The Starry Night, 253
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The 2017 Eclipse (only six years late)
I drove to Dubois, Wyoming, stayed a night regrouping at the Twin Pines Motel on the west side of downtown, then drove west to the intersection of the Union Pass Road with Highway 26. That perfectly fine gravel road winds up through metropolitan Dunoir and on to just about treeline at a triple point in the Wind River Mountains. I had considered hiking in from a point a little east of there to an overlook above a high lake in a glacial cwm, but I found the prospect of a heart attack far more daunting than this good road. I camped in the pass for a couple of nights -- parked the Honda, that is -- with the next two views in my windshield.
Click any image for a better view.
Brilliant starfields at night ended with lovely moon- and sunrises like this one. I walked a few hundred feet northeast of the car to get an unobstructed view.
In the evening, lenticular clouds tattered in the twilight over the Wind Rivers. By day, I walked east up dry streambeds in thin soil lined with smooth stones worn by bigger rivers at lower altitudes: the Laramide Orogeny made plain to see. On the way back down one dry watercourse, I stopped to pick up a crow feather. An antelope in full flight crashed out of the woods to my right, cleared the cleft through which I was descending without breaking stride just a hundred feet or so in front of me and disappeared into thinner woods to the left, all at flank speed, carried with unchanging velocity from one horizon of my awareness to the other. When the antelope exploded from the treeline, I thought a bear might be in hot pursuit, but not so.
A late-arriving camper drove on to the crest of the Union Pass Road. I preferred my slightly lower camp with the meadow, relative solitude, and the eye-level view of the Absarokas.
Moonrise the day before the eclipse, 30 hours to go. This was my cue to descend to what I expected would be more reliably clear skies. I was guided by a year-long time-lapse I constructed using images from a webcam at the foot of the road, at the service center beside US26. The sky almost always clouded over as eclipse time drew near. I left. As it happens, I missed a total eclipse in a crystal clear sky about 11,000 feet above sea level. It was still an excellent show from down in the lowlands, still well over a mile above the sea.
The Absarokas just after dawn -- more specifically, The Ramshorn -- the same vantage as the webcam whose images convinced me not to watch from the Pass.
US26. I can see another car. This is heavy traffic in Wyoming.
Coffee shop in Riverton.
From Riverton, take the Gas Hills Road east, turn north on Muskrat Road, west on Nebo Road, and north again at the first intersection where some prairie artist, a rancher, has erected this minimalist sculpture in wood and wire.
Second contact. Canon 6D, TMB92SS.
Toltality. A modest HDR using 1/15 and 1/1000 second exposures.
Seconds before totality's end: stacked video frames from the 300mm Nikkor / Canon-M combination running Magic Lantern firmware.
A 5D Classic and 14mm Rokinon provide context. Six frames stacked to control noise in the shadowed foreground. If you make none of the others big, click to enlarge this one. The white page surrounding it do it no good at all.
Your's truly. A frame grab from an iPhone video. Note the Wind River Range in the distance. They appeared just before totality and disappeared afterward as the shadow of the Moon fell between here and there and darkened the smoke from distant fires suspended in the intervening air.
Approaching Muddy Gap as I have never seen it and will never see it again. I have been through this area several times over the years, and this is the only time I have ever seen more than three or four cars in that expansive landscape. Zero is the more typical census. This is still some miles (like maybe six) from the intersection seen in the photo which follows this one.
Hang a right at Muddy Gap and cruise on down to Laramie, thence east to North Carolina.
Here are the 2nd and 3rd contacts in realtime with totality in between sped up by a factor of about 8x: https://vimeo.com/231815006
Or, if you prefer your timelapse straight: https://vimeo.com/231804708
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