Eclipse Chaser's Journal, Part 6. The Iffy One:
Total Solar Eclipse of 8 April, 2024.
Journal and Images of the (Prevented) Expedition.

(A.K.A. The Eclipse Expedition that was PREVENTED by the Unreliability of Frontier Communications.)

Jeffrey R. Charles

© Copyright 2018, 2020, 2023, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles. All Rights Reserved.
URL: http://www.eclipsechaser.com/eclink/image/total24.htm

Prominence imaged in H-Alpha (visible naked eye, for those in the path of totality). [Place Holder Image.]
Later: Left: Maximum Eclipse from Los Angeles, CA. Right: Prominences of 240408 through Coronado PST.
LEFT: Partial Solar Eclipse from Los Angeles. Maximum eclipse was only about 50 percent of the solar diameter, and far less in area. My trip to the path of totality was prevented by an extended outage of both Frontier phone and Internet service, at the critical time when I was trying to arrange a group trip. (I was unable to make the long drive by myself.)
RIGHT: Solar prominences of 8 April, 2024, imaged with Coronado PST 40mm aperture Hydrogen-Alpha telescope immediately after end of the partial eclipse. The large triangular prominence was close to where the "diamond ring" effect occurred at third contact (the end of totality) for people near the center of the path of totality.
Copyright 2018, 2020, 2023. 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.
Use of material herein subject to conditions in Versacorp Legal Information Page (www.versacorp.com/vlink/legal/legal.htm).
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Images (and Journal) of My (Prevented) 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Expedition.

Contents:

About THIS Version of J. Charles' 2024 Eclipse Images and Text Work(s): (Ver. 240409)
This material includes work(s) that may later be published in separate (shorter) works on media or online, etc.
* Most if not all of the introduction text (plus some other text) may later be moved to a separate (not yet started) "Eclipse Chaser's Journal" chapter or web page, as was text describing 4 of my other total solar eclipse expeditions.

Eclipse Chaser's Journal, Part 6 (with Photos):
The Iffy One: Total Solar Eclipse of 8 April, 2024

Introduction: Overcoming Three Years of Lost Time, Only to be Thwarted (by Frontier)

Shortly after the 2017 total solar eclipse, I began developing a set of eclipse instrumentation that incorporated lessons learned from the 2017 eclipse. I started early because I did not want to be in a position where some last minute events complicated or prevented a 2024 eclipse expedition.

Because I was (and am) disabled, I had to work slowly. Often, I only had few hours of stamina per week left over after my activities of daily living (ADL's) were out of the way. I also had to budget spending more than I had before, because I was entering "fixed income" territory as I aged. Even with these limitations, the 2024 eclipse setup was on track to be finished by mid to late 2021.

Thrust Into Being Power of Attorney (POA) for an Incapacitated Friend and Veteran:

However, in late 2020, an older friend (and Navy Veteran) became incapacitated. I was his designated Power of Attorney (POA), and seeing to his affairs became almost all I could handle for the next three years. This was mostly because many of the parties involved were contentious. He had assigned me as his POA because he had no surviving family.

The upshot of this was that my time was not my own for the next three years. Among numerous other things (most of which were more important than eclipses), this delayed preparations for the 2024 eclipse by the same amount of time. But with much effort (given my condition), this time was made up in early 2024.

However, less than a month before the 2024 eclipse, a LONG outage of both Phone AND Internet by Frontier Communications (lasting well over a week) prevented arranging group transportation by road. (I was then unable to drive any distance due to being exhausted from managing the affairs of, and advocating for, my incapacitated friend, and my disability prevented negotiating an airport with so much equipment.)

Therefore, after all of that eclipse preparation over a number of years, it was not possible to get to the path of totality. Everything else was ready. The eclipse equipment had all been tested and packed, and I had reservations in Texas for both a motel and an observing site. The ONLY thing missing was a way to get there. And Frontier prevented connecting with people who WOULD CERTAINLY have been able to drive me there. (To get time off work in time for the eclipse, the driver, who also wanted to go to the eclipse with his mother, would have had to give his employer more notice than what was possible after the long Frontier outage.)

Nonetheless, this web page includes (or soon will include) photos and descriptions the full set of eclipse instrumentation that was comprised of 16 cameras and several instruments (such as a multi channel camera controller, light meters, and a thermometer, etc.) All of this had been designed, procured, built, and otherwise assembled to make the 2024 eclipse setup a reality. Since all of that work was done anyway, the "Eclipse Instrumentation" chapter in this web page includes (or soon will include) photos of the full setup, with descriptions.

Meanwhile, back to the important background story, in which the final nine months were a roller coaster of recurring HMO-imposed circumstances where life and death literally hung in the balance:

A Myriad of New Things to Do as My Friend's POA, Starting in Late 2020:

The last time I had spoken with my elderly friend on the phone was on about 11 December, 2020. Almost all contact with him was by phone because he lived nearly 70 miles away. On 18 December, I had restored and sold one of his telescopes for him, and was going to inform him of this on my next call. He had told me that I could have the telescope, but I knew that his saying that was his dementia talking. So I sold it for him, which is the way it had been discussed previously.

When I called him on about 21 December, 2020, I could not reach him. After some time being unable to reach him, I asked for a welfare check on him, but I did not hear back. I also continued to call his phone number, but to no avail. A few days later, I called again for a welfare check, but did not hear back right away. However, when I called yet again the day after Christmas, someone at the Fire Department remembered that he had been taken to a hospital, and further checking showed that this had happened on 16 December. It took a while to find out which hospital they had taken him to, then to find out where he was in that hospital.

He was in an HMO hospital that was in the general area (distant from me) around where he lived. By then, he was stable and in the hospital overflow area, but could not be seen in person due to COVID precautions. The Social Worker there indicated that he was incapacitated, and that the hospital would only release him to a 24 hour care situation. She said his incapacity was almost certainly permanent. This meant that he could not go back to living in his condo.

I briefly spoke with him on the phone, and he sounded fine. However, he said he thought he was in a restaurant, rather than a hospital. They had fed him shortly before the call.

As was the case for many elderly people in 2020, the California COVID lockdowns played a significant role in his becoming incapacitated. He had depended on restaurants for getting proper meals, and for much of his social life. When these closed during the 2020 lockdowns, he neither ate properly or had a normal social life.

Later investigation showed that he had declined somewhat rapidly in certain ways, starting in the spring of 2020. This had progressed throughout the summer, to a point where he was not refilling his prescriptions by late August. In fact, the August 2020 page was still open on the calendar in his dining room.

His December 2020 incapacity had happened at a very bad time, because I had been exposed to COVID at the grocery store on 15 December, and had begun to develop symptoms by the 19th. These symptoms got worse, and I was ultimately quite ill from COVID for almost a month, and (to comply with COVID guidelines of the day) I had to self-quarantine for what turned out to be 32 days.

Nonetheless, many things that had to be done for him. This included providing the documents and information necessary to be recognized as his POA by multiple institutions, utilities, etc., and to get POA access to his funds at his bank so I could pay his bills, etc. The latter was extremely important, because the hospital said it would not discharge him until his 24-hour care could be paid for entirely from his own funds. Almost everything had to be initiated by phone or Fax, due to my quarantine situation.

In addition to this, I had to determine what type of 24 hour care was a good fit for him, and find a care facility for him. A board and care home (which has very few residents in comparison to a nursing home) seemed like the best option for him. Even with the assistance of a Placement Coordinator, finding a suitable place for him took days of work (my days are short owing to my own disability). But when the right place was found, it was almost a perfect fit for him. He liked to walk outdoors, and very few board and care homes had the space to accommodate this, but this one did. There were also other features that made that home the best one for him.

There was also the matter of looking into his VA benefits, but I was told that he did not qualify for assistance in housing or care, because his time in the Service had not been during either the Korean or Vietnam wars. Then there were also the matters of his bills, his reverse mortgage, his previously scheduled medical appointments, informing his other friends, and many other things.

What follows describes only a fraction of the major challenges associated with being his POA, MPOA, and Successor Trustee, etc.


Uncooperative Parties: (Bank won't honor his documents, HMO wants to end him.)

Being POA for him was severely complicated by his bank (Bank of America), reverse mortgage company (Ceink), credit card company (Synchrony), wireless phone company (Verizon), and HMO, all being uncooperative on a long term basis.

Difficulties with his credit card company and phone company were initiated by his bank's refusal to timely honor his POA documents, and this was the direct cause of many of his bills becoming delinquent before his funds at his bank could be accessed to pay his bills. Synchrony was so hard to deal with on his behalf (they contradicted themselves, would not accept payments for months, and would not connect me to anyone in the USA) that I also canceled my own Synchrony card. (I would not want my POA to have to deal with them if I later became incapacitated myself.)

His neighbor had paid some of his bills before I was able to access his funds or get to his condo (owing to my quarantine and lingering weakness from Long COVID), but it was not practical for either of us to continue that after long delays by his bank dragged on for weeks, and then months. (Why anyone would use the bank he used is beyond me. They caused much stress and hardship.)


A Bank that Back Dates Notarized Documents, even when a Customer Challenges It:

His bank was the first big problem, because the hospital would not discharge him until I could arrange to pay for his mandated 24-hour care with HIS funds. His bank was made fully aware of this from the beginning. But his bank held up access to even one of his accounts by TWO MONTHS. They did this by refusing to honor his POA documents (which had been drafted by his attorney), even after many contacts with them by phone and in person. I filed complaints against his bank during this delay, including with the CFPB.

However, when the bank did partially honor his POA documents (for only ONE of his accounts) they BACK DATED the NOTARIZED documents that were associated with the signature card (this can be proven), including back dating the notary log book. (They even wrote in the date for my signature.) And then they represented the BACK DATED date as being the actual date to the CFPB, to dispose of my complaint against them.

Solely because of his bank, he was not discharged to 24 hour care from hospital overflow until the end of March, 2021. He had been in the hospital for about 100 days, with the last 60 days of this being solely because of his bank.

Those actions by his bank complicated his other affairs, and led to two month delays in his cancer surgeries, and that appears to have played a role in his ultimate demise, two and a half years later. During the bank's two month delay, the bank had repeatedly been made aware of his urgent situation, but they didn't care. (So, far from being useful, his bank may have irreparably harmed him. They certainly harmed me in terms of health, but I won't go into that here.)

Also, because the bank did not allow POA access to his savings even by the summer (even though they had told the CFPB that they would timely allow access), his condo had to be sold for him FOUR MONTHS sooner than would have otherwise been necessary, in order to pay his bills. This needlessly rushed the process. (His condo had to eventually be sold because he'd long had a reverse mortgage, and he could not live there while getting 24-hour care. But the sale date required by this was a year after he ceased to live there for medical reasons, or at least four months later.)

In their 2021 response to the CFPB, the bank had said that they would timely cooperate on providing access to the other account. But as of when this was written, after three years and over 20 contacts with the bank, they never did honor his POA documents for his other account.

When this was written in 2024, it was obvious that official channels and conventional complaints were not going to get his bank to cooperate. And numerous contacts with the bank (both in person and by phone) had not helped either. So immortalizing what the bank did (to both of us thus far) on this web page was/is a last resort.

There are no plans to make this record disappear if the bank later cooperates. I lost numerous hours to this bank, and as will be seen below, repercussions of the bank's initial two month delay may have caused irreparable harm to my friend. Other vulnerable people who could be similarly be impacted by a bank may benefit from this cautionary tale.

A State level complaint against the bank, for back dating notarized documents (which is perjury according to wording on the documents), is still open.


An HMO where Patients Experience a "Natural Dying Process", Even if They Want to Live:

His HMO was also a problem, especially in 2023. It took them a year and a half to even provide his medical records. And when these were provided, all information about his most recent two hospitalizations (and related rehab) were missing. His name obviously is not mentioned, both for his privacy and due to HIPAA.

Precursors:

Previously, up through late 2022: Due to delays caused by SOLELY by my friend's BANK, his skin cancer got worse throughout early 2021. An appointment could not be made for him while the bank situation (and thus, his discharge date from hospital overflow) was unresolved.

After that, there was nearly another two to three month backlog in appointments at his HMO. But his doctor was able to pull some strings and arrange an appointment a month sooner than what I had been able to come up with (June vs July).

Playing "Catch Up" with His Cancer:

From then on, it was a matter of playing catch up on his skin cancer. One lesion went from the size of a dime to almost silver dollar size because of the bank's delay. Another went from smaller than a dime to the size of a quarter. And that was just what was visible on the surface.

After this, every cancer surgery had to be more invasive than it would have been if it could have been done two months earlier (without the bank-imposed delay). And, there had to be more total surgery appointments, because the more invasive surgeries could not be grouped together like the lesser surgeries could have been without the bank delay. One of the surgeries was even disfiguring to an extent.

In October of 2022, one of his incisions would not heal, and it ultimately became infected. This was from a surgery that probably would not have been done as late, or have been as invasive, if his bank had not imposed a two month delay over a year and a half earlier.

Sent Home Twice, Apparently without Adequate Treatment:

He went to his HMO ER twice for this, but he was sent home twice without anything significant being done about it. But then, only four hours after he was sent home the second time, a hospital case manager called and said that two tests had just come back, and both showed that he had considerable bacteria in bis blood (sepsis).

She said he had to be brought back to the hospital on an emergency basis. However, she said the HMO would not do anything about arranging transport, so there was no choice (with my being 70 miles away) but to call 911, and get transferred to where I could arrange an ambulance for him.

(I had the distinct impression that this case manager had sent him home too early, and that she would not help arrange transport to obscure that. This impression was reinforced by her attempts to discharge him too early on two subsequent occasions that year, and the fact that she seemed to want to provoke, and repeatedly did provoke, his board and care home manager. Very amateurish.)

As soon as he was brought to the hospital by ambulance, he was admitted to the hospital and put on IV antibiotics via a PICC central line. However, after only a few days in the hospital, and before the course of IV antibiotics was finished, he was discharged to a rehab facility in Pomona.

Scabies, a Possible Incomplete Course of Antibiotics, and COVID:

While at the rehab facility, he got scabies, and in the scratching that accompanied that, he pulled out his PICC IV. After this, the same case manager (who was for some reason also involved with the rehab facility) repeatedly dodged questions about if they re-established his IV and finished his antibiotics.

Before long, the rehab facility tried to discharge him back to his board and care home - before his treatment for Scabies was complete. (They had previously volunteered that they would keep him until that was complete.) So I filed (and won) an appeal, and they kept him until that treatment was completed.

But he tested positive for COVID about when he would have been discharged, so they kept him a while longer. But upon his proposed discharge, it was found that the facility had not isolated him in a different room from other COVID patients, and they would not do a PCR test.

The care home (understandably) refused to take him under these conditions, so I appealed again. This second appeal was lost, but it bought enough time (private pay) to iron things out so he could be safely discharged. This HMO rehab facility never provided his records, even when my requests for records were backed up by the hospital.

A Longer Term Hospitalization, with Recurring Life and Death Implications:

In February, 2023, he had a crisis and had to be hospitalized longer term. He had sepsis again (this time, an antibiotic resistant variety), pneumonia, and congestive heart failure.

Many things pointed back to the rehab facility (the same one that did not provide records), and the possibility that they had not finished his antibiotics after he had pulled out his IV. Some of the HMO doctors later even concurred with this opinion as to possibly why his sepsis was resistant. Also, his heart had been fine in tests from only a few days before he was sent to the rehab facilty, but now, his E.F. was almost 20 percent lower.

After he had been in the hospital a couple of weeks, it appeared that the pulmonary staff had made an error in administration of his oxygen (using a nose cannula, when he breathes through his mouth) and his O2 saturation had frequently been down in the mid to low 80's for days by the time I was finally able to get to the hospital, which was 70 miles away. His kidneys had begun to fail during this period of low saturation, and it appeared that dialysis would be necessary.

Careless Hospital Staff Panics My Friend, and His Subsequent Desire to Prolong Life:

While I was visiting him at the hospital on 13 March, 2023, a female doctor at the hospital came into his room, and carelessly and aggressively pushed for a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order) - IN HIS HEARING. When I did not agree to that, she became more aggressive, while still in his hearing. This obviously panicked him. And he had a look like the person in the 1971 movie "Andromeda Strain" had, when the seals in the laboratory failed, and the character thought the Andromeda Strain was going to kill him. His breathing rate also became unsustainably high.

