John Pazmino
NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 2017 August 22 initial
 2017 August 28 current

    I viewed the 2017 August 21 total solar eclipse from my niece's 
house in Columbia, South Carolina. With me were my sister, nephew, and 
niece's children. Niece was at work and viewed the eclipse from 
downtown Columbia. She let her mother, my sister, avail of her house. 
    In early 2017 I mused about traveling to this eclipse with no 
strong exertion. I pulled from webs some maps of the eclipse path. The 
path passed near, but not over, my sister's house in South Carolina. 
This is an hour's drive, on open roads, from Columbia. 
    Looking along the path within reach of sister's I suddenly saw 
that my niece's house is not merely some where inside the totality 
band in the town. It was only 300 METERS from the eclipse centerline!! 
    Also, sister and niece visit each other frequently for assorted 
family matters. The extra round trip for the eclipse is just an other 
visit, with the bonus of seeing her THIRD total eclipse. That's right, 
she, with me and others, saw the 1970 and 1984 eclipses a short drive 
from her place. 

Eclipse plans 
    it seemed obvious that I could go to sister's place for lodging, 
since niece's house was fully occupied by  her family. I would go the 
niece in the morning of the eclipse, do the eclipse, and return to 
sister's house in late afternoon. 
    My nephew knew about the eclipse and wanted to see it. He saw the 
1970 eclipse with me and his mother from near mother's place, but he 
was then a little child. He offered to be the driver because he comes 
and goes frequently from his home to sister. 
    Just in case this plan didn't work out, I explored fall-back  plans 
to observe from public viewing sites in either Newberry or Columbia. 
Nephew would drive me and family to a site and return to sister's 
house after the eclipse. 
    The fall-back plans were not needed. Niece, in spite of absence 
for work, opened her house for us.

The trip
    Nephew lives in North Carolina near Greensboro airport. He advised 
me to fly there and he'll drive us to sister's. After the eclipse 
he'll drive back to Greensboro to drop me off at the airport and 
continue on to his home. 
    Getting tickets was surprisingly simple. American Airlines has a 
walk-in office near Grand Central Terminal. I walked over during lunch 
a few weeks before the eclipse, chatted  with the clerk, and walked 
out with round-trip tickets LaGuardia-Greensboro. it was orders more 
confident dealing across a counter with a human than pecking around 
thru a web. And I got the tickets in hand, not some printout coupon. 
    On Sunday the 20th early afternoon I rook a car service to 
LaGuardia airport from my Brooklyn home, then boarded my plane to 
Greensboro. I arrived in Greensboro in mid afternoon and met up with 
nephew. We reached sister's in late afternoon. 
    On Monday the 21st we set out for niece's. The normal one-hour 
drive took almost two hours due to heavy eclipse traffic. We spotted 
license plates from many states as far away as Vermont. We arrived at 
niece's a little before 1st contact. We observed it with eclipse 
    After the eclipse we headed back to sister's. On Tuesday morning 
the 22nd nephew took me to Greensboro airport, where I caught my flight 
to LaGuardia. I traveled from LaGuardia to home by bus and subway, 
reaching home near sunset. 

    Niece and her family live in a development of detached houses and 
large yards. She left the house keys in a secret place for sister to 
enter. Husband was when we arrived napping for his night-shift job and 
the children, two school-age boys, were doing homework or playing on 
computers. They expected their grandmother and uncles. 
     The house has central AC and all the mod-cons. We deployed out 
observing gear in the kitchen to keep it away from the mean summer 
heat and humidity outside. We tuned the television to a local channel 
that played all-day eclipse news. 
    Sister did up coffee and opened some snacks. She tended to the 
kids, who already knew we were coming for the 'EE-clipse'. They had 
from school two sets of eclipse glasses!
    We observed from niece's backyard, a rough square some 15 meters 
on a side. Most was grassed over with open views of the sky in most 
directions. The north was blocked by trees. A concrete apron at the 
rear door of the house supported a patio set and a cooking grill. 
    There was ample room to roam around during the eclipse without 
interfering with each other. 
    We stepped out to check the partial phases with the glasses and 
mirror projector. When we were indoors we followed the TV live images. 
    We could not stay outside for long due to the heat and humidity. 
We repeatedly took refuge indoors for cooling off, getting drinks, 
doing potty breaks. 

