Sometimes time and fate put you together with an event that you never imagined. That is my story for the 2017 Great American Eclipse. My employer Casper College happened to be centerline on the path of totality for the Solar Eclipse 2017. My expectations were tempered partly because of the amount of work required to prepare for this event and partly because I had no idea how cool the event actually would be. The end result is that I am very glad to have had the opportunity to experience “Totality” from probably the best viewing location along the 2017 eclipse center line.
Our (Department of Information Technology) primary job for the eclipse was to provide strong wireless for the Astrocon attendees and hard-wired connections for the folks from Celestron Telescopes who were responsible for streaming the event for the Science Channel. We also provided a connection for a live feed for the Associated Press.
We spent many months debating the need, the potential crowds and how much we were going to spend on this one-time event project with no long-term direct impact for our students. Sure there is some public relations benefit in the short term, but not any real long-term direct student benefit. In spite of the cool once in a lifetime experience, my previous statement is still true. As we continued looking at this project we decided there might be some areas where we were going to upgrade some of our technology. We determined we would try to identify (if possible) expenditures which would help us support the event and which would and which would benefit our students in the future. In summary on this point. We did good!
Here is a summary of a few of my observations about the Solar Eclipse 2017 live from Casper College in Casper Wyoming.
- If you can avoid hosting a global event the week before school starts it is a good idea.
- Really proud of my crew for stepping up for the network needs for this event. Our preparation has been months specifying and purchasing gear for the event. This includes a surveillance project for our Tate Museum and Werner Wildlife Museum. One item of note, if you happen to get to support a solar eclipse and want the light poles to go off and the wireless to remain powered you need to make sure you have dual power sources to your light poles. Frankly, we have been hammered the past few months. We don’t quite have enough campus bandwidth to fax pizza but we are getting there.
- Peter Banda from the Associated Press actually used our wireless network for the first 20 minutes of his live feed. When it started clipping a bit he switched to a hard-wired connection. “Easy Smeazy”.
- Thanks Wyoming Governor Matt Mead for your vision to expand Wyoming’s broadband capabilities and former state CIO Flint Waters for his tenacity in making the vision come true. A 100GB capacity was pretty handy. We contacted our friends at the state and simply turned up a couple extra GB for this event.
- Matt and Derik from Celestron were awesome. They were grateful for our bandwidth, but I personally learned so much from them and it was cool to have a front row seat to see their work.
- I had a chance to take some Celestron Los Angelites to dark sky west of Casper for viewing the stars. They were blown away and I hope I never take the night skies I have here for granted.
- Astronomers are pretty serious about their craft. It is always good to see a passion for a hobby. We saw it up close and personal. Most of this group of photos are of “Mr. Eclipse” Fred Espenak with a couple other astronomers mixed in as well. As you can see there are a whole bunch of early risers. Also, I like the contrast of the old wagon and the modern technology.
- You do not want any extra light sources impacting one of these events. In one viewing location we had some light reflecting out of the building and so we accommodated them by turning off the lights in that area. The inadvertent problem that created as we started the day was it also turned off the lights in the restrooms in that building. You don’t want Totality in the restrooms. We also worked with our physical plant to make sure we had two separate sources of power to the poles where the primary Astricon viewing area was. One so that they could turn off the lights and one so that we could power our wireless access points.
- Maybe it is just because there were more people, but my daughter who was working downtown during the Eclipse Festival seemed to think there were more individuals taking advantage of the open carry laws for guns in Wyoming. We both wondered if any outsiders who might have been in doubt really consider everyone in Wyoming armed after this event.
- Casper as a city did good (yes grammar Nazi reading this I know I should have said well)! The overwhelming traffic was not so overwhelming. It was busy but not chaos. Everyone prepared well.
- One advantage of viewing Totality in Casper Wyoming per some multiple Totality viewers… You can drink the water!
- I had more than one person ask me where they could buy one of the eclipse shirts I was wearing
- The traveling out of Casper was not so good. Our visitors camping on our property spent 12 hours making the normally 4 hour trip from Casper to Denver. Here is a sample of what they experienced:
- Totality is way different than even 98% per many of the Astricon attendees
- I was told I would understand Totality after seeing it and they are correct. It is different.
- Twilight 360 degrees, the cooling temps, birds acting a little goofy, Cresent Shadows, and everyone getting quiet as it happens were just a few of the things happening. The non-shadow images below were during Totality. Thanks to Donielle Williams for the image from lower campus.
- Totality people count their participating in minutes of Totality they have experienced rather than in the number of events attending.
- I ran into people who had attended 13 & 9 events respectively. Interesting story there is they met at a total eclipse and it turns out they lived 10 minutes from each other in Southern California. Cool way to make friends.
- My perspective and photos are a little different than just shots of the moon and sun. I was literally on centerline in the middle of the media, Mr. Eclipse, and numerous Astrocon participants. I knew there would be lots of pictures looking up. I tried to capture the people who were capturing the views of the sky. Included below is a news crew from the Sichuan province in China. Talking to them brings back great memories of my time in China circa 2008. Here is a sample from that adventure.
- How good was it? I already have reservations for 2024 in Texas.
- If I make it to my 80s, Totality will pass over my hometown in Southeast Colorado in 2045. If your reading this and we both make it to 2045 then look me up. I will be in Springfield Colorado. If you like local history here is a link and a shameless plug for my local history blog about the most Southeast County in Colorado.
I have more photos and will post when I can.