Skip to main content [Press Enter].
Home AAL Activities Trips Astronomy News Astrophotography Imaging Tips Books Chautauqua Courses Conferences Downloads Equipment Projects Favorite Links Kansas Astro Links Memberships Telescopes Wallpaper Images About Me Guestbook Site Map

May 20, 2012 Solar Eclipse Expedition to Arizona

In January of 2012 I decided to take a trip to see the annular solar eclipse in Arizona. I asked some of our local astronomy club members if any of them were interested in a road trip but I didn't get any takers. I asked my brother if he would be interested and he said that he would think about it. A few days later he called back and said yes. We started looking for an observing location and after some research we settled on Navajo National Monument. There is one campground there that faces the western horizon and it is at an elevation of 7300 feet. In the mean time I spent the winter and early spring months getting my equipment ready. I sent two Meade mounts (an LXD650 German equatorial and an 12 inch LX200 fork mount) out to get repaired. I also purchased a 60 mm Coronado solar telescope and purchased a couple additional Olympus OM1 film cameras. By late Spring I had converted the 12 inch LX200 mount to a platform to hold the Coronado telescope and two telephoto lens. The LXD650 mount was also ready to hold my 8 inch Meade OTA. The Olympus cameras all required new light seals which I painstakingly replaced using light seal kits that I purchased from a camera repair outfit. Roger came to Lawrence, on May 16, 2012 from Cedar Rapids IA, driving a rented Dodge van. All of our camping gear and telescope equipment filled the back of the van without any room to spare. We left Lawrence on May, 17 and traveled all of the way to Grand Junction, CO in one day. On the next day we traveled through Utah and passed through Monument Valley and the Valley of the Gods. We stopped in Arizona at Navajo National Monument to look over the campground and looked for a backup observing location, which turned out to be near a coal mine on an adjacent mesa. We found one campsite at the campground that had a very nice view of the western horizon and had a good spot to set up the telescopes so we planned on trying to grab that campsite on the morning of the 20th. From there we drove all of the way down to the Meteor Crater and stayed at the campground outside of the crater that is just off Route 66. On Saturday we toured Meteor Crater and then went up to Flagstaff and toured the Lowell Observatory. On Saturday night we set up our telescopes at the Meteor Crater campground and checked out our equipment and made sure that our telescopes were collimated. I did some imaging of Saturn that night. On Sunday morning we broke camp at sunrise and drove all of the way up to Navajo National Monument and grabbed that campsite that we spotted on Friday. Shortly after we started to set up our equipment other people that had a similar intention stopped by and mentioned that they were hoping to grab the same spot. Lucky for us! Since there was plenty of room on the rocky ledge next to our campsite we let other people join us. When the eclipse started I began shooting film and Roger had his digital camera, hooked up to his laptop, shooting images every 15 seconds. On the day after the eclipse we toured the Grand Canyon. On that Tuesday we left for home. We stopped for a couple of hours in Utah to see Arches National Park. After that we drove on to Colorado and stayed in Grand Junction for the night. From there we returned to Lawrence and Roger left the following morning.

The following panoramas were created with Autostich, which is available from the author's (Matthew Brown) home page. Autostich Home Page

Panorama of Meteor Crater taken from the crater rim at the visitor's center. Full sized image. 2,858Kb

Another panorama of Meteor Crater. Full sized image. 1,558Kb

Panorama of Monument Valley. Full sized image. 2,331Kb

Panorama from Arches National Park. Full sized image. 950Kb

Another panorama from Arches National Park. Full sized image. 1,809Kb

Panorama from the Valley of the Gods. Full sized image. 615Kb