Saturday, 16 September 2017

Chaser Log Growth and Changes

Since the August 2017 TSE, the eclipse chasers log has grown with the addition of many first time eclipse chasers. I hope to see each and every one under the umbra someday!

232 people (as of this blog entry) input entries for the August 2017 TSE thus far. Most are veteran eclipse chasers but there are a few for whom this was the first. Just like 1999 and 1991 and 1972 launched a generation of eclipse chasers, 2017 will be pivotal in that regard.

Welcome page to

I have also made some small changes to the programming of the eclipse chasers web site. The eclipse chasers table for "who saw it" has been enhanced with easier to use headings and summary details. There will be some more changes coming soon thanks to the continued input of various eclipse chasers.

Also, due to a small bug or operational issue in the entry of eclipse logs, it was too easy to use the elevation of the default. This was spotted by veteran eclipse chaser Tony Crocker who then went on a search to find the true elevations for those that had used the default value. We did not modify eclipse timings and so forth, just the elevation values. Thanks Tony for the sleuth work! By the way, I should mention that Tony got married at the eclipse to fellow eclipse chaser Liz O'Mara - contrats guys!

I did look into getting the elevation from the Google API however it is too restricted in terms of how many inquiries you can make to the database. Maybe at some later date that can be updated when Google doesn't need to charge so much to cover whatever costs.

On the bad news front, sorry for not updating information and adding cartoons for a while. Hurricane Irma did a direct hit on our place in Florida. We are okay.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Eclipse 2019 Options

Even though it is two years away, travel companies are hoping to cash in on your interest. They are beginning to offer options to go to the Eclipse in South America 2 July 2019. You can see some of them at where I started a list. (Note to travel companies, send me a link to your site so I can add it to the list.)

The majority listed thus far have chosen Chile as the destination. Looking at the path of totality one can see that the majority of the eclipse is out at sea. A cruise ship is probably the best solution however they are relatively rare in this part of the ocean, especially at this time of year (July). That is the winter season in the southern hemisphere. Only the northern most part of the path goes through the tropics where weather should be favorable.

So what about the Chile options? Are they worth it? Of course, that is, if you can afford it. Travel to South America can be expensive if you want to take in all the places to see. Some of the eclipse travel companies are offering limited, eclipse only, options. This can save a bit on the costs. But do you want to miss all the wonderful things that can be seen for a just a little more money? This is why eclipse travel budgeting is an important part of the process. These expeditions can get expensive!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Planning for the next one?

In case you had not noticed, the Great American Eclipse is over. At least this one is finished. It was a huge success for most eclipse chasers as the August sky cooperated over the majority of the USA continental landfall. Sky gazers saw super clear sky out in the west while those of us in the Midwest enjoyed hazy clear sky. Only a few areas were unlucky with the clouds. You can see the results at this web page where observers have indicated their results.

Corona of 2017 eclipse - Bill Kramer Canon SX60 handheld

More photographic results can be viewed at this 2017 eclipse gallery web page.

Even at maximum duration, this eclipse was kind of short. Under three minutes is never enough corona viewing time! And what a spectacular corona it was too.

So what about the next eclipse?

Upcoming eclipses include two that go across South America and one that will visit the continental USA. These eclipses are a bit longer in duration but come at times when the weather may not be as cooperative.

A really great web site full of travel ideas can be found at:

Are you making any plans to see one or more of these? I am. My wife and I will be on board a cruise ship in the South Pacific. We opted for that route after looking at the weather prospects. The eclipse of 2019 (there is no total solar eclipse in 2018) will cross the southern part of South America during the local winter season. The majority of the eclipse is over the waters of the Pacific Ocean thus a cruise ship or airplane represent the best ways to go. Unfortunately all of these options are quite expensive and this will limit the number of people who can see the eclipse.

The Next Great American Eclipse

If you cannot or do not want to travel the next total solar eclipse in the continental USA will be in 2024. This eclipse comes in April and the climate at that time of year for most of the track inside the USA is not all that great. The track does include part of Mexico as well as Texas and there are great options in those locations.

At least one does not have too long to wait. The last eclipse to hit the lower 48 of the USA was in 1979. Some of us waited a long time for 2017!

When will the tours start to organize? 

Generally the tours to an eclipse are organized a year to five years in advance. The longer the advance, the more difficult or limited the options - such as an Antarctic eclipse intercept. There will be one such eclipse coming up in 2021. Planning for that one started over a year ago with contacts made to airlines and ship companies with equipment for tourism in that region.

The 2024 eclipse organizing might already be underway in some places. I expect tour groups will begin to advertise for advance sign up options soon. However the majority of options will not be available until the year before, sometime in 2023. Because of the interest generated in this past August's eclipse it is expected to be another big event generator.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Eclipse Road Trip - After all that driving

Vintage Questar with solar projector - first contact
Mid Totality - Canon Powershot 60 - 1/60s
All I can say is "Wow, this has been fun!"

