totality began I tried to take a photo of the sun, but my camera wasn't focusing. I gave up on that and got this one photo of everyone in the dark. The 1 minute and 24 seconds were going by so fast! I did get a video of all of us reacting to the eclipse which you can see part of on Instagram. In addition, my Dad made a time lapse video of photos he took of the eclipse. It was an amazing sight and worth all the trouble to get there for it. Makes me want to see another one!
Here are some of the pages from my sketchbook of the two days we were at the ranch. I'm glad I was able to record my thoughts soon after the event. It was truly spectacular. If you are ever in the path of one you won't soon forget it!