Dear KcyOming Total Solar Eclipse Tour Participants,
The following is from Bruce Bohannan, the Astronomer-at-Large of Kcymaerxthaere who worked patiently with me (sometimes more patiently than I deserved) on the creation of the site in Shoshoni. From the start of working with Bruce, I have been struck by his insistence on accepting the impossibility of capturing the eclipse and instead celebrating the privilege of experiencing it—an attitude very much in the spirit of Kcymaerxthaere. Mark and I thought there was no better set of thoughts for us all to read as the hours tick closer to our trip.
At the end of Bruce's introduction, you will find an image that shows what are known as the circumstances of the eclipse at our location. This includes the precise location and times of the key milestones—and the elevation and azimuth of the Sun at those times.
Eames has invited me to join you on a journey to Kcymaerxthaere Shoshoni to experience the total eclipse of the sun on 21 August 2017. It has been my pleasure to assist him in designing the astronomical observatory for this eclipse, a once in a lifetime opportunity.
His is the third observatory I've designed and, unlike the first for the University of Colorado, it is not your conventional astronomical observatory. Its intent — like what I did for the Transit Corridor at Griffith Observatory — is to heighten your experience of a unique astronomical event. The goal is to encourage you to use your eyes — and all of your senses — without the encumbrance and/or dependence on optical aids.
While no umbraphile — this will be my third total eclipse — the most important advise I can offer you is first to experience the eclipse and then worry about recording it.
My first total eclipse in 1970 in Mexico involved making a movie of the adventure. We never really experienced that eclipse as we were so caught up in what we were doing.
My second — in 1979 in North Dakota — was total experience. I still vividly remember how as the eclipse progressed the sun sparkled through snow crystals on the ground and how as totality progressed the cows came home to be milked.
Maria Mitchell (1818 – 1889) — the first academically accredited women astronomer in the United States, who lead an all-woman expedition to the Great American Eclipse of 1878, the previous eclipse to pass through Shoshoni — offers better advise than I ever could,
“You will see Nature as you never saw it before – it will neither be day nor night – open your senses to all the revelations. Let your eyes take note of the colors of Earth and Sky. Observe the tint of the Sun. Look for a gleam of light in the horizon. Notice the color of the foliage. Use another sense – notice if flowers give forth the odors of evening. Listen if the animals show signs of fear – if the dog barks – if the owl shrieks – if the birds cease to sing – if the bee ceases its hum – if the butterfly stops its flight – it is said that even the ant pauses with its burden and no longer gives the lesson to the sluggard.”
For more advise from Maria Mitchell on experiencing eclipses, see her tips collected in
Should you give in to the temptation to record the eclipse in any of its stages, my advise is the same as given by a little old lady on the streets of New York City on how one gets to Carnegie Hall.
The WWW is full of cautions about observing the eclipse. Heed them all as your eyes are not to be trifled with.
Eames has passed along my suggestions of good reads to put the Great American Eclipse of 2017 in perspective. In a few days I'll send him choice words on eclipse phases and stages.
One last bit of advise and one that I've harangued Eames about from the beginning. The sun waits for no man or woman, not even a Geographer at Large. At Kcymaerxthaere Shoshoni, first contact is at 10:19 MDT (UTC-6) and totality begins at 11:39. Please see the attached circumstances. At least for this eclipse I'll have a time-piece that will tell accurate time. My intent though is to experience first and last contacts as well as every one of the 142 seconds of totality.