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A Bite Out Of The Sun...

June 10, 2002...

Comments: They said it couldn't be done from Ohio. The maps said it wasn't going to happen here. But the numbers? Ah! The numbers never lie, do they?

All I needed was a clear horizon.

And that was as tall an order as a ship and a star to steer it by! Ohio's ninety plus days means chances are slim that you're going to get sky around the five to seven degree area. But you know what? I truly am one of the most patient people you know... And I firmly believe that if opportunity knocks?

You gotta' be there to answer the door.

Off to the hill. It overlooks Owl Creek and the surrounding flat lands in a very quiet fashion. Actually, I suppose some would call it a knoll... And they'd be right. But here on the plains, anything slightly higher than a house qualifies. I set up the Celestron with the solar filter over a half hour in advance. When shadows are long, it's not easy to aim using my fashion, and I didn't want to stress the situation out by waiting until the last second. Hey... I even polar aligned! (now, ain't you proud of me? ;) For I could somehow see myself at the eyepiece when the "play" ran out. Horizon found. Sun in eyepiece. Camera charged. I am ready.

Do you know how l o n g thirty minutes can seem when you're waiting?! I kept tracking the Sun and talking to the Canadian geese I tried to kill the other day. (they've quite forgiven me, cor... ;) I kept my back to the west, so I'd resist temptation to look directly at the Sun... And even more so, because I didn't want to see those clouds wafting in. A look at the watch. A look at the eyepiece. A glance at the sky....

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

The minutes crawl by... And the clouds push on. I sample the Sun through the camera... and find out that not enough light passes through at sunset to show through the telescope and solar filter. Oh, man... My heart fell. Picking up the camera, I tried capturing the image straight through the filter. Again, a "no go".... Tick, tock. Three minutes to go....

A band of cloud passed over the Sun, while I capped up the 4.5... They were right. I'll never see it from here. Oh, well... Huh? Easy come... Easy go...

And then the door opened.

Dropping stately down through the bright orange clouds was an even brighter white Sol... With a "bite" taken out of the edge!

Ah, now... How is it I knew you could never disappoint me?

I shouldn't have been looking at it naked eye... But I did. My own repeated lessons to others have been abandoned in the joy of the moment. But, neither am I a fool. (arguable point, here...) Holding the camera directly in front of the Sun, I watched through the LCD screen as it blazed its' image onto the film... And as the clouds softly veiled it?

I looked again.

Magnified by the atmosphere, the huge disc of Sol did its' very best to defy the atmosphere. I cannot describe how very beautiful it looked. Deep orange, almost hurting the eye. Tendrils of smoke blown across its' face... And a brilliant horned edge would show briefly through the grey...

And then it kissed the trees...

Did I chase it? You know I did. Like someone you don't want to leave behind, but know you must. Laughing and running down the hillside along the edge of the field where the new shoots of corn stick up their brave green fingers. I ran after that cinnamon disc with the bite taken out of it. Watching it turn dustier and darker as it fell into that final horizon.... Smiling and waving...

Sending the chakra west.

"This is how you remind me of what I really am."


~theAstronmer