Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Science and politics never mix

Science and politics never mix…however science transcends political boundaries and ultimately prevails…but not without some intrigue. Alas, even the eclipse in 1991 had a bit of intrigue. As I designed the experiment which will image the corona in white light during the 2017 eclipse, I am reminded of a similar collection of data I took at the 1991 eclipse. My Russian colleagues were very interested in my CCD data. I offered them a disk with the images on it at our ‘after the eclipse going away party’. As we laughed and enjoyed great company amount new found friends and colleagues, one of the Russian scientists became very quiet and pensive. He was concerned about the data on the computer disk and how he would get it back to Russia. Because Russia was a communist country and all the science equipment had to be carefully accounted for and the fact that it had to go from Russia to Cuba then to Mexico for the eclipse…the data disk was not on the manifest. Going through three layers of security from Mexico to Cuba then back to Russia posed a potential security problem. If found the disk might be construed as some nefarious international spy plot. What to do? After about 3 seconds of thought the scientist said the equivalent of “the hell with it” and hid the disk deep in his duffle bag! The data and scientist did make it back to Russia and a paper was published using my data. Here’s the intro from that paper:

The full paper can be found at

Monday, November 28, 2016

Test 3 Complete Solar Video Systems

The solar video system equipment has been completed and tested. The system is robust and works fine. Here is a short video describing the system. Included is the live stream recording during the test. It is available to view on the  http://www.ustream.tv/search?q=2017LiveSolarEclipse page. Inverted video will be corrected by rotating camera 180 degrees. A test will be conducted for those interested and notification will be given prior to the test.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Test 2

It is raining in Tucson today so the test of the solar telescope optical system was conducted inside and the target was a distant mountain. The video was taken through the window...not the best practice but the test wasn't about getting the best image. You might wonder why so many tests. It is one thing to have a great plan designing a system and another to actually implement it. My goal is to have a robust, reliable system in place for the eclipse. The only way to get that result is test, reconfigure and test again...until it's right. So starting the process in November for an eclipse happening in August is just about right. Remember this is only one of several systems that will be used during the eclipse. I post these tests to give you an idea of what is involved in doing science using equipment to collect data. This is the practical "nuts and bolts" part of science that eludes the public.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

For those interested in testing

the live stream system for live solar images step one is to go to the following link and let me know if you can see the channel as 2017LiveSolarEclipse. There is a 10 second saved video called "Test video confirmed playback" click on it an see if it plays back and what the quality is like. The next step is to broadcast live solar video from the telescope. I'll let you know when that will happen. Thanks


Friday, November 18, 2016


Testing of the optical systems

  to be used during the eclipse is  now underway. Several systems will be tested in the coming months. This test was of the system to be used to upload images of the eclipse in real-time to the internet for public distribution.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Completed worst case scenario test of a cellular signal booster. System works fine and will actually improve cellular reliability for connectivity during the eclipse.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Just arrived...the official eclipse banner!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The official expedition logo!


Monday, August 22, 2016

A very nice visualization of the Great American Eclipse from NASA


Sunday, August 21, 2016

 I predict clear skies for eclipse day next year!
Here is the latest satellite image for the area. The patterns have remained consistent over the last 10 years based on the previous post of satellite images. Today's image shows consistency with the past patterns so I would safely say we will have clear skies on eclipse day at the base camp. However there will be a Plan B... we are talking about the weather after all!

21 August 2016 satellite image 1400 UTC

The eclipse occurs one year from today!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Here is a safe way to view any solar eclipse using a pair of binoculars and a screen.  

I recorded this in 2012 for the transit of Venus but the technique works for any observation of the Sun especially solar eclipses.

Monday, August 15, 2016

It is 370 days to the eclipse but one year from today we will be all packed in our RVs
and ready to head out to Douglas, WY

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What will the skies be like on the day and time of the eclipse?

