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  • Mel Hulbert

Texas Ranch Eclipse

This morning, we awoke to grey clouds from horizon to horizon. Toner, Ron and I along with the other participants of the Astro Trails eclipse tour departed early for the Heart of Texas Equestrian Academy to avoid any possible traffic and were greeted by Jennifer and her team on horseback at the gates of the Academy. The warm welcome we received lifted everyone’s spirits and the hopes of seeing the eclipse.

 

As the morning wore on gaps started to appear in the clouds and blue sky was visible. Would it continue to improve for the eclipse or would we see grey clouds for the duration?

First contact was at 12:20pm local time and while it had been clear minutes before, a cloud passed over the Sun, however it soon moved on and we were soon seeing the Moon move slowly across the Sun. There were two groups of sunspots making the partial phases more interesting as the Moon slowly progressed across the Sun’s disk, covering the sunspots.

Ron was making temperature measurements at interval prior and throughout the eclipse and gave us a countdown to totality.

 

With about 20 minutes to go, the light started changing, taking on the beautiful golden hie I’ve only ever seen during a solar eclipse. About ten minutes from second contact and the start of totality a large dense cloud moved in over the Sun, and we were wondering if we would see the brilliant diamond ring that would herald the start of totality or would we miss it and totality entirely?


Perhaps the collective will-power of 250 people helped, and the cloud moved off, with less than a minute to totality. 1:37pm was heralded by the brilliant diamond ring, and we were plunged into a twilight darkness. The cooling of the atmosphere helped keep the clouds at bay as the skies overhead started to clear. Prominences were visible along the edge and cheers were heard across the paddock as a small yet spectacular pearly white corona was visible. It had an interesting shape, with some structure visible in the raw, unprocessed images which seemed to vary from the predicted corona though there was some light wispy cloud present during totality which would have affected the visual (and photographic) appearance of the corona. 4 minutes 24 seconds of totality allowed time to look around and immerse yourself in totality. As the moon continued to cross the Sun’s disk, prominences became visible on the other side of the Sun, larger and mor intricate than the previous ones. All too soon, the second diamond ring announced the end of totality and we were plunged into light once more.


The clear skies remained until 3:00pm when the Moon completed its transit of the Sun. On the bus journey back to our hotel the blue skies disappeared and by 5:30pm rain was starting to fall. We were extremely fortunate that the weather held for us. So, how does this eclipse rate? That’s a difficult question, every one is unique and different and that is what makes each one so special. It is an immersive experience as the light changes, the birds and animals go quiet and the world is plunged into a twilight darkness. There is nothing else like it and my 11th totality was just as amazing as the past ten.


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