May 21st, 2012


One Big Dud

Not A Good Forecast

So here in West Michigan we were expected to get a piece of the solar eclipse on Sunday 20 May 2012. Though we were far from seeing the maximum of the total annular eclipse, we were expected to have some 40% totality, I believe it was, at sunset.

This is not the first sunset eclipse around here -- we had one ten years ago.
Minor Solar Eclipse of Monday 10 June 2002.

What's an annular eclipse? It's when the whole Moon passes in front of the Sun, but the Moon is at the far end of its orbit, so its angular size is smaller than that of the Sun, leaving a ring (annulus) of bright Sun -- we had a 91% off-center total annular eclipse here eighteen years ago. Total Annular Solar Eclipse of Tuesday 10 May 1994. You had to be west of the Mississippi to have any chance of seeing that this year.

But... we've had high heat and lots of haze for a couple of days. And Sunday's forecast was in the low 90s and only partly sunny.

24 hours to go -- and this is Saturday's hazy sunset at the Holland MI Amtrak station.

It's Getting Darker

But not from the eclipse. By 8pm, it was socked in to the west.

See that big cloud? That's where we need to be looking...

Ironically, the big dark cloud moved east, but it was clearing in the east.

Ersatz panorama shot from West to North to East. You can just make out a reddish glow above the white trailer, but that still may be too far south.*** (Click on photo for larger.)

And then the rains came...

No eclipse for us. Six hours later and the rolling thunderstorms are still coming in.

Ah, West Michigan wins another round against astronomical events.

Dr. Phil

*** WZZM-DT13 showed the clouds rolling in from their Weather Ball tower, which is east of us by about 20 miles. They did some enhancing and managed to pick out a red disk on the horizon at sunset with a bite out of the bottom -- the eclipse did happen. (grin) I tried some editing tricks on my photo, trying to pick out just the red channel and boosting it, but didn't have enough pixels or bits to work with, I guess. (double-grin)

All Home!

Saturday Night

Friday Mrs. Dr. Phil flew in and called home safe and sound at her dad's old house in Chicago. She and her stepmom Pat spent nearly 3 weeks in Nicaragua with a GVSU business and engineering design program. They were really tired. Debbie then took the train to Holland Saturday, arriving exactly on time at 9:21pm.

Home! Or at least at the train station.

Since she had a decompression day in Chicago -- and was still essentially on Central STANDARD Time -- Nicaragua doesn't bother with Daylight Saving Time being at 12° N -- we copied all 616 photos she'd shot on Wendy's Canon SureShot onto a USB Swiss Memory then plugged it into the Sony 32" Bravia and we watched them all.

Sunday Morning

We dispensed with all alarms, but eventually got up and had our Sunday morning downstairs with banana, bagel and newspaper. Last weekend I realized that the lily of the valley out underneath the back deck had flowered -- the scent wafting in from the open windows -- and luckily Mrs. Dr. Phil didn't miss them.

Fragrant lilies of the valley peeking out from under the lush foliage. (Click on photo for larger.)


Around noon it was 56°F -- 35 degrees cooler than Sunday. AC shut off, again. Will have to consider heat tonight, again.

Dr. Phil