At that point, I decided to ask him if he wanted to be resuscitated (if necessary) or prolong life. His advance directive had said he did not want to prolong life, but his reaction of panic (to the doctor pushing a DNR in his hearing) seemed to indicate otherwise. So I asked him - 20 times. And he calmed down after I explained that I was going to ask about his preferences, then back him up on his wishes.

He had to answer by squeezing my hand, so to rule out reflexes and such, I asked the question in different ways, sometimes asking him to respond if he did NOT want to prolong life, and other times to do so if he DID want to prolong. Some of the time, I also asked him to squeeze my hand to indicate "Yes" answer, and NOT to squeeze to indicate "Yes" at other times.

After a matrix of asking the question 20 times (and in different ways) had been completed, there was more than 87 percent confidence that he DID want to prolong life, since he had indicated that he wanted to do so 17 out of the 20 times I asked him.

Going on Life Support for Real:

Unfortunately, the same doctor came back about four hours later, and began to push a DNR again. I told her to take it out in the hall, so we went out of the hospital room. However, when I again would not agree to a DNR, she got upset and started YELLING at me about it, increasingly acting like you might expect someone to act if they had lost it emotionally. Before long, everyone in the corridor was staring in her direction.

But the worst part is that she had been loud enough, for long enough, that it panicked my friend again. And I could not calm him down this time. His breathing rate was in the high 40's for hours, which was unsustainable. When the shift changed, the night doctor said that he would not survive the night unless he was put on a ventilator, so he was put on one at about 1:30 a.m.

A couple of weeks later, it was proposed that fluid around one of his lungs should be removed, and that he should get a PEG (abdominal wall) feeding tube instead of the one routed through his nose. I was in favor of this, because people I knew said that getting rid of the feeding tube in their nose was a big improvement in their quality of life, mainly because it eliminated a recurring sore throat.

If all of this had been done, I may have considered the hospital's preference that dialysis be done for a trial period. But all of this had not been done.

Bioethics Board Denies Important Procedures Without Informing Me:

Because these procedures were NOT done, all bets were off in regard to limiting dialysis to a trial period as far as I was concerned. Denial of some of the procedures was setting him up to fail.

I did not find out until some time later that those procedures had been denied by the HMO Bioethics Board, yet I had not been informed of this as POA. It was not until the next November that I discovered (from a doctor with some candor) that they never had removed the fluid from around his lung, and that this was why. (That might explain their failure to provide his records that included any of this time period.)

After a while, by early April 2023, he began to tolerate being weaned off of the ventilator, and he began to be able to respond to questions by moving his legs on command. This provided two communication modes, and it looked like more may develop. I asked him one of the previous questions again a few times, and got a similar answer.

I would have asked more, but one of the doctors said it could tax him too much. Yet at the same time, the doctor was saying he was not responsive. That begs the question of how a question can be taxing if a patient supposedly is not responsive? (But the fact is that he was responsive, and his response latency was improving.)


Rescuing a Friend from an HMO "Death Panel" (And Yes, Death Panels are REAL!)

In mid April 2023, the HMO Bioethics Board ruled that they would OVERRULE me as POA, and UNILATERALLY deprive him of dialysis - with the express intent that this result in his DEATH.

They ruled this way, even though I had explained to them that my friend had unambiguously indicated that he DID want to prolong life in March.

They allowed a brief time to try to transfer him to another hospital, but they provided NO assistance at all in this (when regulations appear to indicate that they should assist in this), and I later found that my efforts to get him transferred had been undermined.

I had also tried to relocate him to various skilled nursing facilities, but that was also undermined, usually by a hospital case manager calling the facilities to discourage them from taking him. (Some of facilities told me that this is what happened.) When it looked like I had something arranged, the hospital would move the goal posts, communicate things that discouraged people at the facilities, withdraw authorizations, and/or increasingly say more aspects had to be private pay.

A couple of weeks later (ironically, on his birthday), the Bioethics board declared that his dialysis would end in two days, and that he would experience "a natural dying process." Specifically, low points of the written communication included the following:

"...so that you will have written confirmation, the medical team intends for [patient's name] HD [hemodialysis] session on [date] to be his final session..."

"..our intent will be to maintain patients's [imposed] DNR status, discontinue HD, and allow a natural dying process to occur..."

"Death due to renal failure is not immediate, so it is expected that [patient name] will persist for several days or more once HD is discontinued."

And over my written objection as his POA, they stopped his dialysis two days later. After a several days without dialysis, he had to go on a ventilator AGAIN, and he was never able to get off of it after that. (However, the HMO's undisclosed failure to remove fluid from around his lung was also a factor in this. The failure to remove the fluid was not disclosed until November.)

The Rescue:

At this point, there were few options left. Ultimately, when the head of the Bioethics Board was on vacation, my friend was physically "rescued" from the HMO hospital, by having an ambulance (private pay to the tune of $4k) move him 70 miles - to sub-acute care congregate home in another county. (The HMO may have been in the wrong in insisting that this transfer be private pay, since they later had to pay for it.)

This new location was closer to where I lived (making it more practical to visit him), and it was in another jurisdiction, where his rights as a resident of the new county could presumably be asserted in order to keep the HMO from clawing him back to their hospital in the other county.

The literal recurring life and death nature of this caused unbearable stress, since it seemed that failing to rescue my friend from his HMO, even if I did everything I could, would be the same as letting him down or violating his trust.

My Own Health Crashes from the Stress of Recurring Imposed Life and Death Situations:

Ultimately, my own health failed dramatically over a period of only a couple of hours, just as it appeared that all had been lost on the morning of 16 May, 2023. My doctor said that I had completely depleted my reserves, and had become exhausted in the fullest sense of the word.

The potential outcomes my doctor warned about (for failing to get enough rest from then on) were, and still are, scary. (This is part of why I could not push with the vigor I normally would when trying to get to the 2024 eclipse after the Frontier Internet and phone outage.)

The Most Important Parts of His Rescue Happened While I was too Ill to Act:

I have mentioned prayer in previous eclipse journals, and it applies here as well. This is because, just as I became temporarily incapacitated myself from all of the stress and short notice sleep deprivation, and while I was so spent that I could do nothing but lay in bed - that was the time that the most important aspects of my friend's rescue happened.

At the very time when I had no power to do anything at all, and during the very hours I was in this helpless state, many beneficial things that were beyond my control happened:

By this time, a lot of damage had been done to my friend by his HMO depriving him of dialysis for a week. And when a medical transport came to the congregate home to take him to a private pay ($600 per session) dialysis clinic, they found that he was too unstable to go to a dialysis clinic, and said that he had to be taken to the NEAREST hospital.

As it turned out, the nearest hospital was NOT with his HMO, and they had a completely different attitude. This non-HMO hospital was success oriented. His HMO mildly tried to claw him back, but I asserted his rights as a resident of Los Angeles County (by virtue of his being in the Northridge Congregate home prior to the current hospitalization), and the HMO relented.

And after a close call over the first two days at this new success oriented, non-HMO hospital, his condition turned around within two weeks.

When I recovered enough to be able to take a taxi to the new hospital, and they learned of the circumstances that brought him there, they said he was the first patient they ever had there who had been saved from the decree of a Bioethics Board.

Meanwhile, his condition improved at this new success oriented hospital. He was mouthing words within two more weeks, and was discharged to a sub-acute skilled nursing facility another couple of weeks later. He was intermittently audibly speaking by about two weeks after he was admitted to the skilled nursing facility.

Because he was talking past his ventilator, he could not speak very loud, and it did not sound like his usual voice. The facility tried a speech enabled ventilator attachment a couple of times, but he seemed to do better without it.

Over the rest of the summer, he was safely out of his HMO's clutches.

Bureaucracy Puts Him in Harm's Way Again

Due to the situation with his HMO, I sought to get him out of his HMO well before the normal Medicare Open Enrollment period. He qualified for Medicare "Special Help" which should make it possible to switch providers by the next quarter. This could make it possible to get him out of his HMO, and into regular Medicare with a supplement, as soon as 1 October.

However, the State level services fouled up and enrolled him in the same HMO, when I had specified something entirely different for him. I had made the selection within a week of when the State provided the forms, so I was timely. But the worker for the State had apparently lost the POA, etc., documents that were provided with his application, and she refused to recognize me as his representative so I could reverse their error. The worker offered no timely solution. This ultimately contributed to his death, by overloading me and making it impossible to get him out of his HMO in time.

I normally would not mention such details, but there were many irregularities in the HMO and in this State matter, and there was no official mechanism to address it. I wondered how many other patients or advocates went through something similar, or patients who didn't survive something similar. The only agency I thought was really good was Medicare. They were amazing (in a good way) by comparison. And the success oriented hospital in the northwest part of L.A. was amazing as well. But I can't mention its name because I have to keep things vague for HIPAA reasons.


The HMO Gets Their Hooks in My Friend Again, with Fatal Results

In mid September 2023, my friend had a crisis and was taken from the skilled nursing facility to the nearest hospital, which was a non-HMO hospital. I visited him there and spoke with the doctors and other personnel.

When I saw him, he again indicated that he wanted to prolong life, though in a less convincing way than he had the previous March. He was in decline, and did not have much quality of life to look forward to. But if he wanted to prolong, I would back him up for as long as doing so was feasible for him.

But behind the scenes, the HMO was pressuring the hospital to transfer him to one of their hospitals. (The pressure they brought to bear, as related by the non-HMO hospital, was quite dramatic.) But it wasn't all out in the open.

When people from the non-HMO hospital called me, they said he was being taken back to the nursing facility (and I think they really thought that this was the case), but it turned out that his HMO had instead had the ambulance take him to their own hospital.

At this point, his HMO had their hooks in him again, and they again deprived him of dialysis, using the antiquated Bioethics Board ruling of the previous April as their justification. His dialysis catheter was being changed by the non-HMO hospital at the time the HMO transferred him, and the HMO refused to put in a catheter as a way to enforce their dialysis ban. And they again stated INTENT to end his life via withheld care, regardless of my position on the matter as his POA.

Because his transfer to the HMO hospital had happened without my consent (and apparently without the knowledge of some at the non-HMO hospital), I refused to sign the admission papers for the HMO hospital. I also refused to provide consent on the phone, telling them that I did not authorize the transfer. (Not sure how they plan to bill Medicare, when there was no consent for admission.)

And so, at a time when he was nearly weaned off of dialysis, his HMO deprived him of dialysis yet again, and he began to succumb to this (and to the fluid that was still around his lung) over the next two and a half months. They soon transferred him back to the subacute skilled nursing facility - but without a dialysis catheter.

In late November, he was admitted to a different HMO hospital, mainly for high BUN and other abnormal tests. I approved his November admission by phone, CONTINGENT on his getting dialysis if he needed it. But they deprived him of dialysis anyway.

Inconsistencies at the HMO Hospital:

On 25 November, the HMO hospital claimed that he was in complete kidney failure, and that he was "not making any urine." What they said informed my decisions of that day. However, I later found that the statement about complete kidney failure was not true at all. The HMO had exaggerated his condition, possibly to create the impression that this was his last rodeo. And, since the HMO had been withholding certain types of care, it could very well become just that.

Duting this hospitalization, the HMO wanted to take him off the ventilator, but since they had refused to remove the fluid from around his lung, I would not let them take him off of it. Pulmonary issues had been a sore point with him ever since the careless doctor had panicked him the previous March.

A day or two later, one of the more aggressive palliative care people (who I had not even engaged beyond a preliminary consulting role) misrepresented part of a conversation, and told a doctor to reduce his oxygen without the doctor discussing it first. (This palliative person was expressing a lot of medical opinions, when it was obvious that her medical knowlege was very limited.)

I did not learn of the change in his oxygen until I spoke with a doctor about 24 hours later, on 29 November. At that time, the doctor thought that he was terminal, but did not think that he would pass away very soon, indicating that it could be several days to a week or more. She said that he was only then beginning to have kidney failure, as opposed to (supposedly) having been in complete kidney failure since the previous Saturday.

His Last Rodeo:

However, he unexpectedly passed away from heart failure less than eight hours later. This was an unexpected but better and faster way to go, assuming that he was not experiencing air hunger. But the palliative people dropped the ball concerning having someone with him, and he died alone. (Regarding that, I can only hope he was in a fog where he could not perceive his surroundings, nor care if he could, much like the fog I was in when I almost bought the farm in September 2019.)

My friend passed away in the late night of 29 November, 2023. The fact that he lived 2.5 months without any dialysis at all shows how close he had come to being successfully weaned off of it. The bottom line: DON'T use an HMO if you want to SURVIVE such a situation!

Blindsided by More Problems, Postmortem:

After my elderly friend passed away in November 2023, related problems continued. For example, the previously purchased prearranged funeral plan he had was not so prearranged. It turned out that the burial plots he had were incompatible with the full casket burial that had been arranged. When his arrangements were made and paid for the previous April, the cemetery had represented, in writing, that the plots were compatible with the full casket burial arrangements that were being made. But they did not even disclose that there was a problem until NINE DAYS Postmortem.

And they would not work toward a reasonable solution after they belatedly disclosed the problem. It was either cremate him or buy a larger plot for a small fortune. Since it was a little late to ask him about cremation, and because his funds could be inaccessible for some time after he passed away (and because I did not then know if Medi-Cal would have a claim on said funds), I had to file a complaint against the cemetery with the State. (I also prayed, as with other difficulties.) The solution was that the cemetery provided a full size burial plot at THEIR expense.

Unfortunately, all of this led to a long delay in his burial (and his death certificate). And he was not interred until 23 January, 2024. Almost two months after he passed away. The cemetery is not named here because the solution was acceptable in terms of what I thought he would have wanted, even though the matter still resulted in stress, anguish, and a lot of lost time.


Relative Priorities: Eclipses don't care if you see them, but friends do.

All of this obviously has nothing to do with eclipses, but it shows that I had responsibilities that were far more important than a total solar eclipse.

In the end, my friend had at least 6 months and 13 days (perhaps as much as 8 months and 15 days) more life than he would have had if his HMO had been allowed to have their way without resistance. A total solar eclipse does not hold a candle to that.

An eclipse does not care if anyone is there to see it. But a friend cares if you are there for them.

Also, I had become acquainted with a few other patient advocates along the way, and the fellowship of patient advocates is a sweet one, possibly because there are so few of them. When this journey began, I had no idea that I would end up being a patient advocate, or how grueling, yet rewarding, being an advocate can be.

And it was a way to make a difference, even if just for one person. On my 1994 eclipse trip to Bolivia, I had met Willma Alcocer. She was then a director at a primary school in Cochabamba. She was person who made a difference in many people's lives. And knowing her, even briefly, made me want to make a difference too. A difference far beyond anything to do with eclipses.

In addition to the above, many difficult things had been happening concurrently. One of these difficult things was that Willma Alcocer passed away in 2023, only two weeks before she was going to legally relocate to the USA - and to a place only 20 miles from where I live.


Several Other Friends Pass Away:

On 22 August, 2023, Willma Alcocer, one of the most remarkable people I had ever met, and one of the parties to whom I had dedicated my 1994 eclipse journal (and my 1997 story "Syzygy"), passed away in Bolivia. We first met in Bolivia during my solo expedition to the 3 Nov. 1994 total solar eclipse. She was then a director at a primary school in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

In more recent times, she had retired, and had been trying to legally relocate to the USA for years, but encountered red tape. Then her health became an issue, in that she became too weak to travel. She had heart surgery in 2018 to become strong enough to make the trip, but had a long recovery.

But then came COVID, and with it, overreaction and power grabs by many liberal governments. The 2021 administration in the USA imposed a Vaccine Mandate (only for legal immigrants) that was not lifted until May of 2023. She was not going to get the COVID vaccine because her elder sister had apparently died from a large amount of clotting - only a week after being vaccinated.

Willma was finally going to move to the USA in early September, 2023, and her sister had gone down to Bolivia to prepare her for the move and accompany her to the USA.

But she died only two weeks before she was going to move to the USA, to her sister's home, which was only 20 miles from me. AND, it was found that one of the same political people who was a problem for both of us in 1994 (see my 1994 total solar eclipse journal for details) allegedly contributed to her death by doing things that stressed her for a prolonged period of time.

I was a basket case for months after Willma died, at a time so close to when she was going to move here. Apathy was one of the things that accompanied the grief, and this made it harder to stand up for my friend against his HMO, or to do other things.

Dealing with the HMO was particularly difficult during the worst of the grief over Willma's death. If my voice broke while speaking with the HMO, they seemed to see it as weakness, and then would aggressively pile on pressure and try to get me flustered. Those people at the HMO (especially those who acted as though they had been in the CCP), were absolutely heartless.

