Recently back from a trip to Maryville, TN, to view the solar eclipse. We were on the campus of Maryville College, which sponsored an “event” for the occasion. I set up my camera on a tripod, donned my eclipse glasses, and spent a couple of hours staring at the sun in the 90 degree heat. Totality lasted 98 s where we were, but it seemed to go by much more quickly that that. It was spectacular. The corona was beautiful, with a very complex shape. There was a beautiful “diamond ring” as totality came to an end. I saw Venus during totality, but didn’t notice any stars. I will admit I was mostly looking at the sun and not at the rest of the sky! A wonderful sight. I saw one total eclipse before, back in 1979. That was great, too, but I think this one was more beautiful.
The solar eclipse is just a few days away. I am planning to head south (and a bit east) to observe and enjoy the event. I have a friend who teaches at a college in Kentucky. I will drive to his place on Sunday, then go with him and a busload of his students to a spot in Tennessee to view the eclipse on Monday. At present, the weather forecast is “mostly sunny”, so I am optimistic and excited. As is my style, however, I left a lot of the details rather late. I was looking around for eclipse glasses a few days ago, but it seems that most of the country is sold out! Same for a solar filter for my camera. Instead, I went to Walmart and bought a couple of aluminized plastic emergency blankets. A few layers of that, and all will be good. I’m actually a bit ambivalent about taking pictures of the eclipse. On the one hand, I claim to be a photographer, and I like to have a record of things that I do. I took pictures of the 1975 eclipse in Gimli, Manitoba that still take my breath away. On the other hand, I don’t want to spend all my time futzing around with the camera, filters, etc. I want to enjoy the beauty of the event! So, I will probably compromise – take a few pictures, but spend most of totality oohing and aahing as the sun hides behind the moon.
This week I went to the PhD examination of Jeremy Koch, one of Randy Ewoldt’s students. Jeremy’s thesis was about how air bubbles and particles move in vibrated or rapidly accelerated yield-stress fluids. Experiments on glass beads, Carbopol, and concrete. Interesting work, and Jeremy handled questions very well. It was interesting for me to see how a PhD exam works at UI. I was allowed to – and did – participate in the exam, for example, which would not be allowed at Western. Congratulations to Dr. Koch, and thanks for the champagne and cake afterwards!