Our Eclipse Day Adventure

August 21, 2017. The day had arrived!

The eclipsolunatics arose before the Sun, dressed, and descended to the feeding area. In case you didn’t notice, we added a fourth while we were in Wichita. Our niece/cousin (in pink) who had some free time to spend with us before school started.

My white version of the eclipsolunatic shirt touts the 7/11/1991 eclipse

When we stepped out of the hotel at the crack of dawn, the worry seemed to drain away. You could see an eclipse in this weather.

It wasn’t perfectly clear, maybe a little hazy, but not bad at all
Eclipse day

We were on the road from Kansas City, MO to St. Joseph, MO as the Sun came up. A trek of 30 miles. More signs heralded the event.

St. Joseph is only a few exits away. You could walk to the centerline from here
The journey is almost over! I hope the spot we picked is still available
No traffic! That’s a relief! It sure does look cloudy up here
N39.780147° W94.786578°

By 7:00AM, we’d made it to the viewing site. No crowds. No traffic jams. The sun is shining. Why are we here so early?

The spot I’d picked was the parking lot of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. I’d e-mailed ahead to ask permission to use a few slots. I’d received the green light from Steve K. (facilities) and Fr. Christian.

We found a Red Cross trailer on the lot and used it as one of the walls for our shelter

I heard later, the trailer was a pre-staged advance preparation in case there was a disaster in the area during the time frame of the eclipse.

We started setting up, and then I realized the church patrons were arriving for daily 8AM Mass. I’m not sure how I missed the timing of that on the website, but I started to realize we had the time to attend, and it was the right thing to do. There was still a go/no-go decision to be made about staying at this spot, but it was too early to make the decision. 10:00 was the right time. We paused our set up and went in.


When we came back out, we realized it had rained. Nothing but the tent and the vehicles got wet. The sun continued to shine, and we decided to continue our set up.

10:00AM. I set up the telescope and attached the camera

I connected the inverter to the car battery and set up the 24” computer monitor and hood. The family devoured “eclipse nuts”. Those are annular dough cakes covered with powdered sugar or chocolate icing. You can get them in packs of 6 at the gas station. If you take a bite out of one it looks like an eclipse. You see, there is more than one kind of eclipse nut. Our boy kept himself entertained with a little Hot Wheels track fun. He took the time to video his setup and luckily got this shot of the nearly completed observatory.

8/21/2017 11:50AM N39.514919° W94.787881° Near Dearborn, MO

Hey, wait! This isn’t where where were at 10:00AM. What happened?

Well, at 10:15 as I was completing the last steps of the set up, I looked to the South West, and saw rain heading our way. Looking at the radar, I realized we were in the path for an extended shower that might soak our plans. We decided to pack all the eclipse gear in the SUV, all the other stuff in the car, and try to scoot out from under the downpour in the SUV, leaving the car. We were packed in about 20 minutes and nothing was damaged by the rain that started.

We needed two adults in the SUV. One to drive and one to navigate away from the clouds. We found a hole in the clouds and pulled off the highway. A commuter lot just happened to be at the exit we tried, and there were still parking spots available. Everyone else that was there was doing the same thing.

Did our plans change? You bet they did. Plan B was in place. The continuous chance for rain meant that we wouldn’t risk setting up the scope or shade tent for the rest of the day. We had to stay agile and mobile chasing the holes in the clouds.

This shot was taken from some accidental video and shows the rain falling right across I-29

We got to see the first of the partial phases here. We missed first contact (C1) by just a few minutes. We did get to see a small bite here. The sunspots were evident in the binocular image.

The hole we were under closed just a few minutes later. We were the first to abandon this spot, and we moved on, following the hole to the north east.

The cloud cover was not easy to predict. There were two layers moving in different directions. Following one hole didn’t always result in a clearer sky.