Trying to predict the weather a year in advance is no easy task...however predicting sky conditions is a bit easier. We have archive images from weather satellites that show definite patterns in cloud cover over the Earth. I assembled a number of images from the GOES weather satellite spanning 2006 to 2015 on 21 August at the approximate time of the eclipse of 21 August 2017. It seemed that in 2013 there was a small area of cloud cover during eclipse time. The other years proved to be cloud free. You will notice what looks like a light grey area as well as obvious clouds. The light grey is actually water vapor but not clouds. The satellite sensors detects into the near infra red region of the spectrum which detects water vapor. I will post the 21 August 2016 image when it is ready and we can compare the prediction to the latest weather satellite image one year out.


Countdown to Eclipse Day 2017
Days Until the Great American Eclipse!

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

This is the radio equipment and computer set up that was tested on 27 July 2017 from a campground near Yosemite National Park. The equipment will be used to monitor any emissions from the Sun that will occur during the total solar eclipse in August 2017. All tests were successful...all equipment worked fine and a solar emission was received as well!

Solar emission during test. The time and date are Universal Time

Friday, July 15, 2016

A good solar eclipse expedition needs a good crew. Here is
the best crew anyone could ask for.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The 2017 Great American Eclipse will be a total solar eclipse. Sometimes the Sun and Moon distances are such during a potential total solar eclipse that the Moon's angular size is slightly less than the Sun's. This results in a total annular eclipse when the Sun is not completely "covered" by the Moon but a ring of light is seen around the Moon. This is a total annular eclipse. Linda and I went on an annular eclipse expedition for a total annular eclipse on 20 May 2012. You need solar filters for this type of eclipse. Unlike totality during a solar eclipse the annular eclipse lets through lots of sunlight that can damage your eyes.
Here is a video of that eclipse. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

My interest in astronomy began at a very early age. I can remember laying outside on a cold winter's night with a flashlight and a star chart trying to determine the relationship of the sky to the chart. I was probably 10 years old. I kept at it and I eventually figured it out opening a whole new world for me. I was 11 years old when I started working delivering bread with the local baker. I would save my money and one of the first things I bought was a small 80 power telescope. I was 13 and there was a total solar eclipse across Canada on 20 July 1963. Although totality was not visible from Rhode Island the partial phase was. I set up my telescope and with my Father's camera took my very first eclipse photograph. Here it is with the note I wrote on the back of the photo.


Here's a sample from several of my past eclipse expeditions and also the reaction of some of the observers who experienced the eclipse. It is a definite mood changing event...a humbling experience...the Sun isn't supposed to go dark during the day...what's happening?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Enjoy this blast from the past. The motivation for Papa's 2017 Great American Eclipse Expedition. The actual recording of my comments after the eclipse. This excerpt is from an education CD I produced about eclipses. I am thinking of offering them for sale to help defray the cost of the expedition but it was made using 1991 technology and I discovered will not play on anything beyond Windows XP.  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Here's the path of the Moon's shadow during the 2017 Great American Eclipse. It goes from "sea to shining sea" hence "The Great American Eclipse". There are may considerations for choosing the ideal point on the center line to view the eclipse...weather/clear skies are the most important. I selected Douglas, WY for a number of reasons...weather conditions on the day of the eclipse looks really good...but then again it's weather we're talking about and it is a little over a year from now. The odds look good non the less!

The reservations for the 4 RVs that will be used to transport my kids, grand-kids and scientific equipment have been made. We pick up the RVs next 16 August 2017 to pack them up and get ready to leave the next day. The reservations have been made for the 2 stops along the way. Laura and Santos picked the route and stops...all agreed. We arrive at the base-camp in Douglas WY on 19 August 2017

What would a great scientific expedition be without matching T-shirts? Here is a preliminary design subject to change based on what the Elise and Wyatt come up with.

Papa (Prof. David G. Iadevaia) has been planning this particular Great American Eclipse Trip for 26 years...since the last Great Eclipse in 1991. Due to circumstances beyond his control his children were unable to travel to LaPaz, Mexico with him for that total solar eclipse...vowing to himself that he would one day be with his children to experience a total solar eclipse. The Great Solar Eclipse of 2017 is that eclipse and as an added bonus not only will his children and their spouses be with him but his grand children will be there as well. This blog will document the journey from a past wish to a current reality...Papa'sGreat American Eclipse Expedition!