Mon, Aug 21 2017 - The Great American Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017: a Viewing Expedition to the Path of Totality overlooking beautiful Lake Keowee, SC (View Original Event Details)

Trip Leader(s): Charlie Cottingham
Participants:Charlie Cottingham, Diane, Rik, Gayle M., Ashley M, Greg Walling, Robin Walling, Jackie C, Ray K, Michael R., Deb R, Gloria Colley, Joe F, Mark W, Elvin Hilyer, Pina R, Nancy Hilyer, Karen R, Cat, Jerry Colley, Lee Smith, Herm D, Vicky G, Beverly H, Lucy, Jonathan C, Beth, Tim, Carla Bell, LINDA D, Patti R, Ron Nichols, Pat, Shuchi, Larry Cooper, Gerrilyn, Wolfgang, Jennifer, Rick D, Harry Keller, Nancy I., Jonny, Daniel R, Liz P, Mary Louise, samuel guzman, Charna Perloe, David DeLorme, Dave, Hannah Coker, Vaishnavi Pattabiraman, Tom, Chip S, Mike, Van, Scott Katsinas

Write Up:

Let's hear it for the Great American Eclipse!  Everyone in our big friendly group seemed to agree that this trip to the Blue Ridge foothills was a "TOTALLY awesome" shared experience that we'll never forget.  The waterfront lawn of The Lighthouse on Lake Keowee was dead-center in the path of totality and proved to be a superb place to enjoy this perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  About 200 other eclipse chasers from the public at large were there as well and we all felt blessed to have beautiful blue-sky weather with just a few passing clouds - our "ticket" to splendid views of all three phases.  We took advantage of several safe ways to view the Eclipse directly through shared solar telescopes, filtered binoculars & more than 3 dozen pairs of cardboard-rimmed eclipse glasses.  Also our naked eyes were safe and best to use both during totality and during ~75% of the partial phase periods when we individually weren't actually staring sunward.

"First Contact" for the Eclipse occurred at about 1:08 PM as a few of our folks noticed that a small black notch had appeared on the right side of the sun, confirming that the new moon had begun transiting across it and that the 1st partial phase had indeed begun as predicted.  During the next 3 hours it was amazing to watch the sun's shape morph continuously from its brilliant round "usual self" into a pitch-black circle and then back again into its normal rotundity after totality.  The ever-changing crescent shapes of sunlight during the partial phases could even be seen safely with the naked eye on flat boulders underneath nearby shade trees. Each tiny gap between the trees' leaves becomes a "natural pinhole projector" of the crescent sun.  This happens of course with the round sun on any ordinary day, though we don't take notice!

At ~2:36 PM the crowd's excitement and cheers grew to a fever pitch as a brilliant "Diamond Ring" shaped glow confirmed that "2nd Contact" was occurring - the pivotal moment when the eastern edge of the moon reaches the eastern edge of the sun.  Then, like magic...Totality!  The spectacular wispy corona of the sun's outer atmosphere popped into view, as did brilliant Venus just west of the sun and giant Jupiter east of it.  These 2 minutes and 39 seconds of eerie midafternoon "night" were a staggering spectacle as we marveled at the corona, felt a sudden 5-to-10-degree drop in temperature and witnessed a beautiful golden "total eclipse sunset" surrounding the entire lakeshore and Blue Ridge horizon nearby.

During the 2nd partial phase after totality the ever-fattening crescents of sunlight, though exciting to observe, began to feel a bit like "Ground Hog Day," and we gave goodbye hugs to those in our group who needed to head homeward a bit early.  As the moon parted ways with the sun most of the ~25 of us who remained were relaxing, chatting and trading stories in the shade of our "Tiger Paw" popup tent.  We then enjoyed a leisurely "Blue Ridge view" hike down to the north-facing lakeshore followed by a delicious group meal in the private upstairs dining room of The Lighthouse.

Special thanks to my good friend and fellow amateur astronomer Herm, who brought his fine solar telescope and solar binoculars to share - also to Larry who brought his solar scope and to Gerrilyn, Robin and several others who shared eclipse glasses.  We're all indebted to our gracious hosts: Mark, David and Savannah who manage "The Lighthouse" restaurant & events center.  They and their friendly staff did an awesome job serving up delicious food & refreshments for the horde of eclipse viewers - also provided hundreds of free pair of Eclipse glasses.  Thanks also to newly active AOC members Ashley, Deb, Cat, Jennifer, Daniel, Samuel and Scott who chose this as their very first event with our fine Club.  It was fun having you with us and we hope to see you all again soon

Eclipse Traffic:  Luckily on Monday morning those of us who managed to depart by 7 or 8 o'clock or so from metro Atlanta toward Lake Keowee found the traffic on I-85 and its connecting roads to be moving along generally at a speed-limit or better pace.  We were relieved that every driving party and individual in our final confirmed group made it to Lake Keowee in time to enjoy all 3 phases.  Sadly some of our early returnees to Atlanta just after the Eclipse on Saturday afternoon called to report that the post-eclipse traffic back toward Atlanta was much worse - something that most of us hadn't worried much about prior to the trip.

As emphasized during the outing we encourage everyone to share their favorite photos & video clips that they took during the event.  Ideally please send me (Charlie) these as "clickable links" to your online albums etc. which I can add to this archive article for all to simply click and enjoy.  Or if you prefer, send attached downloadable individual photos, etc.  Personal written anecdotes of the event will also be appreciated, some which I'd love to add to this archive!

Let's all "keep looking up" and vow never to tire of the magic and majesty of the cosmos!  
- Charlie, posted late Monday night Aug 21, 2017