8/21/2017 12:55PM N39.571806° W94.684278° Near Faucett, MO

With plan B still under way, we chased the holes in the clouds. Two layers of clouds made it impossible to use the news radar for anything but avoiding the huge cells. We sought out light spots and chased them down the back roads. We moved East on State Route [H] to the intersection of [H], [Z], and [Y]. North on [Y] to (116). (116) to [E]. Man oh man. It’s getting dark. It’s only 15 minutes to totality. We need to stop. Every place around has the purple fencepost markings indicating no trespassing. Don’t park there. OK, right here. We have a triangle between the roads. The middle must be county property. Stop here. Draw the line in the sand, and hope the clouds give us a hole.

We were at the South side of the triangle at [E] and [DD].

Have you seen this fellow? Stay well clear of him. That’s an eclipsolunatic. Do not get between him and his prey.

N39.571806° W94.684278° Near Faucett, MO
We’re all here in the SUV. We’re playing the waiting game.

When the rain stops, we can get out and use our glasses, binoculars, and cameras. When it’s raining we can look through the windows and stay dry.

A bright boy realizes we can use the sunroof to look at the eclipse: “That’s why they call them sunroofs!”

A smile? Eclipse chasing might be fun.

The guy in the front seat is too busy to notice. At least we have snacks.

There are alpacas watching us from the fence line back there.

Are we going to see anything other than it just getting dark? Partial phases? Totality? Corona? Prominences? What about all that other cool stuff I told everyone about? I just don’t know.

Camera Model: NIKON D7100
Original Date/Time: 2017-08-21T12:45:28.1
Exposure Time: 1/3200
Shutter Speed: 1/3200.00
Aperture: 6.00
F-stop: f/8.0
ISO Speed: 1000
Lens: 70.0-300.0 mm f/4.0-5.6
Focal Length: 250.00

Once we were parked, and a hole “opened” (I use the term loosely), I was able to take a few shots through the windshield with the D7100. The filter was cutting out too much light, so I did the unthinkable. Don’t look! Too late. Eclipsolunatics are fast and loose. I wanted closer (300mm) and tighter (focus) on this one. Totality is about 20 minutes away. Hand held.

Camera Model: NIKON D7100
Original Date/Time: 2017-08-21T12:58:44.4
Exposure Time: 1/20
Shutter Speed: 1/20.00
Aperture: 4.53
F-stop: f/4.8
ISO Speed: 1000
Lens: 70.0-300.0 mm f/4.0-5.6
Focal Length: 210.00

The next hole that opened let more sunlight through. I used the DIY filter with the Thousand Oaks Black-Silver Polymer here. I was also able to stand outside the SUV. Less than 10 minutes to go. Hand held, leaning against the SUV.

Time to Start the GoPro

The video is here.

The rain let up! Just a few minutes left. The clouds have cleared. Everybody out!
(still frame from GoPro video)
Another eclipse chaser arrives behind us
(still frame from GoPro video)
Look! a hole in clouds!
(still frame from GoPro video)
Look! a hole in clouds!
(still frame from GoPro video)
It’s starting to get dark! The clouds were pretty thick. We didn’t need the glasses at this point.
(still frame from GoPro video)

These three photos are the money shots. They’re still frames from the GoPro video. I can’t even believe we could see it. The clouds parted just enough. It was still amazing. In the video you can hear us say so.

This one is the diamond ring
Mid eclipse. You can discern the corona through the clouds.
Maybe the diamond ring, maybe just a hole to let more of the corona light through.

I didn’t have the D7100 or telescope out on a tripod due to the nearby rain. The GoPro video is what we ended up with.

Looking North to the rain that passed us.
Looking NW at rain and the day rushing in.

Our son took these three stills of totality on or Samsung Tab-E. I cropped them to 16:9.

Looking at the exiting partial phases. Back to the “weeny sliver”. That’s a technical term used by eclipsolunatics.
A post totality panorama of the site

The photo is blown out some. The white is not blue sky. Just lighter grey. He’s playing with a fallen sign that said “Backwoods ->”.

New family tradition? Eclipsewiches. We were starving after that chase. It’s raining.

We ended our chase of holes in the cloud cover and headed back north to St. Joseph to get the car. Lots of traffic was going South to Kansas City. The flow leaving the centerline went on for hours.

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