Worldwide Eclipse Chasing
04/27/2003
Have you ever heard of an eclipse chaser?

My good friends Mike & Judy from Grosse Pointe Park came to visit this week, and I always enjoy our time together. Judy and I have known each other for more than 20 years, and the three of us have been close friends throughout the years. Each time they visit, I continue to learn more and more about their interests and their interesting lives …

In February 1998, Judy & Mike planned to escape the cold and snow of Michigan by traveling to tropical Aruba for a week-long vacation. Mike’s cousin, who is an avid astronomer, had suggested this trip because a solar eclipse was to occur over this island. Mike, being the avid photographer of the family, packed up his cameras, his telescopes, and his toothbrush for the journey south. Judy, on the other hand, was sure to pack the other necessities needed to enjoy a few days in the sun. As she humorously put it, "we had to rest for a few days before – just to get ready for the eclipse – and then again after the event, since it took so much out of us …" Yeah, right. Aruba will do that to you …

But the phenomenon in the Netherlands Antilles hooked both Judy & Mike into becoming life-long eclipse chasers. Judy describes her first experience at witnessing the "seconds in totality" as a truly moving and emotional experience, and Mike’s pictures definitely demonstrate what she means. What an incredibly unique hobby – to me, it is more like a life-changing adventure.

Tracking another solar eclipse led them to the wildlands of Africa in June 2001. After spending more than a day getting to the other side of the world, their group of travelers camped each night and moved during the day to arrive at the best location to view the longest possible totality (which is the entire timeframe while the moon passes in front of the sun). Imagine traveling around the world to view something that takes only a few hours … but believe me, the other sights of wildlife – the giraffes, the elephants, the birds – made it well worth their journey. I certainly agree - I’ve had the pleasure seeing Mike’s pictures!

Their last ecliptic encounter took place in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in June 2002. This trip was unique because it was an annular eclipse that occurred at sunset with the sun dropping behind the moon as it then passed below the horizon. Mike’s creativeness and skill as a photographer captured this phenomenon in a multiple exposure photo – it is 16 exposures of the sun taken with a special solar filter over the lens, with the 17th exposure taken without a filter 10-15 minutes after sundown. Mike told me that the entire process from first to last exposure was 90 minutes – and that he crossed his fingers a lot. Needless to say, he should be thrilled with the results, as we all are ...

It’s no longer just another day at the office for me, it’s yet another day of amazing things that I learn. Thanks to my guests and my friends for helping me see the world through their experiences! Oh, and yes, I’ll be sure to let you know if there will ever be a Mackinaw eclipse in my lifetime …

More later … have a wonderful week!

Sherree Hyde
Innkeeper/Owner
Brigadoon Bed & Breakfast
www.mackinawbrigadoon.com