We saw a lot, we had a clear sky for the eclipse, we had relatively smooth traffic, hotels worked out well, met lots of friendly people, saw a rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center, and had a grand tour from Cleveland Ohio all the way to Ft Myers Florida.

Dublin Ohio, Field of Concrete Corn

Into Kentucky!

Coffee shop along the way

Franklin KY Solar Eclipse

Antique shop in Nashville

Minivan transport

Welcome to Florida

KSC Visitor Center

Eclipse Day in Franklin KY

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Eclipse Road Trip!

Wow, I have dreamed of this for decades! A road-trip to an eclipse.

I am actually writing this entry before we begin because today I expect to be driving all day in Ohio visit the Amish farms and gathering up some road trip munchies. My birthplace was Youngstown Ohio, an industrial town. Growing up near the steel mills was a challenge as an amateur astronomer and after getting a driver's license my radius of observing sites greatly expanded. Through the local astronomy club I met others of the same ilk and we even had a somewhat remote observatory setup. We talked about eclipses (some of them had gone to the 1970 eclipse) and the next ones coming up every so often. 1979 was a target, but the roads would be a mess that time of year (February). We joked about chasing the 2017 eclipse in our flying cars.

Well, here it is, 2017. AND I DON'T HAVE A FLYING CAR!

Enough of that whining, it is 2017, and now a road trip eclipse is a reality. Starting at Cleveland airport we are going through Columbus Ohio and then on down to Kentucky, near the Tennessee border, to view the eclipse on Monday. Along with us will be some good friends of ours, one from Germany and another from Jamaica. Neither has ever been to America and their reactions to what they see will be interesting. I will write that up later.

For now, we are cruising, off line, out in the Amish country side, taking in the view. Probably at a slow pace...

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Music for Eclipse Chasing

Another question that comes up every so often is about what music is considered the best for eclipse chasing.

This is a matter of personal taste in my mind. I may like some type of music and not another that you like and you may not like my favorites. So it seems important to put some context to this question and see if any answers may come up.

While driving to the eclipse.

Obviously this music is your own to hear, and those in the vehicle with you. So crank it up and have a good drive! Pick those songs you love to hear when driving. Just be careful, there are other eclipse chasers on the road with their music on too.

You probably know what music you'd like for this part. Or it may even be a recorded book reading. So I see no reason to comment further.

Before the eclipse.

Wear headphones. Your music may not appeal to all around you. This is just a courtesy thing. Again, pick the music you love, that gets you up, that gives you a smile. Just don't sing out loud and dance too much.

During totality.

I cannot recommend any music for totality. It has music of its own. The crowd cheers as the diamond ring starts totality, then subsides, the camera click away, comments about this and that are made, then the crowd noise increases as third contact approaches climaxing in another glorious diamond ring. You don't need additional music in the background, just take it in with all your senses.

After totality.

If others near you enjoy your type of music, turn it up (otherwise be polite). It is party time to celebrate seeing the eclipse. You are now an eclipse chaser. Your musical tastes may not change but your appreciation of the universe will.

So what music do I like? I like something calming before the eclipse. Mozart, Holst, Cronixx, Marley, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, and so forth. After the eclipse, almost anything goes!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

When did you hear about the American Eclipse of 2017?

An interesting question to ask others who may not be as tuned into eclipses or astronomy is when did they learn about the eclipse taking place across America.

Many will say they only learned about it in the last year. And this is largely due to efforts by the eclipse chaser community per se, the astronomical community, and scientific organizations. There are many people that have been involved and we've been organizing information for years.

In the past few years entire conferences have been devoted to planning for the eclipse of 2017 across America. We knew then that traffic may be a problem, that weather resources would be needed, and that people would be anxious for detailed information.

Cities, state, and local governments were contacted to let them know it was coming. Most acted as though it was too far into the future to be concerned about however in the last year that has changed and those of us involved were happy to provide as much detailed information as possible.

So how about myself? When did I first learn about the eclipse across America? I found out about it back in the 1970s when a couple of eclipses did touch America, 1970 and 1979. While I was unable to see these totals I did have a serious interest in astronomy. A presentation of eclipse results in 1970 led me to going to my first total solar eclipse in 1972 and it was there that I learned about various future eclipses coming in the next few decades from some astronomers - and the specifics of the 2017 eclipse. A couple of the astronomers I met at the time had charts showing future eclipse paths and I was intrigued with how they calculated it all. This led to more of an interest in the math, I was only 13 at the time and found it fascinating.

My first good reference came in 1987 from NASA. Publication 1178 was a fifty year canon of solar eclipses from 1986 through 2035. It had maps and I marked all the pages of the eclipses I hoped to see, including the 2017 eclipse. On the front page of the book I put a plain sticker and wrote on it, "Bill's Travel Planner".

So how long ago did you know about the eclipse across America?