Wyoming Solar Eclipse

Wyoming Solar Eclipse.  August 21, 2017.  We knew the crowds would be large, we knew the traffic would be bad, but we had to go anyway…it was just too close to miss.  August 21st brought the total solar eclipse through the middle of Wyoming.  My sister, dad and I decided to witness it first hand.

Wyoming Eclipse

My family stayed with my folks that weekend, they live on the Colorado side of the Wyoming border up near Red Feather Lakes.  The plan was for my sister to come up and meet my dad and I near the Wyoming border on 287.  We’d carpool from there.  The target was south of Casper on BLM land, staying clear of the I-25 corridor.  There we’d be in the center of the shadow for the longest totality without the crowds.

We drove on Wyoming 487 and there was a good amount of traffic so we jumped off onto Wyoming 77 and was just looking for a nice spot with a good view.  Just so happened we hit the Shirley Ridge which had an amazing 360 view, and only two other cars were there.  We got there a couple of hours early.

Eclipse Roadtrip Map

Here was our target area. We jetted over to 77 once we realized the popularity of 487.

Since we were early, we set up our cameras and then I started wandering around looking at rocks.  There were agates and jaspers laying everywhere!  Cool.  So a rock hound and celestial road trip together!  Can’t beat that!

Shirley Basin Agates and Jaspers

Agates and Jaspers were everywhere.

For the photography buffs out these, here was my setup.  I had a Sony Alpha with 2x teleconverter and 70-200mm lens zoomed.  That gives me 400mm, and then I used APS-C mode on the camera to give me another boost to 600mm.  My dad had purchased a solar viewing film and I had that taped on the lens hood with painters tape to not leave residue.  All of this was on a tripod which was a lot of weight, but luckily the mirrorless cameras are light in comparison and it didn’t get too windy so I felt we were safe.

Photography Setup

The setup, my Sony Alpha (covered with a cloth to prevent overheating in the direct sun) with a solar filter taped to the hood.  On the screen it shows a picture of the eclipse at about 75%.

My plan was to take pictures every 3 minutes both coming into and leaving the eclipse and then during totality I would remove the lens hood, refocus, and take shots at different settings to capture all the different features of the totality.  All of this worked except one thing, I realized about half way into the waning of the eclipse that I was out of focus.  I didn’t realize that my focal point was the film several inches off of the end of the lens (affixed to the lens hood).  So I didn’t focus correctly getting many of the waning shots.  Oh well, rookie mistake.

taken from mreclipse.com

Taken from the Mr. Eclipse article on photographing eclipses, this is an amazing article that everyone interested should read!

Leading up to the totality the birds and crickets started to sing and make noise as if it was dusk.  There were no trees so we didn’t see the kaleidoscopic effect that others saw which would have been amazing.  It also got considerably cooler, fast, and the winds started to blow adding to the chill factor.

Start of Eclipse Chill Out

My dad Alex and sister Kristy chilling out as the Eclipse was starting.  You can see all the people that got at this site after we did; but we were all very comfortably spaced out.

During totality it was a scramble, I was taking many shots with different settings per Mr. Eclipse‘s chart above and then I sat the camera down and just observed.  What was cool was the 360 degree view we had, and the 360 degree color spanning the horizon!

Solar Eclipse moon shadow

During totality, looking NE towards Casper-ish. You can see the shadow of the moon in the clouds! That was really one of the coolest things about the eclipse is watching the shadow progress across the horizon.

Sun before the eclipse started

Here is the sun at the start of the eclipse. You can see some spots.

Final picture before totality

Here is one of the last shots I took before removing the lens hood with the filter affixed. From the next several minutes I explored different settings and took a bunch of pictures. Focus was a bit of a challenge as infinity was blurry.

Solar Eclipse corona

Here is a picture of the corona. Taken at f/8, 1/80 sec, ISO-100 at 600mm.

Final picture total totality

This was the last picture I took without the filter. f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO-100 @600mm.

Diamond Ring Solar Eclipse Totality

Here is the “diamond ring” feature of the totality. I’m pretty satisfied how this one turned out!

Chalk Cliffs, Shirley Basin, Wyoming

Here were the chalk cliffs which was the only feature on the horizon that is on google maps.

The trip home wasn’t too bad, although there was about an hour backup on 487 because of the stop sign in Medicine Bow at US 287.  But the state troopers had that engineered well and traffic slowly flowed through and no-one had to completely stop.

You can see the line of cars, looks like ants, on the horizon. This was no where near as bad as I-25 was. Good choice to my sister and dad on this route!

horny toad

We found this little horny toad lizard wondering around.

Road Trip 2015 – Eastern Leg

This summer we did the “Road Trip Vacation” with the kids in our new car.  Now that the kids are old enough to remember we visited many of our national treasures.  We started off by visiting the Oregon Trail Ruts National Historic Landmark in Guernsey, Wyoming.  This is a neat little site that is amazing to see how the metal wheels of the wagons cut down into the sandstone.  Many many families looked for a new life homesteading the “wild west” in the 1800’s.

Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site

Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site

Cool old tree with me and the kids.

Cool old tree with me and the kids.

Oregon Trail Ruts

Oregon Trail Ruts

Cool old tree at Oregan Trail Ruts

Cool old tree at Oregon Trail Ruts

Our destination for the first night was Keystone South Dakota to see both rock art features, Crazy Horse Memorial Monument and Mount Rushmore!

Crazy Horse Memorial Gate

Gate at Crazy Horse Memorial plus Daphne howling at the moon

Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse Monument

David Humphreys Miller

Henry Little Soldier by David Humphreys Miller

Woody Crumble

Woody Crumble’s Spirit Horse

Down the road from Crazy Horse was Mount Rushmore.  We ended up there after dinner time and it was sprinkling and overcast.  Made for a really neat view with some awesome lightning overhead for a little while!  Saw these very tiny Mountain Goats on the way into the park as a bonus!

Mountain Goat

Mini Mountain Goat baby at Mount Rushmore

Rushmore Mountain Goats

Mount Rushmore Mountain Goats

Rushmore baby mountain goat

Rushmore baby mountain goat

Mini Mountain Goat family at Mount Rushmore

Mini Mountain Goat family at Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore lightning

Mount Rushmore lightning

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Washington's Looking at You

Washington’s Looking at You

Turkey Vultures

Mount Rushmore Turkey Vultures

Mount Rushmore lightning

Mount Rushmore lightning

Keystone South Dakota was a cool little town with a quaint downtown with 2 rock shops. Only one was open, however.  There was an amazing antique / thrift shop with a bunch of unique stuff and a friendly shop keeper, and an interesting sign downtown…

Surgeon Supplies

Surgeon supplies documented on a sign in downtown Keystone, SD

Rock Shop Fence

Awesome fence at the closed rock shop.

The next day we headed to Sturgeon for lunch and then to Devil’s Tower and eventually to Buffalo to stay the night…see the next post for more about the second leg of 4 of our adventure!