But then the Navigator called to invite me to his senior design team presentation at CalPoly and the logistics were too complicated to get to both. When your kid spends the last year of his five years in engineering college designing an unmanned cargo plane to deliver emergency supplies to a remote location after an international disaster, you just go. It's astonishing to see your son in a dark suit describing aspects of empennage to 19 representatives of the aeronautical industry. I did sneak out to Morro Rock during lunch to check on the peregrine falcons where a cadre of bearded gentleman shared their scopes and gave me the daily update on the recently fledged chicks. Four peregrine fledglings showing off their own impressive empennage.
|Dakota by the Aerofox team|
And I wasn't feeling very organized about photographing the eclipse either. Despite the Lion Hunter's advice, I had never gotten around to buying a special filter to protect my lens. Throughout the day, people were posting advice on the Calphoto Yahoo group. Lots of warnings about protecting your eyes and sensitive camera equipment. Also some good info from R. Beebe about " and something about shooting the shadow through a pinhole or your binoculars onto white cardboard or a wall. So about 4:30, I put down my shovel and gathered up a bunch of optical gear and headed over to the corner of the backyard that usually has the best view of the sunset.
|A habitat-providing stump|
I missed catching a rattlesnake on the driveway two weeks ago, and then I got buzzed by a rattler in the garage two days later which slipped underneath a shelf where I couldn't get it. I've been jumpy ever since. My rule is to safely capture and move any rattlesnake I see around the farm buildings right away to reduce the risk of being surprised in a more compromising position. All three sightings were probably the same rattler making the rounds of mice dens and gopher holes in the yard. Grrr, I really didn't want to deal with this.
|A northern Pacific rattlesnake, already in position to see the solar eclipse.|
I was nervous because usually when I find a rattler, it is sunning itself stretched out. They are easier to grab with the snake tongs then and they can't lunge very far if the rear third of their body is not coiled on the ground. This snake was semi-coiled and might be able to slip away under the log, and then who knows where it might show up while I was trying to photograph the eclipse.
If you're going to shoot the eclipse, move the rattlesnake first.
So I gave myself a stern talking-to, went and got the snake gear, and with more stern coaching and a few tense minutes, I had the rattler snagged and locked inside the snake can. It was fat and must have been eating a lot of gophers. I put the can in the garage for later relocation because it was almost eclipse time.
Now that you have moved the rattlesnake, you have to shoot the eclipse. I was wondering if the Lion Hunter was having such problems in Nevada.
|Solar eclipse 5:58 pm|
I switched from the troublesome stump to a white piece of foamboard propped on a lawn chair and tried flipping my binoculars around like someone had described. It took awhile to figure out how to aim the binocs, but eventually, they were projecting a dual set of ever shrinking bright crescents, so I put the camera on a tripod aimed at the foamboard. Do not look at the sun or eclipse with binoculars, this is just a technique for projecting the light. Because the binocs were heavy, I found it easier to hold them still if I sat on the ground and braced my arm against the seat of the lawn chair, and clicked the camera with a remote. Since my not-so-fancy gear and rear were spread out on the ground, I was really glad I had moved the rattlesnake.
|Solar eclipse 6:00 pm|