A Birthday

A more important event is happening closer to home. It is my dad’s 87th birthday. Within our family, birthdays are among the important occasions we celebrate. A total solar eclipse occurring on the same day, a very nice coincidence.

Later tonight, it is the celebratory cookout and dessert. The girls have taken the day off from riding to watch the eclipse and string lights in the backyard. Laurie’s special dessert for tonight is a coconut cheesecake topped with walnuts, caramel and more coconut.

Making two cheesecakes on Sunday afternoon, Laurie saved one for dessert, Sunday night. Three slices remained, but disappeared early.

My dad, he is doing well and in very good health. Those are things that matters.

Easy Like Sunday: Eclipse Day Preview

The anticipation is great. It’s been called the celestial event of the year, and more. And, it begins in a matter of hours.

Its transcontinental path across America is most rare. Not rare is the zone of totality, about 67 miles wide. Outside the zone, a partial eclipse. For example, Grand Teton National Park, lies within the zone of totality but its immediate neighbor to the north, Yellowstone National Park, will experience a 99% partial eclipse. While the experience should be the same whether in Grand Teton or Yellowstone, it has been suggested it is not. Both places of nature’s grandeur will be dark regardless.

click on the map to view the interactive Google eclipse map*

If the plan is to directly observe the eclipse, partial or total, you will need to be properly equipped. The eclipse glasses or handheld viewers should be certified to meet the ISO 12312-2 standard. Many reputable outlets have already sold out their stock. One alternative is to make a DIY cardboard pinhole viewer. The pinhole viewer does work; it is a matter of practicing in the hours before the eclipse. Practice can also be done using a lamp as a substitute for the sun.

The other direct view methods are a telescope or a welder’s lens. For a telescope, a sun filter that attaches to the eyepiece is needed or a sun projection screen. If it is a welder’s lens, a shade 14 lens should be used according to NASA. Anything less does not provide the necessary eye protection. Most welding supply stores have said a shade 14 lens is a special order item.

ready: 400X Jason refractor telescope and kitty station

If the plan also includes to photograph the eclipse, partial or total, you will need to have the proper filtering lens for your camera. A sun filter should be attached to the end of the zoom lens. The stacking of neutral density filters along with polarizing filters will not protect the camera sensor from damage. With the camera essentially turned into a refractor telescope, increasing the optical zoom will decrease its light gathering ability. It will require a judicious use of zoom, ISO speed and aperture to capture a decent image.

The wild card in viewing the eclipse is weather. In general, the forecast is expected to be good to fair. Along the Colorado Front Range, we’re expected to have sky conditions featuring thin, high-level cloudiness. In Casper, WY, the closest point of totality, they are expected to have similar sky conditions. The level of cloudiness maybe enough to provide a momentary glimpse of the sun without protection.

Regardless of approach, a total solar eclipse of this kind should not be missed. If you watch online or television, mute the sound. What matters is your sense of marvel and experience, not the commentator’s.

Note

If you click on the map above, you will redirected to Google’s Interactive Eclipse Map. Combined with their satellite street mapping, you are able to project the eclipse, partial or total, to your street address. At our house, we’re expected to have a partial eclipse of 88.892% at maximum. The shadows are expected to be similar to an early dusk twilight. The eclipse will begin at 10:23:40.7, reaching its maximum at 11:47:55.0, and ending at 13:15:59.4.

Two Weeks: To Be Eclipsed

On August 21, a total solar eclipse will cross over North America, from coast to coast. What makes this more of a rare event, the path of totality will be entirely over continental United States. The narrow band will stretch from Salem, OR to Charleston, SC. A partial eclipse will be seen outside the band of totality. How much of a partial eclipse will be seen by those outside the band of totality is determined by how close they are to the band.

eclipse map courtesy of NASA

In Colorado, for example, the partial eclipse will range from 85% (NM border) to 95% (WYO border). The last total eclipse through the western states was in October 1978. At that time, the partial eclipse was around 85%. In terms of light, it was similar to what one would expect at the beginning of evening twilight with longer shadows. With the coming eclipse, observers in Colorado should expect the same. If it is overcast, it should be darker – with the level of darkness determined by the thickness of the overcast.

Seeing with my eyes

Under any circumstance, do not observe the sun without proper eye protection. If you choose to use eclipse glasses or viewers, it must be ISO-12312-2 compliant (meaning it meets the minimum safety standard to directly view the sun). The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has developed list of reputable vendors, which can be found here.

The low cost (free), DIY approach is to make a pinhole viewer, consisting of a cardboard box (smaller the better) and an unused piece of bright white, multipurpose paper. Make a pinhole in the cardboard box, the white piece of paper is the projection screen. Before the eclipse, practice lining up the cardboard box over the paper. What you are looking for is the brightest amount of light coming through the pinhole.