To counter this, I had to be "cried out" over Willma shortly before I contacted the HMO on a given day. So, I found combinations of music and pictures of Willma that would set off rain, and would go through that anguish before contacting the HMO. This probably led to more rain than would otherwise have fallen, but the nature of the HMO made it necessary.

Sometimes, it is OK to be broken when one so precious as Willma has left this earth, especially under the circumstances she endured. And even though it hurts.
- It is then easier to acknowledge our helplessness, and just do what a helpless person can do, which is next to nothing. And to grieve and pray. And to leave any recompense to Him.
- Because when God puts together what is broken, it can become better than before it was broken.
- He is the ONLY cure for sorrow, pain, and brokenness from such loss.
- Confiando en Dios. Anque la vida duela. Solo Dios es fiel.
- The words in the Roberto Orellana song "La Paz de Dios" include the phrase: "Busca la paz y olvida el enojo" (Seek peace and forget anger). When broken and submissive before the Lord, this seems more reasonable, and can help lead to at least some restoration of inner peace.

I also didn't care at all about eclipses for almost six months after her death. In fact, since I had met her on an eclipse trip, and eclipses reminded me of her, I almost DID NOT WANT to see another eclipse during the worst months of the grief. However, this had no effect on whether or not I could go to an eclipse, or even prepare for one, since I could then do neither because of responsibility for my friend, plus two months of problems with the cemetery that followed his passing.

Besides Willma, three other people I knew, including this friend for whom I was POA, and my late mom's best friend since her school days, had also died in the span of only a few months. During the same period of time, I belatedly learned that my friend German Morales (of ASO in Bolivia) had also died.

Return to Local Table of Contents


Picking Up Where I Left Off in Late 2020 on Eclipse Prep - 3 Years Later, in Early 2024:

By early February 2024, the grief had become less debilitating, in large part due to the kind support of one of Willma's nieces.

After this, I began to have some initiative again, and I half-heartedly resumed preparing for the 2024 total solar eclipse. When it became apparent that I WOULD be able to finish the eclipse experiment and imaging setup in time, I pursued it with more purpose.

At that point, I DID want to go to the 2024 eclipse. This is because each total solar eclipse I observed after 1994 had helped dilute bad memories of the impositions of rich and political men, the illness (requiring increased surgery to correct) that resulted, and their limiting the time that Willma and I had together.

However, the state of exhaustion that had begun in May 2023 was still an issue, in that I lacked stamina to drive even a fraction of the distance required to get to the total solar eclipse path. The symptoms were remarkably similar to those that resulted from the impositions of rich men in Bolivia some 30 years earlier, and one of my doctors had said that it could take at least a month of bed rest, followed by appropriate exercise, to regain much stamina.

Also, the eclipse setup was too large to take on an airplane, being the equivalent of eight large carry on bags. And I had a medical lifting restriction that prevented handling more than one small carry on myself, and I usually had to put such things on the seat of a 4-wheel rollator walker to move them very far. This made flying alone impossible.

In the End, it All Came Down to the Unreliability of a Telecommunications Company:

The search was on for a ride to Texas to see the eclipse. By 18 March, I had composed messages (in text files) to ask several people I knew if they, or someone they knew, could either take me and my eclipse setup to the eclipse, or be a driver to get my car there.

I was only hours from sending these messages out when my Phone AND Internet (BOTH by Frontier) went down. And these stayed down for NINE DAYS. I had no way to communicate with anyone except via a Tracfone I had acquired for the trip, but its number was unfamiliar to people I could reach by phone. I also did not know the phone numbers of most of my other friends and contacts, and only had their email. The excuses Frontier provided for not being "able" to timely restore service were way out there, and are covered below.

In the end, it became CERTAIN that I WOULD HAVE made it to the eclipse if the Frontier outage had been only 2-3 days shorter (that is, a week or less of continuous outage, as opposed to nine days). It all came down to the amount of lead time one of the otherwise available drivers would have had to give his employer in order to get time off work to go to the eclipse.

Also, the time required on my Tracfone to try to get Frontier to act - was time that could have otherwise been spent resting and physically getting ready to go to the eclipse. If that time had not been lost, it would have also been possible to go with a BACKUP plan for a ride. In order for the backup to work, I would have had to be ready to go a full day earlier than I was. It certainly would have been possible to be ready one day earlier if all of that time had not been lost due to Frontier.

But Frontier had NO sense of urgency in restoring service, even for a disabled person. And because they apparently have a MONOPOLY on the lines here, they would restore service when they felt like it. And when they felt like it was a few days TOO LATE to make it possible to arrange a ride (with my equipment) to the 2024 eclipse.

For this reason, Frontier's excuses (and the implications this could have if there was a natural disaster that caused widespread outages) are immortalized below. The harm was irreparable, in that I will be older when other total solar eclipses occur, and those likely to occur in my lifetime only be observable from other countries.

It could cost up to tens of thousands of dollars (that I can't responsibly spend) to get myself and my equipment to a suitable foreign eclipse site, and to fund assistants to register all of the instrumentation with U.S. Customs, then get it all to a future foreign eclipse of sufficient duration. On a foreign trip, it would also be difficult (though not impossible) to fully black out rooms I sleep in, and limit sunlight exposure, to the extent advisable for my condition.

Had I been able to get to the domestic 2024 total solar eclipse, I could have handled all of the equipment myself (using a rollator walker to move each box or case), but this scenario is not possible at a foreign eclipse. Assistants would be required to get myself and eclipse instruments to a foreign total solar eclipse. (Of course, if Frontier wants to fund all that is needed for me to use the instrumentation at a foreign eclipse to partially compensate for their long outage...)

After all the catching up following more than three years of lost time, it all came down to the unreliability of a telecommunications company in the weeks before the eclipse.

All I have to show for all of my efforts in planning, etc., and motel reservations, etc., is a $229.98 charge on my credit card for having to cancel my 3-day reservations for two rooms, on the day before I would have otherwise arrived in Waco, TX, plus a similar penalty for late property taxes.

It WAS Adequately Clear at the Site I Selected in Waco, TX.

My brother in Colorado was able to go to the path of totality, and he stayed at the same motel where I had reservations. He and my 94 year old Dad both observed the eclipse from there, as I would have. The motel grounds were better for my applications than the McLane Stadium grounds (for which I had written the eclipse procedure) would have been.

And, it was adequately CLEAR there during the entire duration of totality! There were high, thin clouds, but they were very thin. Almost a full solar diameter of corona (with a lot of structure) was visible all the way around the moon, with more than a solar diameter of corona being visible in two directions. The boundary of the lunar umbra was not visible from there during mid totality due to low clouds near the horizon, but the corona was visible.

So, it is almost certain that I would have obtained good results from all six corona cameras in the setup (including extreme close up video of second and third contact) if I had been there. Those who would have wanted to see such material have Frontier Communications to thank for the lack of it.

Photos and descriptions of equipment (for the total eclipse) is included in this web page, as are visible and H-Alpha photos of the partial eclipse, as seen from L.A. It is hoped that the good performance I got from the equipment (and surprisingly, from myself) during test runs (for the total eclipse) will be added as an Appendix within a few weeks of the eclipse date.

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Similarities Between the 1994 and 2024 Solar Eclipses (and what preceded them)

Similarities Between the 1994 and 2024 Eclipses (and related trips) The 1994 and 2024 eclipses had several similarities. The paths of the of totality with respect to the solar azimuth were similar. But differences included the solar elevation angle and the direction the umbra moved. Motion of the 2024 umbra with respect to the solar azimuth was similar that of 1994, except that the relative direction of motion for the umbra is reversed in 2024. This caused the most impressive views of the 2024 umbra to occur during and after totality.

There were other similarities between 1994 and 2024, but these were more down to earth. The eclipse expeditions planned for both years were preceded by highly disruptive problems with telecommunication companies (Excel in 1994 and Frontier in 2024) - to such an extent that it impacted each expedition.

The Telecommunications Debacle of October 1994 (Excel):

Shortly before my 1994 eclipse trip to Bolivia, my MCI phone service was "slammed" to a different carrier without my consent - TWICE! I did not learn of the change until I got the bill (with exorbitant phone rates) from the new and unfamiliar carrier in October. This meant that the unauthorized carrier change had happened in September or perhaps earlier.

After some investigation, it was found that an unethical sales person, whom I had never even spoken to (and at a company I had never spoken to), unilaterally changed my phone service from MCI to AT&T. Then, almost immediately, it was changed again from AT&T to a company I had never even heard of called Excel.

It was barely possible to change my phone service back to MCI before I left for Bolivia. However, all of this required a LOT of time that had been set aside for rest and final preparations.

Further, all of this rendered my MCI International calling card unusable. And it was not possible to get a new MCI International calling card in time for the trip. This increased per-minute phone call cost from Bolivia by a factor of three or four over what it would have been otherwise.

Worse, the considerable time lost to this 1994 telecommunications debacle prevented getting enough rest immediately before the expedition, which in turn made my health susceptible to the unexpected political nonsense (from the brother of a 1993 Bolivian Presidential candidate and his rich cronies) that was unexpectedly encountered - starting on my first day in Bolivia.

Following the 1994 eclipse expedition, I sought to settle the Excel bill in a way that had a per-minute charge that was equivalent to MCI's rates. (There was ZERO chance that I was going to pay the full (high) amount of the bill for service I had not authorized.)

After discussions with Excel, they were going to charge only what MCI would have charged, but only if I documented what the MCI charges would have been for every call on the phone bill, and that was a LOT of phone calls. That was a ridiculous amount of documentation, given that I did not make or authorize the switch from MCI to their company. And I didn't have time for all of that.

Ultimately, they relented and said that I didn't have to pay the bill at all. This may have been partly because they acknowledged that the unethical sales person who slammed my phone service to their company worked for them.

More detail on this (and the 1994 eclipse itself, plus Bolivian political intrigue I was involuntarily exposed to back then) is in Section 1 of my "Eclipse Chaser's Journal, Part 3, The Wild One: Total Solar Eclipse of November 3, 1994."

The Telecommunications Debacle of March 2024 (Frontier):

In 2024, a sudden and LONG outage of my Phone AND Internet service, BOTH by Frontier Communications, began late on the night of 18 March 2024 - only about two weeks before I needed to leave for the 2024 eclipse, if traveling by road.

This was a BIG problem, because, I was then temporarily not strong enough to be comfortable driving myself to Texas, or even across town for that matter. Therefore, I was communicating online to see if a combined trip could be arranged with another observer in my area. However, the sudden and complete failure of Frontier's Internet service pulled the rug right out from under this, just as as I had almost finished composing messages to a number of people.

The long outage of BOTH Phone AND Internet service by Frontier Communications, and the fact that they would not even provide an estimate for when service may be restored, poses an extreme risk to the 2024 eclipse expedition. An expedition that required hundreds of hours to prepare for over a period of years, not to mention funds required.

In addition to eclipse related matters, it was not possible to communicate with my doctors on their patient portals during a fairly critical time. The long Frontier outage also resulted in my property taxes (which I pay online) being late for the FIRST time ever, and penalties for that cost as much as what two months of Frontier's (non) service would cost.

As of when this was written (offline) after close to a week of the Frontier outage, Frontier has shown no concern for the difficulty their LONG outage (described below) is causing, even though they had repeatedly been made aware of the importance and urgency of the situation. In fact, they would not even provide an estimate for when service would be restored. (Other than a promised time of restored service that they failed to meet three days into the outage.)

Therefore, if the long March 2024 outage by Frontier (which was still ongoing at the time this was composed offline), contributes significantly to not being able to physically get myself and the eclipse equipment to the 2024 total solar eclipse, it will have obviously prevented getting photos, video, and experiment results at the total eclipse. In that situation, a description of Frontier's actions will be a permanent part of this 2024 eclipse web page.

This material is also included here because posting it is the only practical way to timely provide information for a consumer complaint that I can steer authorities toward, when the only way of communicating with them is by speaking on a Tracfone. (Ironically, filing complaints often requires Internet access, but part of the complaint is about a long outage of Internet access!)

Nine Consecutive Days without Frontier Internet OR Land Line Phone:

It was only possible to upload this web page shortly after the Frontier outage because it was written offline. It was possible to upload it shortly after service was at long last restored, several hours short of NINE DAYS of outage. Internet service resumed just as I was about to briefly have limited Internet access through a third party. The Frontier outage did not end until 27 March.

My medical situation did not do well during the outage, possibly due to effects of a prescription. However, I could not communicate with a doctor's office about it via their online patient portal due to the Frontier Internet service outage. (Phone calls to them did not get a response.) Therefore, I eventually had to unilaterally stop taking the blood pressure prescription that I suspected was making my symptoms worse. (It appears that the prescription was causing weakness, but I am not back to where I was before I was put on it prior to the Frontier outage. I might have been able to go off of it sooner if I'd been able to reach my doctors via patient portals during the outage.)

A long outage of both Internet AND phone was and is a big deal for a disabled person who was not even up to driving to a nearby store during the outage.

Details About the LONG Frontier Outage, and its Consequences:

Details about the LONG Frontier Outage and the hardship it has caused, and the complexity it continued to cause, follows. It will remain a part of this journal because it DID prevent my being able to get to the eclipse. And it is known with near certainty that I COULD have made it to the path of totality if the long Frontier outage had been at least two days shorter.

The extended Frontier outage also prevented ordering last minute items that my equipment tests had shown would be beneficial, and it prevented the above mentioned important matter of follow up on arranging transportation.

More importantly, the Frontier outage has held up specifying the final details on a grave marker for a late friend, as well as the above noted communicating with my own doctors via their patient portals, etc. There were a myriad of other things that the long Frontier outage also interfered with.

Due to years of being Power of Attorney for an incapacitated elderly friend, and having to deal with many contentious parties in the process, it had not been possible to complete preparations for the 2024 eclipse equipment very far in advance. And other aspects of the planned expedition were similarly affected.

In addition to this, my health was temporarily in a state where I was not expecting that I would be able to make the three day drive to the eclipse myself (as noted above). I had not by then found a way to travel with someone else, though I had begun communications related to that just before the Frontier outage.

Also, it was almost impossible to find and book a plane ticket without being able to go online or physically travel somewhere to arrange it (which I also could not do at the time). Also, I was not sure I was even physically up to traveling solo on a plane. And the eclipse setup was too large to take on a plane in carry on bags, and I lacked large bags that could allow adequate space padding, not to mention that I could not ferry that many bags around myself, being handicapped and all.

Lack of Internet service also meant lack of email. And because I did not then have phone numbers or street addresses for the people I had communicated with by email, there was no way to look into a joint trip after Frontier's service for BOTH Frontier phone and Internet stopped working.

The fact that telecommunications company has "an outage" isn't the problem. However, the fact that Frontier Communications had such a LONG outage of MULTIPLE services for MORE than a WEEK, and that they had no sense of urgency in disclosing or correcting the outage (even for a disabled customer), which was due to their lines, WAS a problem.

Complacency of an Apparent Monopoly:

Verizon/Frontier appear to more or less have a MONOPOLY on the lines in my area, so they have tended to do what they please, without regard to customer needs (including the need to use online portals with my doctors, and the urgency of the eclipse), which they were repeatedly informed of.

When, after about four days of outage, Frontier was pressed on the matter of even estimating a date of restored service, the excuses they came up with defied even the imagination. Their nonsensical excuses are included below partly for the entertainment value.

When Frontier was first contacted (via my old Trac flip phone) on Tuesday, 19 March (right after I became aware that BOTH the phone and Internet had ceased working, which was about 12 hours after I found that Internet service stopped), they said they would have to send a person to my house. However, they said that it would be two more days before that person would arrive.

I had not contacted Frontier in the few hours after I noticed that the Internet service had gone out (when Internet was the only outage I was aware of) because Frontier's Internet service had always been unreliable. It has frequently cut out for several seconds to a few minutes at a time, several times each day, and outages lasting an hour or more had happened every now and then. So, initially, I thought it was just another (brief, but all too typical) Frontier Internet outage.

While on the subject of performance, the speed of Frontier Internet service was only a fraction of the speed they charged for, and it often struggled to stream even 720p video, with the video all too often pausing while "circle of death" spun in the middle of the screen. (I had been waiting for Starlink to become available in my area before making a switch away from Frontier.)

Frontier did some sort of remote check where they had me unplug both the phone and the router, and they then said that they thought it was their line. But they also emphasized that the issue might be with wiring in the house. However, they would not schedule a technician visit until two days later.

