Sky Events

2017 Eclipse: Naglers in Nashville, TN!

Observers point at first contact in front of the Tele Vue tent. David Nagler is third from left in green.

If ever there was an event that bound together every living thing on this planet, the disappearance of the Sun during broad daylight reminds us of just how reliant, fragile and connected we are. To be able to share the emotions of that special moment with others reminds us that all the moments we share are special.

Sandy Nagler views the eclipse through solar glasses while others employ the Tele Vue TV-60 with a white-light filter.

The plan was for my wife (and Tele Vue V.P.) Sandy and I to travel to Nashville, TN with three friends from the Chester, NY area: Frank, Bill and Michele. The thought was that if we were weathered out of seeing the eclipse, at least there were other forms of entertainment around that might make us forget about the bad luck. We were lucky to get a time-share apartment big enough for all of us well in advance. Then our party grew. Sandy’s high school friend and sometime amateur astronomer, Mike lives two-hours away in Huntsville, so it was a natural to invite him and his romance novelist wife Lynn up, but at a price. His admission ticket was his exquisite BBQ brisket and pulled pork which he gladly agreed to do for us. Then I learned my friend and telescope builder extraordinaire (we’re talking Stellafane winning, home-made 32”, computer controlled Dob and I mean “home-made” as in mirror and all!) John was flying in to Nashville the morning of the eclipse, renting a car and driving on to Memphis after. A visit to Memphis was the only way his wife Eileen would agree to accompany him! Since our place was 15 or so minutes from the airport, they were in. There were threats of cousins and other friends joining, but none materialized.

Great North American Eclipse cookie.

We didn’t have to worry about others coming along to join us. As the eclipse approached, we had new friends gravitate to the equipment poking out of our EZ Up tent. They came from various parts of the south, California, Massachusetts, and even a young family from Germany. Believe it or not, there was one group of vacationers who approached us and asked what we were doing. They had no idea of what they were about to witness.

The anticipation, nervousness, excitement, all emotions were off the charts as we reached first contact with a clear view. After that first nibble, however, a large cloud obscured the sun beyond even the reach of the telescopes. At least we had seen that milestone. The only solace were frosty beverages waiting within our air-conditioned apartment as we hoped for any hint of brightening outside.

Tele Vue TV-60 telescope with Sol-Searcher solar-finder on Tele-Pod mount. Top: with PowerMate amplifier and Daystar hydrogen-α setup. Bottom: with DeLite eyepiece. Many ohhs and ahhs on our Nashville eclipse video were from views through this scope.

The Sun had been putting on a show for us prior to the Moon intervening. Using a white light filter, everyone was treated to beautiful sunspots looking like a string of islands across an orange sea. In a second Tele Vue-60, with all but the Hydrogen alpha wavelength of light blocked by the Daystar Quark, the details of the chromosphere, a lovely arching prominence, plus some smaller bursts brought the Sun to life. The four amateur astronomers among our group realized what a treat it was to have such activity as a warm-up act to the main event. While the others getting their first looks at the Sun were amazed, they didn’t quite know the jackpot they had hit. The equipment I brought to Nashville was highlighted in a previous blog post. Mike had brought a pair of white light filtered, 7×50 binoculars on a convenient parallelogram mount.

Image taken through Tele Vue TV-60 telescope with iPhone using our FoneMate adapter and DeLite eyepiece. Moon closing in on sunspot group on the sun.

With what seemed like an eternity, but really wasn’t long at all, the cloud eclipsing our eclipse had moved on. We again had a clear view of the Moon slowly eating away at the Sun’s brilliance. The sky was looking great for quite a while. We thought we were home free, but then within just a few minutes of totality, a large cloud moved in and obliterated the sun. There was clear sky around but this pesky cloud just hovered, its density thickening and diminishing…just teasing us.

So, did we see totality…? Watch the video, but especially listen, and share our Nashville eclipse experience. I hope you get the sense of what a profound experience it was. To share it with our friends, just made it priceless. When it was all over, we stuffed ourselves with BBQ. Trust me, you really don’t want to see that video! LOL!!!

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