    Forecasts for Columbia and most of South Carolina were hideously 
pessimistic. The expectation was thunderstorms in mid afternoon and 
cloudy sky all day. 
    It was, by a stroke of luck, a clear blue sky with only a couple 
small cumulus clouds. Air temperature was fully 37C with fully 100% 
humidity! A gentle hot breeze flowed thru occasionally. 
    It was impossible to sit outdoors in either sun or shade for more 
than a couple minutes. The air moisture smoothed out the heat into the 
shades of trees and house, making them only weak shelters. 
    There was almost no haze as such. The sky color was solid blue, 
tempered by the humidity. 
    Clouds never built up. The sky stayed clear all thru the eclipse. 
    A couple hours after 4th contact clouds moved in and sporadic rain 

    1st contact occurred soon after we arrived at niece's. It took 
about five minutes more to see the Moon's notch with glasses or 
projector. We on-&-off watched from outside or from inside via 
    I set up the mirror projector, a flat mirror with a cardboard 
cover. The cover has a small hole punched in it to make a pinhole 
image of the Sun's reflection. This a placed on a chair, not the ground 
for fear of kicking or stepping on it. The image was aimed to the 
underside of the patio umbrella, where we all could inspect it at will 
in complete safety. 
    About 15 minutes before 2nd contact the air temperature gradually 
declined, settling at the low 20Cs. The breeze stopped, leaving a 
still calm air. It was then comfortable to stay outside continuously. 
    Niece's husband came out to watch with us and was surprised how 
cool and calm it was. He watched  totality with us, then went indoors 
to rest a bit more before getting ready for work.. 
    At ten minutes before 2nd contact the sky was obviously darker 
than it  'should' be under sunlight.  The sky seemed a bit 'too dark' 
a few minutes earlier but now it was obvious to all of us. 
    A minute or less before totality the Moon's shadow rose out of the 
west as a yellowish shading. It quickly blended into the rest of the 
sky without the classical 'cloak' or 'hood' effect. The sky rapidly 
darkened all over smoothly. 

    The last arc of Sun in front of the Moon collapsed cleanly with no 
Diamond Ring. Because we observing without magnification, I could not 
tell if there were any Bailey's Beads. The corona flared out with the 
collapse of the solar arc. 
    The corona by eye was roundish, a little ragged and brushy along 
the edge. Overall the corona was about 3/4 solar diameter deep. I 
didn't notice any streamers or rays, altho  these were captured in my 
photographs.  The streamers were much fainter than the inner corona. I 
may have missed them in my initial inspection by eye.     I didn't catch 
any large prominences or chromospheric flames. Yet clouds within the 
shadow took on a yellow hue. 
    The sky was a gray-blue, as dark as early twilight. We could 
recognize each other at several meters distance.  Clouds, white before 
totality, turned yellowish. They stayed still with no obvious change 
of shape, size, position. 
    We earlier in the day studied a starchart for the location of 
planets Venus and Jupiter. I spotted Venus and called it to the 
others. sister was first  to notice Jupiter. We showed the planets to 
the boys, who were immensely amazed. I didn't expect to see Mercury 
and Mars, both a couple degrees from the Sun and, in fact, no one 
noticed them at all. 
    I took only two pictures of totality because it was far more 
important and delightful to point out the eclipse features to my 
family and specially to the young boys. 
    Totality ended with a dot of Sun uncovered by the Moon, broadening 
into an arc.  There was no Diamond Ring. The arc quickly grew too 
bright to look. The corona retreated into the Sun. We viewed the 
growing Sun then after thru the glasses. 

People and animals
    At about five minutes before totality crickets in nearby trees 
sent up a storm of chirping. Sometime in totality the crickets shut 
off their chirping. 
    We had no people near to us but did hear a burst of ooh-*ah from a 
few houses away when totality began. This was just a single instance, 
not persisting for the whole totality. 
    About ten minutes after 3rd contact we noticed a pet dog in the 
next yard. It's actions and behavior seemed normal. 

    The Sun was coming back to normal brilliance. At about ten minutes 
after 3ed contact the air temperature gradually rose back to the mid 
30Cs and the sky regained its normal daytime brightness. 
    We monitored the egress of the Moon by the mirror projector and 
    Niece left early from work and arrived at home shortly after 4th 
contact She watched the eclipse from the street in front of State 
House in downtown Columbia. She said the streets were wall-to-wall 
people, like on New Year's Eve. Every one was making merry and 
cheering, not actually examining or studying the eclipse. Every one 
dispersed a few minutes after totality ended.
    When she settled in at home I gave every one a slideshow about 
eclipses. It was the one shown at the NYSkies Seminar on July 21st. I 
skipped some technical slides and notched down the level of narration. 
    We noshed on sandwiches, cookies, coffee, soda until late 
    Sister, nephew, and I left niece  and kids to go back to sister's. 
The ride lasted into late twilight with increasing clouds and some 
sporadic rain. 

    This was a beautiful wonderful eclipse! Even tho most of us were 
not astronomy-litterate. we all were thrilled by the celestial show. 
    It was also the third eclipse over the state since I started chasing 
eclipses in the 1960s. All three were near sister's place, needing 
only a short drive into the path of totality. These were the 1970, 
1984, and this 2017 eclipse. What's more my sister's family with me 
observed all three in clear sky!