(The box that Frontier had installed outside the house lacked an accessible phone connector (as older phone boxes used to have). If it had not lacked this connector, I could have connected phone to where their box connects to the house, to determine whether lines in the house were involved.)

When I arranged the tech appointment, I repeatedly informed Frontier that I could see a text on my simple Trac flip phone, but that I could NOT SEND a text, due to the nature of the phone verses my condition. So what do they do? They sent a text that seemed to anticipate a text response.

So I called Frontier on my Tracfone to confirm the appointment, but it took FIVE attempts, each going in the same loop over and over, to get to where I could even address a service appointment.

But then their system showed a different appointment time, so I said "No" to confirming the new time. What did the Frontier system do? It thanked me for CONFIRMING the less appropriate appointment time - a time that I had NOT confirmed! So I had to repeat the procedure - to cancel the unwanted imposed appointment time - and reschedule the original appointment time. It took over an HOUR to do this via their quirky system - a system with no available people.

Then, later in the week, and a few MINUTES before the end of the time window for when the Frontier technician was supposed to come (and the close of business for their office) they sent a text saying that the problem is with their lines, that there is an OUTAGE in my area, and that there is no need for a technician to show up. But they provided no estimate for when it would be fixed.

Thus, it took Frontier THREE DAYS - just to figure out that they had an outage. An outage that I had informed them of over two days earlier.

So I called Frontier again to try and get an ETA on restored service. It took the better part of an hour (of Tracfone minutes I was paying for) to reach a real person. They then said that both the phone and Internet would be restored in 12 to 18 hours, which would correspond to no later than 9:00 on Friday morning, 22 March.

On Friday, 10:00 a.m. came and went, and there is still no phone or Internet service. Then noon came and went. And it is here that the plot thickens. And the nonsense that followed made me hope that my none of my pension funds were invested in Frontier:

On Friday afternoon, after almost FOUR days of outage, Frontier said that they had NO IDEA of when service would be restored. I reminded them of my disability, the doctor portal situation, the eclipse, and the travel difficulty situations that all made the matter more urgent, but they obviously did NOT care.

I demanded to talk to a supervisor or someone else in authority would have some answers, but the Frontier person REFUSED to connect me with anyone else for several minutes.

Finally, I was connected with someone who said they were a supervisor having a different name than the person I had just spoken with - but the voice sounded almost identical to the person I first spoke with.

And, the same people at Frontier (NONE of them appeared to be in the USA) REFUSED to connect me to anyone in the USA concerning the Frontier outage. (Frontier uses these people in other countries, so the fact that they did not connect me with anyone in the USA is on Frontier.)

There was no viable way to report this to Frontier (since these are the people you get when calling Frontier), so this web page may be the only way that the matter can be reported.

I only spoke with one person at Frontier who seemed to care at all (on 23 or 24 March), but he had no authority to do anything. He was in India, and he or those he knew remembered the 1995 total solar eclipse in India, so he seemed to understand the rarity of a total solar eclipse in a given country. He may have also been the first person to actually type in that I was disabled.

Frontier eventually claimed that the outage was caused by someone "stealing" a length of cable that had 13 twisted pairs of wire in it. (Possible, since it is Los Angeles, where theft has all but been decriminalized.) And here, things got more interesting:

Frontier Excuses - NOT Results! (They have to "Order" Equipment to Splice a Cable!)

Frontier said that they had to "order" the cable to be able to fix the problem, apparently meaning that Frontier did NOT have cable like this in any of their local facilities. (A telecom company that has NO appropriate spare cable on hand! Fancy that.)

AND, Frontier said that they had to "ORDER" the EQUIPMENT required to SPLICE the cable, meaning that they did NOT even have equipment to splice the WIRE cable! (I recorded this nonsense from Frontier. They say they record the calls, so because that makes it 2-party knowledge, is is legal to record them.) And they said it multiple times on multiple days.

I don't know if what Frontier said above is true, but my first impressions are that such excuses (having to "order" equipment to splice a cable, for example) were way out there.

To top it off, Frontier had NO estimate on when they might restore service. They would not even bound the time by saying it would be less than WEEKS (plural). So, all I could do was periodically pick up my phone to see if it had a dial tone.

At the time, I did not even have a way to get to a nearby store to acquire a hotspot with related service to fill in the gap. And Frontier repeatedly refused to provide a hotspot when asked. (Also, given the apparent monopoly, they said my area was not eligible for Frontier fiber service.)

One would think that a PHONE / INTERNET COMPANY would have the equipment needed to SPLICE a wire cable. We're talking about multiple conductor wire cable, not a fiber optic cable.

Given the above, I pity the poor soul who has Frontier as their only service for phone and Internet in the event of a natural disaster. If Frontier had to "order" the equipment to splice a WIRE cable, I can only imagine how much stuff they would have to "order" (and the related delays) in the event of widespread outages of either wired or fiber service that could follow a natural disaster.

Since California has earthquakes, I don't want to be one of those poor souls, so I will be looking for an alternative once the 2024 eclipse date passes, whether I make it there or not. Because of the apparent monopoly, there is no alternative for a land line, so the solution will have to be wireless.

Maybe they are not a true phone or telecommunication company? Maybe they sold off resources required to perform basic repair on phone lines, to make stocks perform better in the short term? (Sacrificing long term performance for short term gains seems increasingly common with publicly traded companies.) It is my impression that they may be little more than a line leaser, only re-selling use of existing phone lines, and adding their overhead and institutional inefficiency to the mix - while bringing nothing to the table that benefits the customer.


Of Monopolies, and the False Notion that Capitalism is the Same as Freedom:

Before Frontier provided phone and Internet service in this area, it was provided by Verizon. I was not a fan of Verizon, but at least Verizon's service (which presumably used the same lines, as Verizon then owned the lines) was more reliable than Frontier - in the years before Frontier took over here. (I did not choose Frontier. They just took over service in this area several years ago.)

When Verizon provided service here (essentially as a monopoly, since any other carrrier had to lease their lines), they did not honor their price for the first two years. (Their "reasons" were quite amusing: That their "Revenue Assurance Department" mandated that they violate their 2-year customer agreements in terms of pricing.)

Verizon had the same brief (seconds to minutes) outages that happened several times every day (which prevented downloading my webmail archive to a local email client). But the speed was occasionally a little better (could handle 720p video more often), and outages lasting for hours were less common. And they didn't have any outages that lasted entire days or weeks.

Either way, it is an argument against monopolies. And if even a regional company has a local monopoly and fails to perform, it should be broken up just like AT&T was in the 1980's. After a few years, lower prices and better service followed that breakup.

Either that, or Internet service should not be privatized at all. No essential service should be privatized as the only customer option. At the very least, non-privatized Internet service should be available to everyone, then those who want more bandwidth can go with private alternatives.

Had this been the case, Internet service would be more reliable, and I would have both made it to the path of totality and been able to interact with my doctors at a critical time, etc. Not to mention the greater benefit that increased Internet reliability would have for everyone else.

Even without the above telecommunications debacle: As noted earlier in this journal, it was the "Ethics Board" of a corporation (an HMO) that presumed to act as a death panel in regard to my late friend. They acted in a brazen manner, with an attitude that implied: "This is what we are going to do, and there is nothing that you, even as POA, can do about it!" If that doesn't reveal an attitude that there will be no corporate accountability, I don't know what does.

Unfettered capitalism that allows monopolies is not the same as freedom. We need only look at the censorship that corporations imposed in recent years to see the truth of this. Unfettered capitalism may even be a threat to freedom. Any case of power without accountability is a threat to freedom. And at the current time, there seems to be less accountability in corporations than in government.

Rant complete! Now, on to the 2024 eclipse goals and instrumentation!

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Goals of the 2024 Eclipse Expedition:

Of the total solar eclipses I had a shot at seeing, the 8 April 2024 eclipse offered a longer duration of totality than any eclipse since 1991. A longer duration of totality makes it possible to spend more time observing the eclipse, as opposed to only operating equipment.

Also, the early afternoon time of the 2024 eclipse was a better fit to my circadian rhythm (which tended toward late shifts), and it may have a greater impact because it begins in what is normally the brightest part of the day. However, because the 2024 eclipse could potentially be my last, I wanted to accomplish certain things.

Goals of the 2024 eclipse included the following:

  • Allocate at least 50 seconds to observe the solar corona under magnification.
  • Observe and photograph umbra toward the east to NE during first minute of totality.
  • Obtain data for umbra projection altitude experiment, mostly from VR images.
  • Capture 360 degree panoramas at every 4.5 seconds, using Entaniya fisheye lens.
  • Capture 360 degree VR video encompassing totality, plus 2 minites before and 3-4 after.
  • Capture wide angle images of the eclipse over the horizon.
  • Capture wide angle video of the eclipse over the horizon throughout totality.
  • Capture a sequence image showing partial phases every 4 minutes, plus totality.
  • Capture range of solar corona exposures with both film and digital cameras.
  • Image earthshine on the moon during totality.
  • Capture video of solar corona in a range of image scales and exposures.
  • Determine (and image) maximum time before or after totality that lunar outline visible.
  • Measure and record data for light and temperature curves between 1c and 4c.
  • Take enough location video to provide background for an eclipse video.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Eclipse Instrumentation:

Images below include a drawing of the equipment that was envisioned (and completed) for the 8 April 2024 total solar eclipse. Photos (some of which are below; more to be added later) show the actual equipment in its completed state. Completing this setup required a lot of time and effort, not to mention cost and other aspects. Completing it was made a great deal more difficult by the fact that I had to take on being Power of Attorney for an incapacitated elderly friend for three years, starting in late 2020. That literally required almost all of my time and energy for those three years.

Only limited camera and lens testing was needed before the 2024 eclipse. This is because I had performed considerable camera and lens testing before the 2017 solar eclipse. For this reason, this web page does not include a dedicated lens test section. Instead, test results for the few lenses or telescopes that were tested in preparation for the 2024 eclipse have been added to the table of over 30 lenses and telescopes that were tested before the 2017 eclipse. These tests are in Appendix B of my combined 2017 total solar eclipse journal and photo page, at:
http://www.eclipsechaser.com/eclink/image/total17.htm#test

Instrumentation for the 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
Equipment proposed for the Total Solar Eclipse of 8 April, 2024, as envisioned in 2018, 2020, and 2024, and as built in time for the 2024 eclipse. Copyright 2018, 2020, 2023, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.
This is a low resolution 640 pixel wide image. Click HERE for a larger image (1650 x 1200, 632 KB)
After this eclipse setup was envisioned and partially implemented, I was thrust into being Power of Attorney (POA) for an elderly friend and Veteran who had no surviving family after he became incapacitated in late 2020. Even though his documents were in order, one financial institution and a few other businesses refused to honor them, leading to years of imposed vexatious complications in managing his affairs.

This stopped the 2024 eclipse preparations cold in 2020, and adversely impacted my health to an extent that I still had not recovered by the time of the 2024 eclipse. Therefore, I lacked stamina to drive to the eclipse myself, and could only go if I could find a driver for my van, or get a ride with someone who was going to the eclipse in another vehicle. Thus, even by early March of 2024, it was uncertain if I would be able to go to the 2024 total solar eclipse.

However, the eclipse setup shown above was completed and fully tested in time for the 8 April, 2024 eclipse.

Even though there had been no opportunity to resume significant work on the eclipse setup until early February 2024, that was just enough time to complete it, given my limited stamina to work on it or anything else. But the same medical situation that prevented driving to the eclipse also influenced my ability to set up the eclipse instruments based on memory alone. Therefore, I had to make the drawing above to use in assembling the eclipse setup. It shows the tripods and the locations for all cameras, as well as the channels used on the multi channel interval timer I had built in 2017.

In case you missed the last section about why I could not get to the path of totality, here is a brief summary of a few relevant parts of it: In mid March, just as I was working on arranging transportation to the eclipse, and within hours of when I was going to send related emails (that I had been composing off line in text files) my phone AND Internet service, BOTH provided by Frontier Communications, went down for NINE CONSECUTIVE DAYS. This delayed everything. And, as it turned out, I WOULD have certainly had transportation if the Frontier outage had lasted seven days or less instead of nine days. (The driver needed to give his employer that much more notice to get time off work.)

Even though Frontier was made fully aware that I was disabled, and of the urgency of the eclipse situation, and of the necessity of Internet service to communicate with my doctors via their patient portals, Frontier had no sense of urgency about it, even after HOURS of talking with them via an old Trak flip phone. They first provided a false time for when service would be restored. Then, after they missed that date, and after 5 days of outage, they refused to even estimate a time. They apparently have a MONOPOLY on the lines here, and it shows. (Ah, the "pleasures" of monopolies that result from unfettered capitalism... Capitalism and freedom are very different things.) Worse, they claimed they did NOT have the wire cable needed, or equipment to splice a WIRE cable. They said they had to "order" these before service could be restored. Given this, I don't know how they'll cope with widespread outages after a natural disaster.


Photos and Descriptions of the 2024 Eclipse Instrumentation

The 2024 eclipse instrumentation is pictured below. Descriptions of its new features, plus a list of its major and minor assemblies, follow the overview photos below.

Instrumentation for the 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
Cameras and light meters, etc., set up for a practice run, six days before the 8 April, 2024 total solar eclipse.
From left to right, the tripods (which do not count the tripod for the gray telescope on the extreme left) are for:
- Corona Still Image and Ambient Light Measurement Assembly (3 cameras, as shown)
- Wide Angle and VR Imaging and Video Assembly (6 cameras). A condensed eclipse procedure is on the clipboard.
- Custom Multi Camera Controller and Interval Timer (blue box at bottom)
- Sequence Camera (1 camera)
- Corona Video Assembly (6 cameras)
- The large 250 degree Entaniya fisheye lenses at the top are used for the primary 360 degree imaging (instead of the motorized indexing panoramic platform I built in 1991) to eliminate the need to stitch separate images. However, the Corona Still Image tripod on the left has provision to add an elevated support for the panoramic platform.
- The blue 12-channel camera controller and interval timer box at the bottom is detailed in my 2017 eclipse web page.
- There was less space for staging before the 2024 eclipse because I had to store my incapacitated friend's stuff (such as the C8 on the left, which is not part of the eclipse setup) after his condo was sold for him to pay for his 24-hour care.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


New Features of the 2024 Eclipse Instrumentation

The 2024 eclipse instrumentation has several features that were not in my 2017 eclipse setup. Significant differences include:
  • Reliance on more compact custom camera bars and brackets (smaller and lighter)
  • Fully defined system, with little in the way of alternate or optional items.
  • Entaniya 250 degree fisheye lenses, each pointed up, used for primary umbra imaging.
  • Complete elimination of all autofocus lenses (to prevent focus hunting).
  • Fujifilm X cameras (with marked shutter speed dials!) used where manual settings needed.
  • Compact visual telescope has 90 degree diagonal (not 45) for high solar elevation angle.
  • Ad Astra III and TeleVue 60 (with field flattener) telescopes used instead of camera lenses.
  • Run time remaining indicators added to Fornax LighTrack II mounts.
  • Custom compact wedge for tracking mount (smaller, lighter than Gitzo PL5 head)
  • Almost entire system operable from a single seated position (handicapped-accessible!)
  • Tripods are more compact, to fit more conventional size equipment cases.

Assemblies, Tripods, and Corresponding Camera Groups:

The 2024 eclipse instrumentation consists of three major assemblies and a few minor assemblies. Each assembly is on its own tripod.

Major assemblies include:

  • Corona Still Image and Ambient Light Measurement Assembly (3 to 5 cameras):
    • One corona digital camera and one corona film camera, both on Fornax mount.
    • Light meter camera, plus three light meters, clock, and thermometer.
    • Has provision for elevated mounting of motorized indexing panoramic platform.
  • Wide Angle and VR Imaging Assembly (6 cameras):
    • Two 250 degree Entaniya HAL fisheye lenses: One for stills, one for video.
    • Also includes three cameras for 180 degree still images, plus one for video.
  • Corona Video Assembly (6 cameras):
    • Cluster of three long FL video cameras on Fornax LighTrack II mount.
    • Pentax Q with 500mm lens, for equivalent of 3,000mm FL on full frame.
    • Canon SX280, for wider corona video at equivalent of 500mm FL.
    • Ricoh Theta S with wired remote on tall post, for VR still images.
Minor Assemblies Include:
  • Sequence camera on separate tripod (uses its own internal interval timer).
  • Camera controller box in separate tripod, below wide angle assembly.
  • Optional separate tripod with tracker for Pentax Q and 500mm lens.


