Watching the universe move

I decided to use a recording of the Slooh live feed of the Ring of Fire Eclipse from Chile as preparation for the August 21 North American Eclipse. The ring of fire is a different experience from a total eclipse, but has similarities in pacing that will help me practice the mechanical parts of my observation.

Over the past couple of years, I've grown fascinated with experiencing celestial "events". These include solar and lunar eclipses, conjunctions, transits, and occultations. I think of them as moments when I can see the universe move. My views through a telescope can feel like looking through a peephole at a remote static scene, with only an intellectual sense of my relationship to what I see. I've found that the dynamics of large perspective and relative motion in these events gives me a feeling of immersion in the universe. It's an emotional connection filled with awe and wonder.

When I experienced the rising sun, earth, moon, and the five visible planets while taking images for Seven Worlds at Dawn, I saw the worlds of the Solar System spread across the sky and I was part of it. A small living spec witnessing something vast.

Seven Worlds at Dawn
All of the worlds visible to the unaided eye at once! The Earth, Moon, and the five unaided eye visible planets: Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter. A panorama taken from Austin, Texas at 2016-02-04 12:35 UT. Sony NEX-5N with 12mm Rokinon lens. Panorama stitched in Hugin. PixInsight DBE. HDR merge and exposure adjustment in Photoshop.

In the Slooh video at 1:36:30, host Gerard Monteux interviews famous eclipse chaser Dr. Kate Russo. She eloquently describes very similar transcendent experiences watching total solar eclipses. I highly recommend listening to that part of the recording. If you have any doubt where you will be on 21 August, 2017, listening to Kate will resolve it. We can all be moved by watching the universe move together.

Content created: 2017-02-27

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