Wednesday, 23 August 2017

August 22nd - driving

Hello.

A bit later up this morning - awake by around 0845. This was so Richard and I could drive Dad the short distance to Lincoln Airport, for his flight to Chicago, and thence on another flight to Grand Rapids, in order to visit my cousin Craig, his wife Tara, and their kids, Kyle and Ryan.

We then left the hotel just before 12pm, having spent a bit of time with Rich and Ann waiting for Dad's plane to take off, so we could see it! We got a good view as it roared away towards the Windy City. We then said our goodbyes and headed our separate ways: them to the west, and us to the east.

We then drove the ~520 miles through eastern Nebraska, all of Iowa, all of Illinois, and into far NW Indiana (a new state for us both) and to our hotel in Munster.

Tomorrow, we will drive the ~170 miles to Grand Rapids, to join Dad, Craig, and family.

Mixed emotions today as we left the hotel, which had housed us for our eclipse adventure - today was the 'come down' after the excitement of yesterday.


Dad's plane as it left for Chicago - with power lines in the foreground.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

August 21st - Eclipse!!!!

Wow. Just, Wow. What an incredible day - seared into my consciousness for the rest of my days.

We awoke before the alarm's shrill beeps - which were set to go off at 5am. The iPad was on before you could say 'cloud cover', and the somewhat stressful task of analysing the satellite imagery (models went out the window now) began. This wasn't just a case of getting me to the eclipse: we all needed to get there! We've been waiting for 18 years, since the cloudy eclipse in S Devon in Aug 1999, to see this. There was no way some shields of cirrus from the SW'ern USA was going to stop this - not on my watch!

The plan was that we would decide before 6am what to do - the plan was hatched, and communicated, by 0550: be ready to get going by 0615, heading west. Whilst a sortie as far west as Stapleton, Nebraska, was deemed possible, the initial plan was to head for Grand Island, and re-assess once there.

Lightning flickered away to the east as we walked out the hotel - a stunning early morning sight! We hit the road, and were at Grand Island in little over an hour and a half. We paused for strong coffee, a bite to eat, and more satellite analysis - by now we were getting much more confident that a large slice of mainly clear skies was going to be in place not far to the north-west. We set course for Ansley, and drove. Once there, we waited by a gas station for a while, before we dropped south on highway 183, and found a quiet spot on a dusty back road.

We set up at this quiet location, and I got the various of my cameras in position. Right on cue (of course!) we noticed the first tiny 'nibble' into the top right hand side of the Sun's disk - the Moon had turned up for the show!

This was cause for much excitement, with pictures being snapped, and the video recorded. We then settled in to around 45 minutes of quieter excitement, which gradually built. With about 10-15 mins to go, the sky started to take on a somewhat more 'steely' appearance - odd to describe.

With 5 minutes to go, it was still surprisingly bright, but the light began to fade quite noticeably.

One minute to go - and things escalated quickly - the north-western horizon darkened rapidly, and it felt like the sky was closing in on us. As the last vestiges of the Sun's blinding light were blocked out by the mountains on the Moon, the classic Diamond Ring effect (part 1) appeared.

This moment, as the Sun was replaced by a stark, black, 'hole', was greeted by a number of exclamations from us - what a sight to behold!

The Sun's Corona - the ethereal outer atmosphere of our nearest star, was beyond beautiful: its delicate, flowing ribbons of pale blue-grey light extended in three quite obvious strands, like stellar candyfloss around an impossibly-dark centre.

The 2 minutes and just over 30 seconds didn't fly by as quick as I thought they might - but they were still all too short. We spotted Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter during this time.

All around, a 360 degree sunrise (or sunrise colours) was present. Very soon, the north-western sky was quickly growing much lighter, and, all at once, a piercing bright spot of light appeared at the top right of the Sun - the second Diamond Ring - the corona was still visible, making this sight one of the most beautiful things my eyes have beholden. Simply stunning.

The sky grew light - but it was cool - or at least, it felt cool compared to the searing sunshine we had been enduring a bit earlier. The crickets chirped loudly in the ethereal light - but the light continued to grow brighter - and within 10 minutes, the strong heating of the Sun was back.

The minutes after totality were charged with emotion - hugs all round, and more than one tear in the eye.

We watched the Sun continue to appear over the next 30 mins or so, packing away as we did so. We then drove south - but paused to catch final contact - as the Moon departed the scene, having cast its magnificent spectacle.

We headed south to the Interstate (I-80) and got some lunch - before heading back to Lincoln.

We headed to Applebee's for dinner, and then back to the hotel. Lightning played along the northern horizon. This gave a somewhat circular fashion to the day as it ended how it started - and very fitting, as the day was dominated by circular forms and motions.

Wow.

First contact - Moon nibbles top right of Sun.


About half-way through the first partial phase.

The Sun gets blocked - apart from a small part shining through a valley - the first Diamond Ring.


The eclipse, and stunning corona.



Go-Pro image, with Helen pointing.



Go Pro image, near the end of totality. 





Vid cam captures - showing red prominences. 



   
The video camera captures the second Diamond Ring.

 Diamond Ring.



Monday, 21 August 2017

August 20th

Hello.