Wide Angle and VR Imaging and Video Assembly (2024)
© Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles. All Rights Reserved.
Wide Angle and VR Imaging and Video Assembly, 2024 (6 Cameras)

The Wide Angle Imaging and Video Assembly consists of Six cameras. Each camera and lens is briefly described in the caption below. The woman pictured in the background is Willma Alcocer, a former Primary School Director (Principal) at Colegio Buenas Nuevas in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The picture frame was a 1994 gift from (and was made by) Buenas Nuevas primary school staff and students. I met Willma on my 1994 eclipse expedition, but an aspiring (yet failed to this day) politician and his rich cronies interfered with everything on the trip, including the eclipse, imaging southern sky objects, appearing at her school, and time with her. (Details are in my 1994 eclipse journal.) Unfortunately, she passed away on 22 Aug., 2023, only two weeks before she was going to (legally) move to the USA. And the same failed politician allegedly contributed to her death.

Wide Angle and VR Imaging and Video Assembly for 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
- TOP LEFT: Entaniya 3.6mm f/2.8 (250 degree) fisheye lens on Fujifilm X-T20 camera, for still images (one every 4.5 seconds) that cover the entire sky, the full 360 degree horizon, and down to 35 degrees below the horizon.
- TOP CENTER: Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye lens on Panasonic GX7, for video of the eclipse over the horizon. I was going to use an Olympus 8mm f/1.8 fisheye, but its lack of a manual focus switch or ring was a problem at the 2017 eclipse, and there was one occasion where it hunted for focus when the camera was set to manual focus during a practice run in 2024. Not wanting to be bitten twice, I eliminated the Olympus f/1.8 lens from the system.
- TOP RIGHT: Entaniya 3.0mm f/2.8 (250 degree) fisheye lens on Fujifilm X-T20 camera, for 360 degree video.
- BOTTOM LEFT: Samyang 8mm f/2.8 fisheye lens on Fujifilm X-T10, for still images of the eclipse over the horizon. This camera can also be panned toward the left, where I was expecting a good light show from the umbra during the first minute of totality. I had hoped to adapt a 7.5mm MFT lens to the APS format Fuji camera, to get more vertical coverage, but lacked a way to shorten the mount. (Mounts for the 7.5mm and 8mm have the same bolt pattern, but are not the right thickness to interchange directly.) I later found that RAF camera makes an MFT to FX adapter.
- BOTTOM CENTER: Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens on Panasonic GX7, for still photos of eclipse over horizon.
- BOTTOM RIGHT: Samyang 12mm f/2.8 full frame fisheye lens on Nikon N2020 camera, for still images on film of the eclipse over the horizon.
- BACKGROUND, lower right: 28mm manual focus lens and solar filter on Fujifilm X-E1, for an eclipse sequence. After this picture was taken, I decided to swap the Fuji X-E1 and the chrome Funi X-T10 at bottom left. This made it possible to use the built-in interval timer of the X-T10 (which the X-E1 lacks) for the entire sequence.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Front View of Wide Angle/VR Assembly, also Showing some other Cameras/Instruments.
The pictured 8mm f/1.8 Olympus fisheye lens (top center) was still part of the system when this photo was taken.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Glass that Means Business: Two Entaniya 250 Degree HAL Fisheye Lenses.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Corona Still Image and Ambient Light Measurement Assembly (2024)
© Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles. All Rights Reserved.
Corona Still Image and Ambient Light Measurement Assembly (3 to 5 Cameras)

The Corona still image and ambient light measurement assembly conists of a telescope and digital camera to image both partial phases of the eclipse, plus prominences and the solar corona during totality; a telescope and film camera for photographing the corona, a small visual telescope, and a digital camera with a fisheye lens to capture video of an array of instruments that include three light meters (each set to a different light intensity range), a thermometer, and a clock - plus imaging the sun in the upper right corner of the background. The assembly also has provision to add an elevated support for the motorized indexing panoramic platform that I built in 1991 and used at all observed total solar eclipses since then.

Corona Still Image & Ambient Light Measurement Assembly, 2024 (Side View)
- LEFT: Array of light meters, plus a thermometer and a clock, to measure the ambient light intensity and temperature. The array includes two Sekonic meters (each set to a different range) and a Gossen Luna-Pro set to its low range. All meters are set to read incident light, as opposed to reflected. The Gossen meter is only used because it was used for measurements at all total solar eclipses I had observed since 1991.
UPPER CENTER: Olympus E-P3 camera with Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens, to capture 1080p video of the meter array, with the sun in the right background.
- NEXT TO LEFT: The small rectangular white object is an illuminator to illuminate the scales on the light meters during totality. The white incident light measurement domes on the meters are tipped away from the illuminator just enough to keep its light from biasing the readings.
- CENTER: Custom compact wedge that I designed and built for the Fornax tracking mount. The wedge also accommodates other mounts, including the Takahashi Teegul, the AstroTrac TT320x, and a variety of others.
- RIGHT: Cluster of telescopes and cameras on a Fornax LighTrack II tracking mount:
- Foreground: Ad Astra III telescope (78mm aperture, f/9.75) and Nikon N2020 film camera.
- Middle: Small telescope I made from a 300mm f/6.3 Rokinon lens. With the shown 18mm eyepiece, it provides a magnification of about 17x. The tiny 24.5mm diagonal is part of a compact afocal assembly I made in the 1980's that converted one side of my binoculars into a 40x telescope. (The other side of the binoculars was the finder scope!)
- Near Background: Televue 60 ED (60mm f/6) refractor telescope with Starizona EVO-FF field flattener and Fujifilm X-T10 digital camera. The 16MP X-T10 is used because it has fewer color artifacts around highlights than newer Fujifilm cameras that have more pixels. (Camera tests are in Appendix B of my 2017 total solar eclipse web page.)
- OTHER: The two dark post holders toward the lower left accept an elevated support for the motorized indexing panoramic platform I designed and built in 1991, and have used at total solar eclipses since then.
Copyright 2017 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Corona Still Image & Ambient Light Measurement Assembly, 2024 (Operator View)
- This view better shows the light meter array (top) and the camera that images it (right). Telescopes in the foregroud all have solar filters attached. From left to right, the telescopes and associated cameras are once again:
- Ad Astra III telescope with Nikon N2020 camera.
- Compact telescope I made from a Nikon mount Rokinon 300mm f/6.3 mirror lens.
- TeleVue 60 ED telescope with Starizona EVO-FF field flattener and Fujifilm X-T10 camera.
Copyright 2017 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



Corona Video Assembly (2024)
© Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles. All Rights Reserved.
Corona Video Assembly (6 Cameras)

The Corona Video Assembly captures video of the solar corona and other features at a variety of image scales. The widest is the full frame equivalent of 500mm (and can be zoomed to a wider angle) and the narrowest field is the full frame equivalent of 3,000mm. The sequence camera in the upper left background is not part of this assembly. The metal post on the extreme right is part of a 28 inch tall elevated mount for a Ricoh Theta S VR camera.

Corona Video Assembly for 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (Operator-side View)
LEFT: Tamron 500mm f/8 mirror lens on Panasonic GX7 camera (1,250mm full-frame equivalent focal length).
NEXT TO LEFT: Panasonic HDC-SD1 Camcorder with Nikon 3x ED Converter on front (700mm equivalent).
CENTER (in photo): Nikon 300mm f/4 ED Nikkor lens on Olympus E-P3 camera (750mm equivalent F.L).
RIGHT: Nikon 500mm Reflex Nikkor-C lens on Pentax Q camera (3,000mm full-frame equivalent F.L!)
NOT VISIBLE: Canon SX280 (behind cameras), and Ricoh Theta S VR camera (on top of post at extreme right). Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Corona Video Assembly for 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (Front View)
Since this is a front view, the apparent camera order is reversed:
TOP LEFT: Nikon 300mm f/4 ED Nikkor lens on Olympus E-P3 camera.
TOP CENTER: Panasonic HDC-SD1 Camcorder with Nikon 3x ED Converter on front.
TOP RIGHT: Tamron 500mm f/8 mirror lens on Panasonic GX7 camera.
BOTTOM LEFT: Nikon 500mm f/8 Reflex Nikkor-C mirror lens on Pentax Q camera.
BOTTOM RIGHT: Canon SX280 camera (zooms to 500mm full-frame equivalent focal length).
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


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Cameras and Meters, etc., for 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
© Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles. All Rights Reserved.
Cameras and Meters, etc., for the 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.

Equipment for the 8 April 2024 total solar eclipse includes two telescopes (a vintage Ad Astra III Mak-Cass, and a TeleVue 60 refractor) for acquiring still images of the partial phases (and corona if I had been in the path of totality). The setup originally envisioned for 2024 used camera lenses instead of the small telescopes.

Cameras, Camera Controller, Meters., etc., for the 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
Even though this is considerably less equipment than what was used for the 2017 total solar eclipse, it required about the same amount of cases and volume as the 2017 setup. This is because many of the subassemblies (such as the array of light meters, and the wide angle camera bars with their ball heads) were left assembled for transport. This reduced the total time neede to unpack and set up to about an hour. This was done partly because weather prospects for the 2024 path of totality in the USA were not very good, and I wanted to be able to change sites (if necessary) as late as eclipse day.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Custom Camera, etc., Brackets for the 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
Custom Camera, etc., Brackets for 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
Most of the brackets toward the front of either side were made before the 2017 total solar eclipse. Most of the rest were made for the 2024 eclipse, being made in either late 2017, or in 2018, or 2024. The small 20mm LeapLumin ball heads (less than $20 each on Amazon, and shown on the central dual wide angle bracket) were more stable than some 25mm to 29mm ball heads I had previously tried, and there is no need for an Arca plate. For one of the tripods, the small custom wedge at lower left is used instead of a large Gitzo PL5 head, such as the one shown at lower right.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Equipment Packed and Ready for the 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
I also had hotel and site reservations. All that was missing was a ride to the path of totality!
Left: Equipment Packed and Ready for 8 April 2024 Total Eclipse. Right: Same, for 2017.
LEFT: Equipment for 2024 total solar eclipse. The 2024 eclipse equipment would fit in less space if each assembly was separated into its separate components. But it was packed as shown because this allowed several assemblies to be kept intact for the trip. This reduced set up time from several hours to less than one hour. The tripods all fit the black case toward the rear. (Tripods in the background are not part of the setup.) Most equipment was unpacked on the night of 7 April, in order to use some if it to image the partial solar eclipse, which is all I was going to see from Los Angeles.
RIGHT: Equipment packed for the 2017 total solar eclipse, for comparison. Most of the tripods used in 2017 were not short enough to fit in cases.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



Specific Minor Assemblies or Components:

Pairing TeleVue 60 Telescope with Starizona EVO-FF V2 Field Flattener

The TeleVue 60 telescope produces excellent central images, but it has a lot of field curvature. Fortunately, the TV60 telescope can provide a reasonably flat field when used with the Starizona EVO-FF V2 field flattener. When the field flattener is used, the size of the Airy disk is only enlarged about 1.5 times, which is a negligible amount for wide field observing or imaging at f/6.

TeleVue 60 Telescope, with Accessories Including a Starizona EVO-FF V2 Field Flattener.
The 360mm focal length of the Televue 60 (60mm f/6) telescope is longer than the 250mm focal length for which the EVO-FF V2 field flattener was designed. However, the field flattener works reasonably well with the TV60 if the distance between its lenses and the focal plane is modified a little by using a short mirrorless camera T-ring with appropriate extension tubes. The accessories here facilitate using the flattener both visually and for photography.
- Just left of center (in the top row of accessories) is an assembly that includes a 1.25 inch T-adapter, a 28mm T2 (T-thread) extension tube, and the Starizona EVO-FF V2 field flattener.
- Immediately to the right is a T2 extension tube (having a 1.25 inch inside diameter with compression ring) and a short T-ring for Fuji X. This combination provides the right back focus distance for photography with the field flattener.
- To use the EVO-FF visually, the 28mm T2 extension tube is removed from the left assembly and screwed into the front of the right assembly. Then the EVO-FF is screwed directly into the front of the resulting stack of two T2 rings.
- The front of the EVO-FF is then inserted into a 1.25 inch eyepiece holder, and an eyepiece is used in the rear T2 ring. This only works for straight through imaging with the TeleVue 60, because the diagonal requires too much back focus to work with the field flattener (with its own required back focus) in its eyepiece holder.
- The shown eyepieces are a 7mm Type 1 Nagler (left) and a 4mm Plossl (right). In the center is a custom 1.8mm (equivalent) eyepiece I made decades ago, using a negative 9mm achromatic lens and a 9.7mm Plossl eyepiece.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


TeleVue 60 Telescope, in its case with all of the accessories pictured in the picture above.
Foam in the case was obviously modified from the factory configuration to accommodate the extra accessories. Most items are kept in plastic bags within the case for a little extra protection. The field flattener assembly is shown attached to the telescope in the "Last Minute Instrumentation Changes..." section below.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Moon at EDGE of APS frame, with TeleVue 60 Telescope and EVO-FF V2 Field Flattener.
Focus was set when the moon was in the center of the frame, then its image was moved off-axis for this heavily cropped photo. The optimum back focus distance with the TV60 differs slightly from the 55mm design back focus of the flattener. I have not yet star tested the combination. Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Custom Compact Wedge for Telescope Mounts and Star Trackers:

The custom compact wedge I designed made a significant difference in the weight of the system, and reduced setup time. Its envelope is not much larger than a 3 inch cube. A drawing of it, showing positions of the wedge plate for a range of different latitudes, is shown below. There was only time to build one wedge before the eclipse, while two would have been preferred.

Custom Compact Wedge for Takahashi Teegul, Fornax LighTrack II, and other mounts.
The prototype wedge was designed to screw directly onto the 3/8-16 threaded stud of a tripod.
- However, it was found to be more versatile if a 3/8-16 knurled head screw could be used to attach the wedge to a threaded plate in the eclipse assembly.
- For this reason (to prevent mechanical interference between the attachment screw and the screw that attaches a mount to the wedge plate) the shown design is about 1/8 inch taller than the original. This may be increased up to another 1/4 inch, to allow for larger knurled heads on either or both of the 3/8-16 screws.
- The wedge also accepts mounts with 1/4-20 threaded holes, and it has a built-in level attached to its base plate.
- The wedge design uses pairs of holes to accommodate different latitudes (as opposed to an adjustable tilting wedge plate) because the hole pairs are more stable and foolproof.
-- The angle settings are not exact when using hole pairs, but the tilt of the level can be adjusted to show level at exact latitudes that may differ from the wedge plate angle by up to 2 degrees.
- A spacer plate is used with the AstroTrac TT320x, to keep the wedge side plates from interfering with its polar alignment scope arm.
-- The final wedge plate will have an inverted U shape (as seen from its ends) to eliminate the need for a spacer plate.
- To save time, the wedge was just sketched to scale in PowerPoint, rather than making a normal dimension drawing.
Copyright 2023, 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



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Last Minute Instrumentation Changes to Accommodate Only a Partial Solar Eclipse

Late at night on Friday, 5 April, 2024, it became apparent that all options to get to the path of totality had either failed to materialize or had fallen through. This meant that a partial solar eclipse was all that I would be able to see, even though the path of totality was tantalizingly close, especially for a person who used to travel across the world to see a total solar eclipse.

Those of us who have witnessed a total solar eclipse tend to adopt a saying that: "If you've seen one partial [eclipse], you've seen them all.". That pretty much summed up my own attitude about partial solar eclipses, with the exception of that I wanted to see an annular eclipse.

I was unable to go to the annular eclipse in 2023 because of POA responsibilities for my (now late) friend, the fact that October was a critical time for him, and the fact that I had no energy for a trip at that time. The latter was partly because the responsibility used all of my reserves, and bereavement over the passing of Willma Alcocer in Bolivia took the rest of the wind out of me for months. My 3 Nov, 1994 total solar eclipse journal (also at this web site) describes who Willma Alcocer was.

After it became apparent that it would not be possible to go to the path of totality in April 2024, I decided to image the partial eclipse anyway, even though doing so would be very anticlimactic.

To add a little spice to the partial eclipse, I decided to use a Coronado PST to observe and image it in Hydrogen Alpha light that would reveal the same prominences that would have been visible during totality.

