On 21 August 2017 the first Total Solar Eclipse to touch the contiguous United States since 26 February 1979. In addition, this was an eclipse whose path of totality stretched across the entire width of America, from the coast of Oregon to South Carolina: the first such eclipse since 8 June 1918. Research showed that the spot expected to have the best chance of clear weather was located in Madras, Oregon, so this was our goal. Planning for this eclipse took place over more than 3 years, with the first emphasis being on securing a hotel location. After two months of cajoling, I was able to get the manager of the Econo Lodge Inn & Suites Madras Chateau Inn to open up reservations in the early Fall of 2014. With the word going out, the rooms booked up very fast, with the initial contingent selling out in just 6 days! Many of those rooms were taken by friends of ours from previous eclipses, and others from the Orange County Space Society.


Panic set in as rumors started about lack of gas and food throughout Oregon during the days leading up to the eclipse. In the end, there were probably a couple of hundred thousand people in the Madras area specifically on eclipse day, but all the services remained open, and everyone could not have been in a better spot.


Immediately following the eclipse, both US Route-26 and US-97, the only highways into and out of Madras, came to a complete halt as people tried to leave town. Our plans kept us in Madras until the following day, so we enjoyed watching the spectacle of the packed roads, literally on either side of the hotel. When we did leave on 22 August, we ran into some heavier than normal traffic, but it was nothing really that slowed us down at all.


This was all a part of a bigger trip that was organized around the total solar eclipse, with us being gone a total of 20 days. We visited 6 volcanos (Lassen Peak, Mt Shasta, Crater Lake, Mt Hood, Mt Rainier, and Mt St Helens), and I was able to do my X-15 talk at the Museum of Flight in Seattle on Saturday, 26 August. It was a memorable trip, with the eclipse being the highlight. Cherie and I have been in the path of totality now for 14 minutes 56.6 seconds over four total solar eclipses. We look forward to the next total solar eclipse, perhaps 8 April 2024, which should hopefully put our accumulated time to nearly 20 minutes!

The total solar eclipse sequence as seen from Madras, Oregon.

(All times are Pacific Daylight Time. Photos taken in visible light with 500mm Nikkor lens and homemade Tri-X film solar filter.)

09:06:45.71st Contact.

The Moon's limb is at the upper right.


09:34 — Note that a set of three sunspots near the solar center are disappearing.




10:14 — A second set of sunspots, near the lower solar limb are disappearing.


Diamond Ring.

Baily's Beads.

10:19:35.32nd Contact. Totality!

Solar Prominences and Photosphere are visible.

** The Solar Corona **

Longer exposures capture more of the extent of the corona. At left is a short exposure showing the inner corona, while longer exposures, such as below left and at right, reveal more of the outer corona.

Maximum Solar Corona that I was able to capture on my equipment.

Possibly even a hint of Earthlight can be seen highlighting the dark side of the lunar surface.

A magnificent sight never to be forgotten.

10:21:38.6 — 3rd Contact.

Exit Diamond Ring.




11:41:02.5 — 4th Contact.

The last vestige of the Moon's shadow is at the lower left. The eclipse is over!