Today was a positioning and meeting-up day. We drove east to Lincoln from York, which was under an hour's journey, and met up with Dad, my brother Richard, and his partner, Ann. This is in preparation for tomorrow's total solar eclipse, something I've been waiting many years for! More in a moment.

We met at the hotel, and then headed for a spot of lunch. We then went back to the motel and checked in, before heading out into Lincoln. We wanted to visit the Museum of Speed, but it was closed on Sundays. We then headed to a very popular ice cream parlour, Ivanna Cone. It was busy, but the ice cream was very good! We had a look around the area of Lincoln it was in, which was around the old station - very nice.

We headed back to the motel, had a swim, and then went out for dinner. This was followed by a round of mini golf - more details on Richard and Ann's blog - http://annandrichardsamericanadventure.blogspot.com/

We then headed back to the motel and had a planning session ahead of tomorrow's eclipse - basically it looks like quite a bit of high cloud will be spreading into the area later tonight and through tomorrow, so we need to determine where to go. Currently, it looks like a jaunt west into central Nebraska might be required - we will decide this before 6am, and if needed, we will leave at around 6am. Given the excitement and nervousness about this - I'm not sure how easily I'll sleep!


Sunday, 20 August 2017

August 19th

Hello.

We drove from North Platte westwards to Ogallala, and waited for quite a while for a weak storm out west to amble towards us. In the end it arrived, and got a bit stronger - we found some hail close to 1 inch in diameter before the storm weakened. We then headed east and saw a huge storm to our north - it was too far away to get to, really, so we observed it at sunset looking very nice.

We are now in York, Nebraska - thunderstorms are all around at the moment.

Tomorrow we have to look closely at the cloud predictions for Monday to see what to do about the eclipse - there is a lot of uncertainty as sub-tropical moisture moves northwards towards the area, perhaps bringing quite a bit of mid and upper cloud.

A left split storm south of Ogallala, Nebraska - it produced hail 0.75 to 1 inch in diameter.

A view of the left split as it got closer.

 A monster supercell in central Nebraska - too far to intercept in the end, but it looked very cool at sunset.

Another view of the monster supercell at sunset, with a nice patch of old anvil cirrus too.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Aug 18th

Hello.

We drove from Hays, Kansas, to North Platte, Nebraska, today. There is the chance of a few storms around here tomorrow.

We popped to the Golden Spike in North Platte...it's an observation tower overlooking the railway marshalling yard, said to be the biggest such yard in the world. There were hundreds of railway wagons and locomotives...impressive sight! Will put a few pics up tomorrow.

After dinner I went to the pool...Helen is asleep now.

Friday, 18 August 2017

August 17th - Driving and storms

Hello.

We decided that we would chance our luck with a long haul westward today, for the chance of a few storms in western Kansas.

Thus, we basically drove from central Missouri to western Kansas, which took quite a bit of the day. We arrived in Oakley towards early evening, with storms starting to fire to the NW, across in far NE Colorado and adjacent SW Nebraska.

A few of these were severe warned, and they congregated into a line. A few other storms were in eastern Colorado, and these pushed an outflow boundary eastwards into western Kansas. We headed NW to Colby, and then northwards, observing the south-western end of the line of storms to our north-west. We stopped and watched these for quite a while - they didn't produce a huge amount of visible lightning, but had quite a nice structure. Meanwhile, other storms formed about 50 miles to our south, and as the sun set, these were picked out on glorious shades of reds and oranges.

As it got dark, we decided to head to Hays for the night - the drive was illuminated by frequent flashes of lightning from the two clusters of storms - these then merged somewhat and moved over Hays, just as we walked over to the IHOP for dinner.

It was a long day of driving, but worth it for the storms - it was quite odd to be back in Kansas just 3 months after our last visit - and even more so because our room in Hays is the same one we had back in early June! Mileage today was around 620 miles!

Trying out my solar filter - picked out a few sunspots - this is a cropped image.

Tail-end of a line of storms - looking NW from a point around 10 miles north of Colby, Kansas.

Storm to our south - taken north of Colby, Kansas.

Nice outflow feature - north of Colby, Kansas.

Not many CGs from this storm - so managed a bit of CC lightning.

From our hotel window in Hays, Kansas - hand-held, poorly set-up, rushed-job, but got a CG!

Helen got this on her iPhone - north of Colby, Kansas. My watermark/copyright is on simply because I tweaked it a bit in Lightroom and then when I exported it, it automatically put it on!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Aug 16th - driving

Hello.

We decided to try to find a thunderstorm today. We drove SW from Chicago through heavy traffic down towards Springfield. We did see some very weak lightning activity. We decided we wanted to head into western Kansas tomorrow (probably!) so we thought we'd get some of the driving out of the way. We continued on to Columbia, Missouri, passing through some more energetic thunderstorms...saw some good lightning but didn't get a chance to stop for pics, etc, as the rain commenced quite quickly. We headed to Applebee's for dinner.

We're staying at Stoney Creek Hotel...it's a bit different from our usual fare, but quite decent. It's rather like a kind of lodge, with lots of wooden bits around. We have a balcony...I imagine I'll take a pic from it in the morning.

Today's mileage was around 450.