For those unfamiliar with a Coronado (now acquired by Meade) PST: The PST is a 40mm aperture, f/10 refractor telescope having a built-in narrow band Hydrogen Alpha filter with a center wavelength of about 656.28 nm. The front element of the PST has a coating that rejects a broad range of wavelengths that are well outside of the H-Alpha band, to reduce heating of other components inside the telescope. Well behind the objective lens (more than half way to the focal surface) is an etalon filter that can be tilted, for fine tuning the wavelength that is admitted. Behind that is a blocking filter that removes additional wavelengths, including harmonic bands passed by the etalon. The bandwidth (FWHM or greater extinction) of my PST is about 0.8 Angstroms.

In addition, I planned to take video in H-Alpha, to see if the moon would cover prominences before reaching the solar photosphere, or uncover prominences after uncovering the photosphere. It turned out that the moon did gradually cover a large triangular prominence before the partial phase of the eclipse, and then it uncovered two more prominences after the partial phase was over!

Since I was fairly tired and deflated from everything falling through, it took longer than usual to UNPACK the setup and then reconfigure it for a partial eclipse, while adding the Coronado PST to the mix. The final setup for the partial eclipse is pictured below, as set up outdoors for (what was for me) the 8 April 2024 partial solar eclipse.

While a very minor experiment, I also recreated circumstances under which the chrome corner of one of my rigid camera cases had reflected/formed a relatively large image of the partial phase of the 2017 solar eclipse on the ground shortly before totality. This was successful, except that the chrome parts of the case actually produced three small images of the sun, plus the one larger image. The nature of vegetation on the ground in Idaho may have accounted for why I only saw one of these solar images in 2017.

Equipment Set Up for the Total Partial Solar Eclipse in Texas Los Angeles, CA.
LEFT: Since I was stuck with having to see only a partial solar eclipse (mainly because a long outage of Frontier Internet AND Phone service prevented arranging transportation to the path of totality in time), some of the equipment is different than what would have been used in Texas.
For example, there is no need for wide angle imaging to capture the umbra during a partial solar eclipse, but a Hydrogen-Alpha filter is useful. Also, when a partial eclipse is all that is being imaged, longer focal lengths can be used. From left to right, the equipment used here for the partial solar eclipse includes:
On the foreground tripod:
- Custom compact telescope I made from a 300mm f/6.3 mirror lens, with a 58mm solar filter on the front.
- TeleVue 60 telescope with solar filter and Starizona EVO-FF field flattener on a Fujifilm X-T20 camera.
- Borg 76 ED telescope with 77mm solar filter, Borg 1.08x field flattener, and Nikon 1.4x tele-converter (for a 756mm focal length), on a Fujifilm X-T20 camera.
- All three of these telescopes are on a small Takahashi Teegul equatorial mount, which is in turn mounted on the compact wedge I designed. (Wedge is shown in the previous custom bracket photo.)
- The Takahashi mount and Borg telescope were not going to be used for the total eclipse, because there had not been time to test the mount when this heavily loaded. However, it performed adequately during the partial eclipse. The mount can handle more weight than a standard one (without developing wobble like a standard one) because I added tapped holes that facilitate bolting the declination casting assembly directly to the other mount components.
On the Closest Tripod on the Right:
- Ad Astra III telescope and solar filter, configured for visual use.
- Coronado PST Hydrogen-Alpha telescope with 12mm eyepiece. The Fuji X-T10 camera used to take this picture can be interchanged with the eyepiece. I use a Barlow lens with the camera adapter to get more back focus.
- Both of these telescopes are mounted on a Fornax LighTrack II mount. As the run time indicator I added to to the Fornax mount shows, the mount is very close to the end of its tracking time.
On the Right Background Tripod:
Fujifilm X-T10 with 28mm manual focus lens and solar filter, for sequence imaging via its internal interval timer.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


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2024 Total Partial Solar Eclipse Images: Partial Phases, H-Alpha, etc.:

Images of 8 April, 2024 Total Partial Solar Eclipse.
© Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles. All Rights Reserved.
3D Stereo Image of Maximum Eclipse during the 2024 partial solar eclipse in L.A.
The 3D stereo effect is caused by the moon moving toward one side (relative to the sun) between the time each picture was taken. The pictures were taken two minutes apart. Both images were taken with a Borg 76ED telescope with a Borg 1.08x field flattener and Nikon 1.4x tele-converter (for a 756mm focal length), on a Fujifilm X-T20 camera. Exposure is 1/500 sec. at f/10, ISO 800.
- To see the images in 3D, cross your eyes until the solar images merge, while trying to keep them in focus. (Counting what is in peripheral vision, when the photos are properly merged, there may appear to be three images, with the center one having the apparent 3D effect.) Not everyone is able to see the 3D effect, but it is usually easiest when the photos are viewed from a distance of more than four times the displayed width of the image pair. To reduce risk of eye strain (and headache), it is best to only attempt to see the images in 3D for up to 30 seconds per day during the first few days, then for up to a minute on later days. Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Close-Up Stereo Image of Maximum Eclipse during the 2024 partial solar eclipse in L.A.
Here, the moon moved relative to the pictured sunspot group. These images are cropped from the above wider field photos. Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

Hydrogen-Alpha Images of Moon Covering and Uncovering Prominences:
The moon covers a prominence immediately before the 2024 partial solar eclipse in L.A.
TOP: This prominent (pun intended) triangular prominence was obvious to those in the path of totality. The prominence looks bright because it was near the sweet spot in the Coronado PST Hydrogen-Alpha telescope used to take this photo. Unfortunately, I centered the sun during the sequence that follows, and that made the prominences look dimmer.
SECOND: The outer part of the triangular prominence is just beginning to be covered by the moon.
THIRD: The moon covers more of the prominence before it begins to eclipse the solar photosphere.
LAST: The moon begins to eclipse the solar photosphere after it has fully covered the large triangular prominence.
Images were taken with a Coronado PST Hydrogen-Alpha telescope, a Barlow lens, and a Fuji X-T10 camera. The top image is cropped from a still image. The next three images are cropped screen shots from my video. The video shows (dimly imaged) prominences being covered in real time. Prominences in this series were not in the "sweet spot" of my PST (this is particularly true for the third image), so they look fairly dim in these photos. The prominences and solar limb are in the sweet spot for the next set of images, below. Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


The moon uncovers prominences immediately after the end of the 2024 partial solar eclipse.
LEFT: The moon begins to uncover a prominence just above the center of the image.
CENTER: The moon uncovers more of the central prominence, and begins to uncover a second prominence above it.
RIGHT: As the moon continued to move toward the left, both prominences became completely uncovered.
Images were taken with a Coronado PST H-Alpha telescope, a Barlow lens, and a Fuji X-T10 camera. The original is a video, so it shows prominences being uncovered in real time. Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



2024 Total Partial Solar Eclipse Images: Partial Phases, H-Alpha, etc. (Sequence)

Place Holder for 2024 (Partial) Solar Eclipse Sequence Photo.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



Solar Eclipse Images Formed by Chrome Corner of Accessory Case.

Solar Eclipse Images Formed by Chrome Corner of Accessory Case in 2017 and 2024.
LEFT: When the sun was close to 85 percent eclipsed at the 2017 total solar eclipse (about 16 minutes before totality), a relatively large image of the crescent sun appeared on the ground. It was three or four times larger than an image that would result from pinhole projection from the most distant part of my equipment. There was also a bright spot at the location that would correspond to the center of the sun if it had not been eclipsed. Some time after the 2017 eclipse, I determined that it must have formed by the chrome corner on the black accessory case on the table to the upper left. Later tests showed that it appeared to form a similarly sized image of the un-eclipsed sun under similar conditions. However, the formation of a crescent image could not really be verified in the absence of another solar eclipse.
RIGHT: During the 8 April, 2024 solar eclipse, I replicated circumstances from 2017, to the extent possible with the higher 2024 solar elevation angle. Results from the 2024 eclipse (as seen from L.A.) near maximum eclipse, are in the right image. The background image shows the case on the right and the projection surface on the left. The center inset image is a larger photo of the projection surface. The case actually forms three small solar images and one large one. The lower two of the smaller images would not have been seen in 2017, because the table masked the lower fittings on the case. Toward the top of the 2024 projection surface, the case projected the eclipse as two small images, with a larger image surrounding the upper of these. However, in the large image, the center of the wide crescent is projected more dimly than its cusps. This dimmer area would not have influenced the 2017 image, because the 2017 crescent would have been oriented almost 180 degrees from this one, after accounting for the solar position angles that were eclipsed.
Copyright 2017, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


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Appendix E: 2024 Total Eclipse Image, Video, Data Acquisition Procedure (Timeline):

As for previous total solar eclipses, it was useful to develop a procedure that can be rehearsed before the eclipse, then used at the eclipse. This increases the number of cameras and instruments that it is practical to use. A draft outline of the part of my 2024 eclipse procedure that is for use at the total solar eclipse site on eclipse day is shown below. To save time when making camera settings, digital cameras that lack dedicated shutter speed and aperture dials are set to 1 EV steps, where possible.

The procedure below is unique to equipment I use, but it illustrates the details that must be considered when preparing for a short duration event that does not offer a second chance to get things right. If a camera or instrument fails during the eclipse, it is dropped from the procedure. There is no time to fix gadgets at a total solar eclipse! Shown times are for a notional site near the McLane Stadium parking lot in Waco, TX.

On 4 April, the observing site was changed to a grassy area east of the motel (after permission was granted to use it), but the times were not edited because contact time difference between there and the stadium were minimal.


Jeffrey R. Charles - 2024 Eclipse Image/Data Acquisition Procedure (Timeline) v240313, r0403
(Indentation has general first, then indentation increases with focal length.)  PAGE 1 of 2.

MDT	Event 
Time:	Based Time:	Process or Event:

00:00	2c -1 Day	Verify cam. menu settings (PwrM 5+m), cam. clocks, atomic clock, WWV.
			Verify all batteries charged/installed; film loaded in cameras, etc.
			Verify cameras write to cards. Use new mem. if nec. Take test photos.

00:00	2c -2:28:00 G: Arrive On Site (LATEST advised time unless pre-assembled)(1c-1h 20m)
00:00	2c -1:38:00 G: OPTIONAL Video/narration of setup when adeq. assemb.	(1c-20m)
00:00	2c -1:33:00  M: Take/video first light meter readings (both meter types) (1c-15m)
00:00	2c- 1:28:00      C: OPTIONAL: START H-Alpha video (1c- 8m, if use EP3) (1c-11m)

00:00	2c -1:30:00     S: START internal sequence timer (1/2m >6m bef. 1st contact) (1c-9m)
00:00	2c -1:30:00     S: Verify sequence pix captured (internal timer) (view in cam)(1c-8m)
00:00	2c -1:25:00      C: START Fornax video/still camera trackers, verify tracking (1c-6m)
00:00	2c -1:22:00      C: Still photo of full sun (over 3 m before 1st contact) (1c-4m)
00:00	2c -1:20:00      C: Start long focal length VIDEO cameras (1 m bef. 1c) (1c-2m)

00:00	2c -1:18:00 FIRST CONTACT! 00:00:00				(1c)
00:00	2c -1:18:00      C: Observe early part of ingress.	* (TAPE focus rings)
00:00	2c -1:18:00      C: Take a few ingress photos in first 1-2 minutes
00:00	2c -1:16:00      C: OPTIONAL: Stop H-Alpha video (1-2 min. after 1c)
00:00	2c -1:14:00      C: STOP long focal length video cameras (2-4 min. after 1c)

00:00  2c -1:12:00  M: Take short video 2nd light meter readings (both meter types) (1c+6m)
00:00  2c -1:10:00    W: Take first wide angle photos (light curve backup); Turn OFF WA cams.
00:00  2c -1:05:00 G: Take more (or START) narrated video of setup.
00:00  2c -0:55:00 G: TEST INTERVAL TIMER for 1 MIN, verify multiple photos captured.
00:00  2c -0:43:00      C: RESET Fornax Trackers and re-center sun in cameras.	(1c+35m)
00:00  2c -0:35:00  M: Take 3rd still/video of light meter rdgs (both meter types), narrate.

00:00  2c -0:30:00     S: REPLACE battery in camera(s) used for sequence.
00:00  2c -0:25:00   V: Take 1st 250 deg. photos (AUTO Exp, -1 Exp. Cmp) + short 250 d. vid.
00:00  2c -0:20:00 G: Check status of all cameras, incl. internal sequence interval timer.
00:00  2c -0:15:00  M: TURN ON all METERS, START Light Meter VIDEO (tmout 3c +10:30)
00:00  2c -0:12:00      C: Check sun centering in cameras, re-point as needed; acct f/drift.
00:00  2c -0:08:00 G: TURN ON ALL cameras that are not already on (requires 55 seconds)

00:00  2c -0:07:00   V: Second 250 deg. photo.  * 2c -0:06:30 Set Nik. N2020/12mm ISO to 250.
00:00  2c -0:05:30   V: Third 250 deg. photo, START 360 (250 fisheye) video.
00:00  2c -0:05:00    W: START & VERIFY ALL wide angle VIDEO cameras (timeout 3c+5.5)
00:00  2c -0:04:30   V: Fifth 250 deg. (F/2.8, ISO 200) photo (shutter speed: 1/125)
00:00  2c -0:04:00    W: START 180/250 deg. fisheye INTERVAL TIMER box (4.5 sec/photo)
00:00  2c -0:03:30      C: Briefly remove 250/300mm video / TV60 solar filters (corona check)
			Turn Page (Next step is Start 250 deg. Video at 2C -0:03:00)

Jeffrey R. Charles - 2024 Eclipse Image/Data Acquisition Procedure (Timeline) v240313, r0403
(Indentation has general first, then indentation increases with focal length.)  PAGE 2 of 2.

MDT	Event 
Time:	Based Time:	Process or Event:

00:00  2c -0:03:00   V: START 250 deg. VIDEO (IF 1080p; do at -2:30 if 4k) (timeout 3c+7.5)
00:00  2c -0:02:30   V: SET 250 deg. STILL shutter speed to 1/60. (IF NOT on AUTO)
00:00  2c -0:02:15      C: START and VERIFY all CORONA VIDEO.
00:00  2c -0:01:30   V: SET 250 deg. still shutter speed to 1/30 (or leave on AUTO if zoned)
00:00  2c -0:01:00   V: SET 250 deg. still shutter speed to 1/15 (or leave on AUTO)

00:00  2c -0:00:45      C: REMOVE first SOLAR FILTER (Ord: Seq. N2020, EP3, Camc, T500, rem)
00:00  2c -0:00:20      C: REMOVE last solar filter
00:00  2c -0:00:15      C: Set TeleVue 60 camera (Fuji X-T10a) shutter to 1/2000.
00:00  2c -0:00:10   V: SET 250 deg. still shutter speed to 1/2 or 1/4 (leave AUTO if zoned)

00:00  2c  2C      SECOND CONTACT! - TOTALITY (13:38:01, Waco)  LOOK at it!
00:00  2c +0:00:05   V: SET 250 deg. still shutter speed to 1 sec.
00:00  2c +0:00:10      C: Set TeleVue 60 camera (f/6) Fuji shutter to 1/2000, then 2~4 sec.
00:00  2c +0:00:45      C: Set Ad-Astra (f/10) Nikon shutter to 1/125, then 1~2 s.
00:00  2c +0:01:25   V: Various stuff (Ricoh Theta S pix, if not auto, etc.
00:00  2c +0:02:00      C: Corona Series, up to 4 sec. w/TV60, 1x EIGHT SEC. w/AdAstra
00:00  2c +0:03:30    V: Look for UMBRA boundary in all directions, image w/east 180 fisheye.
00:00  2c +0:04:00      C: Set TeleVue 60 shutter to 1/30 or 1/60 (for diamond ring).
00:00  2c +0:00:00 G: LOOK at CORONA in scope and/or binoculars to 11:32:14 (3c-15s)
00:00  2c +0:00:00 (3c -00:15) [Set long FL corona cam shutter speed to 1/250?]
00:00  2c +0:00:00 (3c -00:11) Set pano/all sky shutters to 1/2 sec. (Optional)
00:00  2c +0:00:00 (3c -00:05) LOOK at eclipse for third contact.

