Bryce Canyon, May 2012

I took a long weekend to visit the desert southwest, to view the annular solar eclipse (my first total eclipse, annular or otherwise) on 20 May and to tend my dust devil monitoring project in Nevada. The best eclipse viewing was forecast to be southern Utah, so I met up with Jani Radebaugh to see some of the sites of her home state as well as the event itself.

01_littlesahara

First stop was the Little Sahara dunefield. Not quite the real Sahara, but neat nonetheless (Photo: Jani)

02_haleranch_grover

Jani's grandparents' ranch in Grover was a pleasant and peaceful place to overnight on the way south. Our car, appropriately enough, was a Mitsubishi Eclipse...

03_capitolreef_xbedding

Heading south, we passed through Capitol Reef National Monument. The lovely crossbedding in the sandstones betrays that long ago this whole area was overrun by sand dunes that subsequently got cemented in place and buried.

04_amphitheatre

Bryce Canyon National Park is spectacularly colorful - this view shows the wide amphitheatre from where we later viewed the eclipse with some hundreds of others.

05_hikersbryce

Before the eclipse, we had time to hike down into the hoodoos.

06_bryce_mysticglow

The sunlight on the bright (leached?) layers gave almost a mystic glow.

07_forbidding

Things look less mystic after hiking down and realizing you have to hike back up...

08_eclipsesequence

While I didnt get the azimuth pointed well enough to catch more of the event, I did catch the start of the eclipse with a timelapse camera with a pair of eclipse glasses duct-taped over the lens. Frames are 1 minute apart.

09_halphaprominence

I'd bought a Coronado PST Solar Telescope which has a narrow Hydrogen-Alpha etalon filter that lets you look at the sun safely, and see prominences on the sun's edge. My point-and-shoot didnt mate well with the eyepiece, but Jani's did a reasonable job and caught this prominence as the moon began to block the sun. (Photo: Jani)

10_nearlyfullring

A later shot as the eclipse peaked. Unfortunately the shot does not do justice to the dramatic irregularity in the thin ring of light when the moon just touched the solar limb - the mountains on the moon's limb cause the arc to break up. Seeing that may have been the highlight of the trip. (Photo: Jani)

11_ralphsnake

My reaction on seeing a snake on the ground is to back away slowly. For reasons I do not understand, Jani lunged and picked it up. It proved to be rather placid (or perhaps just terrified). (Photo: Jani)

12_ddtimelapse_120517_1541_1546

The day after the eclipse we headed, via a very alpine 12,000ft pass near Brian Head, to Las Vegas, where I retrieved a timelapse camera and dataloggers I'm using to study dust devils. This sequence shows a devil (some 10s of m across, from about 5km distance) over a 5 minute period starting 1241hr s local time on 17th May.

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