DIY: pinhole eclipse viewer parts with spatial analysis test

If you have a telescope, there is a good chance it came with a sun filter for your eyepiece. Line up your telescope without using your finderscope, which is fairly easy. With the sun filter in your eyepiece, line up your telescope before the eclipse begins. If your telescope came with a solar projection screen instead of a filter, it is the same process like using a pinhole viewer.

The super-safe way of following the eclipse is to watch NASA, online or their TV channel (DISH Network and DirecTV). You’ll also receive a science lesson on the side.

Photographing the solar eclipse

Photographs of a solar eclipse cannot be beat. If that is your plan, the plan should be nearly complete in terms of equipment and practice. If not, Canon USA has assembled a reference guide to photograph the eclipse – from an introduction to eclipse photography to equipment to site preparation.

Eclipse Extra: Tonight – Partial Lunar Eclipse

Whenever the Earth, the sun and moon line up for an eclipse, on occasion, the eclipse will come as a pair. Tonight, during the full moon phase, a partial lunar eclipse will occur. The partial eclipse will come around sunset for those in eastern Europe and Africa, and before sunrise on August 8th in the Far East and Australia. In North America, no partial lunar eclipse will be seen.

Online Resources

 

Riding: Iowa

It represents the halfway point of the back half of the 2017 season. Yet, plenty of riding remains. Practice for the two weeks away has been fairly straightforward. Much of it is staying sharp, staying crisp. Moreover, it is about staying with the technique that have brought them to this point. Consistency is valued at this point in the season. Trish is very pleased with how well the girls are riding. “They are riding better than ever before.”

Preparing on a short week has its advantages. It allows my daughters to have a steadier and narrower focus. The Iowa shows, though not CSI-rated*, are among the best on the AA circuit. They have the ability to draw some of the best riders from across the nation. My daughters know they must be on top of their game to be in a position to compete.

Tara and Cameron: deciding on the saddle pads (JN Ranch, Jul 30 2017)

Time to ride.

* CSI – Concours de Saut International, the rating system for show jumping events.

Happy Birthday Musketeers!

The Musketeers – Maxie, Midnight and Tuxie – are turning 12 today. Time has flown by so quickly. They have grown into fine, loving kitties. Closely bonded, they have kept an eye on each other.

Midnight

Maxie

Tuxie, forever remembered and forever loved

Losing Tuxie, last August, most fortunately Maxie and Midnight handled it well. Whether they had sensed Tuxie’s short time, that can only be surmised. Maxie and Midnight have carried on in true Musketeer tradition.

the rare three-shot (September 2006)

Happy Birthday Musketeers!

xoxo
mom and dad

Dino: Rainbow Bridge Day

It is the ninth anniversary of his Rainbow Bridge Day. We remember Dino with great fondness and love. He was the best of cats – friendly, happy, close confidante, and loyal littermate. Dino loved all things fresh, from cut-flowers to laundered clothes to Kona coffee to babies.

Dino: on kitten watch in early spring  (March 1990)

the fan: favorite objet d’arte

napping with his objet d’arte

catnip scratcher box: “all mine”

Pebbles and Dino: waiting on dinner

Dino at one (Sep 1990)

We were most privileged to have our Siamese boy for nearly 19 years. Every day was a good one with him. We miss you much.

Love you always,

mom and dad
xoxo

Photos are from the Two Cats Two archives. They were taken using a Canon FTb 35 mm SLR using Kodak Gold (ASA 200) film.

Riding: The Home Ground

Over the past few years, it has been riding away from home. The level of competition is much greater and more varied. Riding at a higher level certainly warrants this kind of approach. It is important to measure individual progress and to improve riding skills. It also requires more selectivity while constructing the show schedule. Traveling a long distance for one show and back home, that show likely does not make the schedule – though we’ve done it a few times. Making all the pieces fit – shows, practice, downtime – on the calendar is the difficult part. It provides invaluable experience for the younger equestrian contemplating a professional career.

Walk of Champions (Colorado Horse Park, July 2016)

This week, and next, the riding will be closer to home. These two shows are part of a summer series, which begins in early June and ends in late July, or early August. It is a nice series drawing riders from the Four Corners zone, the larger Intermountain West and the Midwest. With the away schedule, my daughters have used the month of July as downtime while maintaining their in-season practice schedule. Last summer, they rode the last show of the series. This summer, it is the last two shows of the series.

Riding the home ground has given the girls the opportunity to renew their ties with riding friends who still make the trek, here, for two, three or four weeks. They’ll also be sharing some of their experience with the five junior riders from RRC. Trish will have them shadow Deborah, Elizabeth and Tara like she had them shadow Greg, Sarah and Megan. Trish, she’ll be watching everything from the sidelines.

end of the day: Trish and Perry head back to the barn (RRC, July 6 2017)