00:00  3c  3C      THIRD CONTACT! 00:00:00  LOOK! (13:42:12, Waco)
00:00  3c +0:00:00 Set pano/all sky shutters to 1/4 (or 1/8)(if not prev.)(or put on AUTO).
00:00  3c +0:00:00 REPLACE solar filters on video cameras, then still cameras.
00:00  3c +0:00:00 Set pano/all sky shutters to 1/8 sec. (or use AUTO if not set already).
00:00  3c +0:00:40   V: Look for UMBRA boundary in all directions, image w/east 180 fisheye.
00:00  3c +0:01:15      C: OPT: Briefly rem. 250/300mm / TV 60 solar filters, corona check)
00:00  2c +0:02:00      C: Briefly rem. 250/300mm / TV 60 solar filt, 1/1000 corona check)
00:00  3c +0:02:30      C: Briefly rem. TeleVue 60 / Ad Astra solar filt, 1/2000 corona ck)
00:00  2c +0:03:00      C: Briefly rem. 250/300mm solar filter, corona check)
00:00  3c +0:03:30      C: Briefly rem. TeleVue 60 / Ad Astra solar filt, 1/4000 corona ck)
00:00  3c +0:04:30 G: STOP all video cameras.
00:00  2c +0:06:00  M: Photo/video of light meter readings (both types) * & at +10, 20m.

15:00:43   4C	   FOURTH CONTACT! (3C+1:18:00) 15:00:43 (Waco) Observe and time it!
15:00:52 4c+0:00:09     C: View sun in H-Alpha, image if moon vis. against prominence.
15:06:00 4c +0:05:17  M: Take final meter pix. 
15:08:00 4c +0:07:17 Take any missed setup pix/video, dismantle, pack, leave site.
15:15:43	      G: END Procedure (sans re-pack, copy photos from mem. cards, etc.)

Stats / Times of 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse, by (Texas) City or Area:
City:	 Lat.   Long. T Az. TElev  Width   1 Con.    2 Con.    T Dur. 3 Con.	4 Con.
Leakey	
Uvald.	29.21  98.79  174.0  68.0  120 mi  12:12:12  13:29:40  4:16   13:33:56	14:53:20
Comf.	29.97  98.91  178.0  68.0  120 mi	     13:28:07  4:14 ? 13:
Kerv.					   12:14:40  13:32:04  4:24   13:36.28	14:55:30
Waco	31.55  97.15  186.0  66.0	   12:20:30  13:38:01  4:11   13:42:12	15:00:43
S.Dal.	32.78	      188.0		   12:23:18  13:40:43  3:52   13:34:35	15:02:42
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Appendix F: Comparisons of My Eclipse Instrumentation and Results (1979 to 2024):

Background:

Between the time of my first total solar eclipse in 1979 and the present time, there have been limitations on the scope and type of equipment I could use at a total solar eclipse. At first, and then again in the late 1990's, the main limitation was financial. In the mid 1990's, the main limitation was that work obligations limited how much time was available to prepare. In later years, health became the main limitation.

As more total solar eclipses were observed over time, the aspects of each eclipse I wanted to emphasize began to take shape. As the emphasis of what I wanted to accomplish changed, and as the amount of time and funds that could be budgeted for eclipse instruments varied, there were of course corresponding changes in the instrumentation that was actually used.

1979:

For my first total solar eclipse in 1979, I did not know what to expect. The emphasis of all material I could find was on observing and imaging the corona, but my own thoughts were that it should be possible to see the boundary moon's shadow (or umbra) at certain times near or during a totality, though I had no idea what this would look like. I decided to use the 16mm Minolta Rollor-X fisheye lens that I already had to image what could be seen of the lunar umbra.

Because I was not very well off financially in 1979, the equipment used for the 1979 total solar eclipse had to be more or less limited to what I already had. The sole exception was that I rented a 300mm f/4.5 pre-set lens from a pawn shop to use at the 1979 eclipse.

At the 1979 eclipse, the light show put on by the leading edge of the umbra was a sight to behold, and I have never seen anything else like it to this day. Less than a minute into totality, it was possible to see the leading edge of the umbra move away toward the east and northeast in real time, with yellow, orange, and red color appearing low in the sky ahead of it. At one point, I could even see distant high clouds that were still in sunlight - through the umbra, at an elevation angle well above the local projection of the umbra boundary onto cirrus clouds.

From then on, I decided to take wide angle photos at any total solar eclipse I could get to, with the goal of taking multiple 360 degree panoramas before, during, and after totality. One goal of taking such panoramas was to use in developing a way to forecast (and even simulate or reproduce) where the boundary of the umbra appears most impressive, or where the strongest color outside of the umbra boundary will be located.

Moderately high thin clouds were present during the 1979 eclipse, but a little less than a solar radius of corona was visible through them. The local clouds provided a good "projection screen" for the edge of the lunar umbra, and for the first minute after second contact, motion of the leading edge of the umbra could be observed in real time.

It was not possible to go to another total solar eclipse until 1991, mainly because finances did not permit it. And inability to get health insurance while self employed (due to "preexisting conditions") was the main reason that finances were scarce.

1991:

In 1991, finances prevented purchasing equipment for the eclipse, but I was able to make and modify things in my machine shop at relatively low cost.

One of the things I modified made was the tube of my 94mm f/7 refractor telescope. The tube, front cell, dewcap, and focuser were all modified to implement a retractable dewcap and reduce the tube length by about 4 cm. This made it short enough to transport in even relatively conservative 20 inch long carry on luggage. It also made the telescope more versatile, since it provided more back focus distance behind the telescoping focuser drawtube.

The most important thing I built was a one-of-a-kind motorized indexing panoramic platform that facilitated taking 360 degree panoramas simply by alternately pushing two buttons. It could capture 360 degree panoramas in 2, 3, 4, or even 6 or more shots, depending on the lens used.

The 1991 eclipse was the only total eclipse at which I was clouded out. However, if annular eclipses are counted, I was also clouded out at the 4 January 1992 annular eclipse. At both eclipses, the view of the sun was good until less than half an hour before maximum eclipse.

1994:

For the 3 Nov. 1994 total solar eclipse, finances were less of a problem, but time to work on eclipse instruments was scarce, so existing equipment had to be used again. This increased the amount of luggage that had to be transported.

However, it was possible to design and build a pulsed stepping motor clock drive for my Aus-Jena German equatorial mount (GEM) that ran on a 9-volt battery, and this reduced the weight of what had to be transported by about 7 pounds (a little over 3 kg).

In addition, commutators were added to the panoramic camera platform, so the camera could be fired without having to configure a coiled wire before each roll of film.

The 1994 trip was the most traumatic eclipse expedition I ever experienced, if not the most traumatic trip of any kind that I ever experienced. Possibly for that reason, it was the last SOLO expedition I ever attempted. My health was impacted to such an extent that surgery was required to correct it. An aspiring yet failed far-right Bolivian politician and his rich buddies were the source of the problem. They lived down to every stereotype about South American politics.

I also encountered one of the most extraordinary (in a good way) people I ever met on the same trip. She was the director (principal) at a school attended mostly my poor students. And of course the failed politcian and rich men were opposed to her and her work. It was a trip of contrasts.

1995:

In 1995, the prospect of finances being an issue was once again on the horizon, but it was still possible to reduce the volume and weight of the equipment to an extent that it would fit into two carry on bags. Being able to modify existing parts, or machine custom parts, helped make the system smaller.

Also, I added a variable timing circuit and relays to the panoramic platform control box to automate most aspects of its operation. The circuit also had an auxiliary output that was used to fire the corona camera at a time when the panoramic camera platform was not rotating (and thus vibrating the tripod). This equipment was used at the 24 Oct. 1995 total solar eclipse in Thailand.

The 1995 trip was the most trouble free and successful eclipse expedition I ever experienced. It was the same for the late Pierre-y Schwaar, who had accompanied me to the 1995 eclipse.

After 1995, it was not possible to see another eclipse until 2017. This is mainly because finances prevented international travel between 1995 and about 2003, and a combination of health and work obligations prevented long distance travel after that.

2017:

It was possible to go to the 21 Aug. 2017 total solar eclipse only because the path of totality was in my home country. For the 2017 eclipse, it appeared that there would be both time and finances to work on a good set of eclipse instruments. This appeared to be the case even though my health was an issue, in that I lacked the stamina to work on it more than a few hours each month. But I had about 12 months with this sparse time to work on equipment for the 2017 eclipse.

However late June 2017 coincided with when I needed to begin to acquire Medicare Supplement insurance. The State mandated that carriers must provide guaranteed issue to anyone in my situation, but the reality was that I got multiple disqualification letters from insurance companies - UNTIL I contacted the State Commissioner of Insurance about the matter. This health isurance problem continued until almost mid August.

Five weeks fighting with health insurance companies prevented completing the 2017 eclipse instrumentation, and imposed the need to leave several days later than planned for the eclipse. That in turn rushed my travel to the eclipse site. The result was that I was very ill during the 2017 eclipse, and unable to operate any of my equipment even close to as well as I had been able to in practice runs I had performed at home.

The 2017 eclipse was the high point in the number of cameras utilized. But it was also the low point in terms of successful use of the equipment.

2024:

During the three years and four months before the 8 April, 2024 total solar eclipse, responsibilities related to being Power of Attorney for an elderly friend prevented any eclipse preparations. After this began to wind down in early February of 2024, it appeared that it would be possible to complete the instrumentation in time for the 2024 eclipse, and it was in fact completed in time.

However, a long outage of Phone AND Internet service by Frontier communications (from mid through late March) prevented putting the trip together in time. After the end of the long outage, I was able to arrange both lodging and an eclipse site, but not the transportation.

And it is CERTAIN that I could have made it to the 2024 eclipse IF the Frontier outage had not happened, or if it had been substantially shorter than the NINE consecutive days that it lasted.

The 2024 eclipse setup was the best one, partly because it was the most defined, because most of the bugs had been worked out, because (in comparison to its functionality) it was fairly easy to set up and use, and because it had some redundancy for the most important functions.


Descriptions, Drawings, and Photos of 1979-2024 Eclipse Equipment:

Over time, the following descriptions of each eclipse setup may be expanded, and a drawing of each setup will be added. In cases where I can get access to equipment that can be used to emulate each setup, such equipment will be assembled and photographed in front of a uniform background, to show what each setup looked like in real life.

The individual web pages for each eclipse do not have as much detail about equipment as what is shown below. Therefore, it is envisioned that appropriate equipment information below will eventually be added to each of the corresponding separate eclipse web pages.

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Equipment for the 26 February, 1979 Total Solar Eclipse:

The equipment used for the 26 Feb. 1979 total solar eclipse had to more or less be limited to cameras and lenses that I already had. This was not a good situation, because for budgetary reasons, my equipment consisted of multiple brands and formats of cameras and lenses, with many of the cameras having different lens mounts.

I also lacked brackets that would facilitate using multiple cameras on a single tripod, and some of my cameras were fairly large. This resulted in a set of equipment that took up a lot of space.

Setting up the 1979 equipment was time consuming, because every camera except one was on a separate tripod, and I was using my big 4" x 5" monorail view camera for the sequence photo. It was also COLD on the morning of the eclipse.

Equipment used for the 1979 eclipse included the following. It is listed with the widest angle first, then is ordered according to decreasing field of view:

  • Minolta SRT-101 camera with 16mm f/2.8 Rokkor-X Fisheye lens (for Umbra photos)
  • Kodak Master View Camera with 90mm f/6.8 Angulon lens (for eclipse sequence)
  • (28mm f/2.8 and 135mm f/2.8 lenses that could be swapped with the 16mm fisheye.)
  • Keystone 8mm movie camera with 38mm telephoto lens (for movies of eclipse)
  • Rolleiflex SL66 camera with 250mm f/5.6 Sonnar lens (for wide field of eclipse)
  • Nikon F and 300mm f/4.5 Pre-Set lens with Soligor 2x tele-converter (for corona)
  • Miranda Sensorex II and 400mm f/6.3 lens with 2.5x tele-connverter (for corona)
  • Other cameras brought to the eclipse site, but for which I had no specific plans, included:
  • Pentax H2 (which could also accept the 28mm T-mount lens); and a Yashica Mat.
When facing the eclipse (toward the SE), the order of deployed cameras, from left to right, was:
  • Kodak Master View Camera with 90mm f/6.8 Angulon lens (for eclipse sequence)
  • Nikon F and 300mm f/4.5 Pre-Set lens with 2x converter (on bottom of tripod column)
  • Miranda Sensorex II and 400mm f/6.3 lens with 2.5x tele-connverter (for corona)
  • Rolleiflex SL66 camera with 250mm f/5.6 Sonnar lens (for wide field of eclipse)
  • Keystone 8mm movie camera with 38mm telephoto lens (for movies of eclipse)
  • Minolta SRT-101 camera with 16mm f/2.8 Fisheye (used in two locations for umbra)
Place Holder for 1979 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment DRAWING.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Place Holder for 1979 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment PHOTO.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Results from the 1979 Total Solar Eclipse

The following results were obtained at the 1979 eclipse:

  • Series of photos showing the umbra approaching from the west.
  • Photos toward the east, showing the round shape of the umbra after totality.
  • Sequence photo of the partial phases (with totality inserted)
  • Photos of totality at 250mm.
  • Photos of totality at 600mm (but not very sharp, for reasons below)
The following things did not go well at the 1979 eclipse:
  • I did not photograph umbra during totality (though doing so had not been planned)
  • The Soligor Tele-Converter unexpectedly fell apart the night before the eclipse (the mount just fell off!), and (due to a lack of tools on the trip) it could not be reassembled in a way that allowed infinity focus. As a result, the 300mm lens had to be stopped down to f/22 to get enough depth of field to photograph totality. The resulting slow f-stop (f/45 including the 2x converter) limited the extent of corona that could be captured.
  • The 400mm lens was not focused for totality. (Focus is not at the infinity stop with the custom 2.5x converter, and I either forgot to focus it, or I moved the focus setting to the infinity stop some time after I had focused it.)
  • I forgot to even start the 8mm movie camera!
  • I had binoculars hanging from my neck, but forgot to use them!
Links to my 1979 eclipse web pages:
Copyright 1979, 1997, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Equipment for the 11 July, 1991 Total Solar Eclipse:

As had been the case in 1979, equipment used for the 11 July, 1991 total solar eclipse had to more or less be limited to cameras and lenses that I already had. Fortunately, I had acquired and built a few items in the previous two years that would be useful in getting good results, while also reducing size and weight.

One of the most important additions was a small Sony TR-7 Video 8 camcorder. This was much smaller and lighter than my Magnavox 2/3" format Newvicon video camera, which required a separate VCR and power supply. Another important addition was a motorized indexing panoramic camera platform that I had designed and built.

However, there still had not been time to think through the system enough to consider using brackets to support multiple cameras, so most of the cameras were on separate tripods.

The exception regarding tripods was that I added a Gitzo side arm attachment to the center column of my tripod to support a second camera. Then, the wide angle camera (for video of the umbra) was on top of the tripod, while a narrower field video camera (for the solar corona) was attached to a slow motion head that in turn attached to the side arm attachment on the tripod center column.

Due in part to the number of tripods, setting up the 1991 equipment was time consuming. But because our eclipse site was only a few tens of meters from the hotel, time was not an issue. However, the size and weight of the equipment, plus the setup time, precluded a last minute change of site from the beach to one of the nearby islands, in the event of clouds.

The equipment used for the 1991 eclipse included the following. As with the 1979 equipment, it is listed with the widest angle first, then is ordered according to decreasing field of view:

  • Pentax H2 with 50mm lens and Soligor 0.15x fisheye attachment (for all-sky photos)
  • Nikon FM with motor drive and 16mm f/2.8 fisheye, on motorized panoramic platform.
  • Sony camcorder (on loan) with 0.5x wide angle attachment (for video of umbra)
  • Sony TR7 Camcorder with custom 3x front converter (on same tripod, for corona video)
  • Vernonscope 94mm f/7 telescope with VersAgonal and Nikon F camera (for corona photos)
When viewed from the north side, the order of the equipment, from left to right, was:
  • Nikon FM with motor drive and 16mm f/2.8 fisheye, on motorized panoramic platform.
  • Vernonscope 94mm f/7 telescope with VersAgonal and Nikon F camera (for corona photos)
  • Sony camcorder (on loan) with 0.5x wide angle attachment (for video of umbra)
  • Sony TR7 Camcorder with custom 3x front converter (lower on same tripod, for corona)
  • Pentax H2 with 50mm lens and Soligor 0.15x fisheye attachment (for all-sky photos)
Place Holder for 1991 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment DRAWING.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Place Holder for 1991 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment PHOTO.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Results from the 1991 Total Solar Eclipse

The following results were obtained at the 1991 eclipse:

  • Dramatic 360 degree panoramas of the umbra before, during, and after totality.
  • All sky photos of the umbra approaching, plus during and after totality.
  • Video of the umbra approaching and engulfing our site.
  • Video and photos of partial phases up to 95 percent (then it got cloudy)
  • Light measurements before and during totality (equivalent to 3 sec at f/4, ISO 100)
  • Obtained adequate location video to produce a video of the trip.
The following things did not go well at the 1991 eclipse:
  • It was cloudy during and after totality (so there are no corona photos)
  • Ran out of film for panoramas mid-totality, and had to switch to taking hand held photos.
  • Video camera was pointed left of optimum position to capture umbra departing.
Links to my 1991 eclipse web pages:
Copyright 1991, 1997, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Equipment for the 3 November, 1994 Total Solar Eclipse:

As with previous eclipses, the equipment used for the 3 Nov. 1994 total solar eclipse had to more or less be limited to the cameras, lenses, and telescopes that I already had. The basis for most of it was the equipment I used at the 1991 eclipse.

However, I did acquire a compact JVC GR-SZ7 S-VHS camcorder shortly before the 1994 eclipse trip. This was done because a second camcorder would be needed if I was going to simultaneously obtain umbra and corona video. Also, due to their higher tape transport speed, S-VHS camcorders tended to have fewer recording artifacts than Video8 or Hi8 camcorders.

I lacked custom brackets that would facilitate using multiple cameras on a single tripod, but I had acquired a Bogen cross bar that was capable of supporting four cameras. It had two sliding castings that accepted tripod heads, plus 3/8 threaded studs at each end. Due to using the cross bar, setting up the 1994 equipment was not as time consuming as previous setups.

However, some of aspects of the equipment had to be disassembled down to almost component level in order to fit in luggage I could handle at an airport and transport on a flight. Even after this disassembly, the equipment (plus clothes) still required two checked bags and two carry on bags. The disassembly necessary for transport required that I have more than a day of time to reassemble and test the equipment after arriving in the host country (in that case, Bolivia).

Unfortunately, impositions by an aspiring (but failed) local politician and his rich cronies prevented having time to fully do this. (They also interfered with every other aspect of the trip.) And my lackluster 1994 results show it.

Equipment used for the 1994 eclipse included the following. It is listed with the widest angle first, then is ordered according to decreasing field of view:

  • Nikon FM with motor drive and 16mm f/2.8 fisheye, on motorized panoramic platform.
  • Sony TR7 camcorder with 0.45x fisheye attachment (for video of umbra)
  • Nikon F with 20mm f/3.8 Vivitar wide angle lens (for photos of eclipse over horizon)
  • (This Nikon F camera was also removed from the 20mm lens and used on the telescope.)
  • Canon Photura 135 camera (for site photos, and eclipse over horizon)
  • Nikon F with 350mm f/5.5 pre-set lens (for wider corona photos)
  • Fisher FVC-770 8mm camcorder with its standard zoom lens (for wider corona video)
  • Vernonscope 94mm f/7 telescope w/VersAgonal and Nikon N2020 camera (corona photos)
  • JVC GR-SZ7 S-VHS Camcorder with custom 3x front converter (for corona video)
When viewed from the west side, the order of the equipment, from left to right, was:
  • Nikon F with 20mm f/3.8 Vivitar wide angle lens (On Cross Bar, for eclipse over horizon)
  • Nikon F with 350mm f/5.5 pre-set lens (on Cross Bar, for wider corona photos)
  • Nikon FM with motor drive and 16mm f/2.8 fisheye, on motorized panoramic platform.
  • Sony TR7 camcorder with 0.45x fisheye attachment (on Cross Bar, for umbra video)
  • Canon Photura 135 camera (on Cross Bar, for site photos, eclipse over horizon)
  • Vernonscope 94mm f/7 telescope w/VersAgonal and Nikon N2020 camera (corona photos)
  • JVC GR-SZ7 S-VHS Camcorder with custom 3x converter (on CW shaft; corona video)
  • Fisher FVC-770 8mm camcorder w/standard lens (on separate tripod; wider corona video)
Place Holder for 1994 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment DRAWING.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Place Holder for 1994 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment PHOTO.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Results from the 1994 Total Solar Eclipse

The following results were obtained at the 1994 eclipse:

  • 360 degree panoramas of umbra before and after (but not during) totality.
  • Wide angle photo of eclipse over eastern horizon.
  • Medium angle photo of sun and horizon just before second contact.
  • Wide angle video of umbra approaching and engulfing our site.
  • Wide angle video of eclipse over horizon, plus of umbra departing.
  • Corona photos at three focal lengths, and on three types of film.
  • Close up corona video.
  • Measurement of light level during totality, but only via photos.
  • Viewed corona at 20x through telescope for a memorable 10-20 seconds.
The following things did not go well at, or before or after, the 1994 eclipse:
  • Impositions by a failed politician and his rich cronies interfered with everything:
  • I became seriously ill (to where I needed surgery) due to demands by the politician, etc.
  • Did not get to adequately brief our group about the eclipse (would have reduced confusion)
  • Did not obtain properly exposed 360 degree panorama (for experiment data) during totality.
  • Did not take photos with Canon Photura 135 during totality.
  • Solar filter was left on the medium field corona video camera during totality.
  • Was not able to take enough light readings for an eclipse light curve.
  • Did not get to view or image Venus while it was visible near the sun after totality.
  • Did not get to do subsequent planned observations and photography of southern sky objects.
  • Unable to obtain enough location footage for eclipse video, so adequate video was not made.
  • Did not get to spend much time with an extraordinary woman (Willma Alcocer) I met there.
Links to my 1994 eclipse web pages:
Copyright 1994, 1997, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Equipment for the 24 October, 1995 Total Solar Eclipse:

As had been the case for eclipses that I had observed before, equipment used for the 24 Oct. 1995 total solar eclipse in Thailand had to more or less be limited to cameras and lenses that I already had. However, many parts of the 1994 eclipse setup (sans the 94mm telescope) were useful as the basis for the 1995 eclipse equipment.

What was different about 1995, is I decided that the entire setup, including all of my clothes, etc., would fit in two rolling carry on bags. This was done mainly because the connection time in Hong Kong was going to be fairly short, and I did not want to risk having important equipment in a checked bag that might not make the connection. I needed only look back to the 1994 Bolivia trip, where NONE of the checked bags had arrived on time - or even on the same day as my flight.

Because of the self-imposed luggage constraint, some aspects of the 1995 equipment, including the main tripod, had to be partially disassembled to fit the carry-on bags. Therefore, as in 1994, it would be necessary to assemble some of the 1995 equipment after arriving on the host country (Thailand), then transport it to the eclipse site in a partially assembled configuration. After this, the equipment could be set up on site in about an hour.

Instead of a telescope, I used a 300mm f/4.5 ED Nikkor lens along with two products that my company offered. The first if these was the DiaGuider, which was a combined image switcher and off-axis guider that utilized a 1 inch prism. Using the DiaGuider made it possible to observe and photograph the eclipse with the same lens or telescope.

The second product was the VersaScope (TM) Adapter, which was a camera mount adapter with a front mounted Barlow lens that fit on the back of lenses that had enough room behind the rear element to accommodate the front Barlow. The VersaScope adapter provided enough back focus to use the DiaGuider behind the camera lens, while providing a magnification of slightly more than two. The Barlow added some field curvature, but for a total solar eclipse, its lack of flare and ghost images made it superior to a conventional 2x converter.

For more stability and to save space, the 300mm lens was mounted directly onto one cross bar castings via a large 3/8 inch thread to 1/4-20 adapter. The casting was rotated around the cross bar for vertical pointing, and the tripod head attach screw was loosened to move the lens in azimuth.

To get the cross bar to fit carry on luggage, it was shortened from 23 inches to 20 inches, then an extender was made for the left end. A small clamp with a 1/4-20 screw on it was then used on the extender to support the Canon Photura 135 camera.

Equipment used for the 1995 eclipse included the following. It is listed with the widest angle first, then the rest is ordered according to decreasing field of view:

  • Nikon F with 50mm lens and Soligor 0.15x fisheye attachment (for all-sky photos)
  • Nikon N2020 and 16mm f/2.8 fisheye Nikkor lens on motorized panoramic platform.
  • 14mm f/3.5 Sigma lens (to swap with all-sky lens, for photos of eclipse over horizon)
  • Sony TR7 camcorder with 0.45x fisheye attachment and 0.7x converter (for video of umbra)
  • Canon Photura 135 camera (for site photos, and wider angle corona)
  • Nikon N2020, 300 f/4.5 ED Nikkor, Versacorp Versascope Adapter, DiaGuider (corona pix)
  • JVC GR-SZ7 S-VHS Camcorder with custom 3x front converter (for corona video)
When viewed from the west side, the order of the equipment, from left to right, was:
  • JVC GR-SZ7 S-VHS Camcorder with custom 3x converter (on separate tripod, corona video)
  • Canon Photura 135 camera (for site photos, and wider angle corona)
  • Nikon N2020, 300 f/4.5 ED Nikkor, Versacorp Versascope Adapter, DiaGuider (corona pix)
  • Nikon N2020 and 16mm f/2.8 fisheye Nikkor lens on motorized panoramic platform.
  • Sony TR7 camcorder with 0.45x fisheye attachment and 0.7x converter (for video of umbra)
  • Nikon F and 14mm f/3.5 Sigma lens (eclipse over horizon; all-sky lens in tripod apron)
Place Holder for 1995 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment DRAWING.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


1995 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment Photos.
LEFT: The 1995 eclipse equipment set up to practice procedures before departure. All of the cameras except the video camera farthest to the left are mounted on a Gitzo 326 tripod with a Bogen cross bar attachment. The small blue control box near the top of the right tripod leg includes circuitry to automate operation of the indexing rotary camera platform, one of the cameras on it, and the camera on the 300 mm ED Nikkor lens, which is just left of the tripod center column. In order to minimize camera shake, the automated control synchronizes the cameras so they will not fire while the indexing platform is rotating. The video camera on the separate tripod is fitted with a home made 3x converter lens. It is on a separate tripod to isolate it from vibrations caused by operation of the equipment on the main tripod.
UPPER RIGHT: Close up of the prototype Versarama (TM) indexing rotary camera platform and its remote automated control. The right angle bracket on top allows two cameras to be attached with their entrance pupils equal distances from the center of rotation for stereo imaging, or for one camera to be positioned directly over the center. The camera is offset here because a second camera was intermittently used on the other side of the bracket.
LOWER RIGHT: All of the equipment fits into two standard carry on bags. The photo vest (shown beside the luggage) has a lot of pockets for a few extra items.
Copyright 1995, 1998, 2017, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Results from the 1995 Total Solar Eclipse

The following results were obtained at the 1995 eclipse:

  • 360 degree panoramas of the umbra before, during, and after totality.
  • All-sky photo of umbra in the sky about a minute before totality.
  • Photo of eclipse over horizon with 14mm wide angle lens.
  • Wide angle video of umbra approaching, plus during and after totality.
  • Corona photos at 600mm focal length, including of diamond ring.
  • Photographed lunar outline up to 1 minute and 46 seconds before totality.
  • Video of corona at equivalent focal length of about 700mm.
  • Observed corona through binoculars for about 20 seconds.
  • Observed lunar outline up until 3 minutes after the end of totality.
  • Adequately documented the eclipse setup via photos and video.
  • Between Pierre and I, we obtained enough location footage for a video of the trip.
The following things did not go well at the 1995 eclipse:
  • Almost nothing went wrong, and all objectives were accomplished!
  • This is the only eclipse for which I had enough sleep. (And were no Bolivian politicians!)
Links to my 1995 eclipse web pages:
Copyright 1995, 1997, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Equipment for the 21 August, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse:

Unlike for previous eclipses, a considerable amount of equipment was acquired and tested before the 21 Aug. 2017 total solar eclipse.

The tests focused on which long focal length (250mm or longer) camera lenses and telescopes were the best at imaging earthshine on the crescent and half moon, since this is a reasonable test for evaluating how well the same optics may image earthshine on the moon (as I had clearly done in 1994) during totality. Other tests emphasized wide angle lenses and fisheye attachments.

Other new (to me) items included several (used) micro 4/3 cameras, plus a used Pentax Q camera, a Pentax Q7 camera, a used Panasonic camcorder that records to an SD card, a Nikon 3x converter lens, several new adapters, two heavier tripods, and three sets of custom camera brackets that I had designed, and a second Fornax LighTrack II star tracker.

This was on track to be a very robust and well defined setup. However, the health insurance acquisition issues above prevented finishing it in time, and I had to leave home for the eclipse, several days later than planned, with extra equipment and tools in tow so I could try to finish the setup at the motel in the host state, Idaho.

The setup still was not fully defined on the morning of the eclipse, so some cameras were eliminated at the last minute. Others could not be set up because I physically could not adequately control my hands when they were above shoulder level on that particular day.

Setup time on site stretched well into the partial phase of the eclipse, which had never been the case for me at an eclipse before. There were equipment malfunctions too, which also had not happened before.

Equipment used for the 2017 eclipse included the following. As with the other lists, equipment is listed with the widest angle first, then ordered according to decreasing field of view:

  • See my 2017 total solar eclipse web page (linked below) for details. (It's a long camera list!)
Place Holder for 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment DRAWING.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


2017 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment Photo.
The main assemblies in the 2017 eclipse equipment are the Corona Video Assembly (left) which has 6 cameras, the Corona Still Image Assembly (center) which also has 6 cameras, and the Wide Angle Assembly (right) which has 12 cameras and a small visual telescope.
After this picture was taken, the camera at upper right stopped working and was eliminated from the setup.
Also, the the camera on the low tripod near the center was not used.
A sequence camera (not shown) was mounted on a separate tripod.
On eclipse day, only two of the 8 cameras on the top part of the Wide Angle Assembly produced any useful results.
This was because my hands did not work well when above shoulder height that day, so I could not bypass the clock setting screen in the two gray camcorders, or use the yellow all sky camera. The two cameras on the panoramic platform turned themselves off (power management could not be disabled) while dealing with the other issues.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Results from the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

The following results were obtained at the 2017 eclipse:

  • (See my 2017 total solar eclipse web page for the results list, plus details.)
The following things did not go well at the 2017 eclipse:
  • (See my 2017 total solar eclipse web page for the failure list, plus details.)
Links to my 2017 eclipse web pages:
Copyright 2017, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Equipment for the 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (But used only at a partial eclipse!)

Equipment for the 8 Apr. 2024 total solar eclipse was based in large part on the equipment used in 2017, except that lessons learned in 2017 had been considered in modifications, subractions, and additions to the equipment.

Aspects that stayed the same included the main camera brackets, many of the cameras and lenses, and the Fornax LighTrack II open loop tracking mounts.

Aspects that changed included the following:

  • Using Fuji X cameras to extent affordable (mainly for their marked shutter speed dials)
  • Using Entaniya HAL 250 degree fisheye lenses as the primary VR optics (no stitching)
  • Eliminated Olympus 8mm f/1.8 AF lens (due to LACK of MANUAL FOCUS SWITCH)
  • Small telescopes (Ad Astra III, TeleVue 60) instead of camera lenses for corona photos.
  • Custom compact wedge used for tracker, instead of one of the large Gitzo PL5 tripod heads.
Equipment used intended for the 2024 total eclipse included the following. It is listed with the widest angle first, then is ordered according to decreasing field of view:
  • See the "Instrumentation" part of THIS web page for details.
Place Holder for 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment DRAWING.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Place Holder for 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment PHOTO.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Results from the 2024 Total Partial Solar Eclipse

The following results were obtained at the 2024 eclipse:

  • Photos and sequence of PARTIAL phases (since not in the path of totality!)
  • Hydrogen-Alpha photos of moon covering and uncovering prominences.
The following things did not go well at the 2024 eclipse:
  • Several contentious parties complicated being a friend's POA for years.
  • Frontier Internet AND Phone service failed for NINE days, while I was trying to arrange transportation to the 2024 eclipse, so I did not get to go to the path of totality!
  • Solar image not optimally positioned in Coronado PST for prominences before first contact.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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© Copyright 1979, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2017, 2018, 2023, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles.
All Rights Reserved.

jcharles *at* eclipsechaser dot com

Document (2024 eclipse page, unpublished) created:
xx xxxx, 2024 and onward (some parts created as place holders before eclipse).
Document draft completed: 23 Mar. 2024 (unpublished).
First uploaded and linked to EclipseChaser.com: 27 Mar. 2024
Last modified: 06, 09, 16, 21 Apr. 2024.
Most recent change: Added eclipse equipment comparison chapter.
Other revisions: xx xxx. xxxx, None to date.