A Solar Adventure

April 8, 2024 is no different than April 9th, except for the Moon happening to block the light from the sun for a few hours. I would assume by all the hype associated with a Solar Eclipse that this was a huge deal to quite a few people. It was a really big deal to me and by proxy, my son. Both of us planned our outing weeks in advance. We looked at online maps and searched the web for the best locations close enough to our house to get a great seat. People were traveling as far north as Houlton. That was quite a bit farther than I wanted to travel. I knew I wanted a great spot, but where would be the best spot to go in Maine? I aksed my Son where he would like to go and he responded "Let's go to the park." You know, that is a great idea. The best park in southern Maine is of course, Fort Williams. We have our destination what else do we need? Well we need good gear, food, and a couple of nice chairs. The choice to go to Portland Headlight meant that food was not an issue; there are a few good eateries in the area with ample grab-and-go delights to munch on. The chairs were easy enough to procure at Cabelas. Now what about the gear? I have a moderately good Nikon. Do I really want to spend my time adjusting a camera instead of enjoying the eclipse? I knew the answer to that; nope. So what other than a camera can you use to capture a solar event? Let us google-box it. "Best portable solar telescopes" went into the search box and outspit millions of sources. Celestron, Orion, Skywatcher, and Seestar were among the top brands in the first page. I knew I wanted something small and packable. Given my last telescope was an 8" Dobsonian I knew exactly what I did not want. The Seestar from ZWO caught my eye. I read a few reviews and watched some YouTubers do comparison videos. This little package was exactly what I was in the market for and it would be perfect for a park outing with my son. On the Paypal it went and less than a week later my B&H Photo package arrived.

Shot on Seestar S50 Telescope. Time-lapse April 8, 2024; https://amzn.to/3Vc7nra

Prior to our planned park trip, my Son and I put this little astrophotography telescope to the test. What an extremely simple yet effective device to use. The telescope even came with a high-quality solar filter. This thing is great!

When the 8th rolled around, my Son and I gathered our gear and headed out to the park. We arrived a little early for the show, but this allowed us to pick the best spot. We chose a picnic table high on a hill overlooking the ocean; very picturesque. After about an hour people began showing up and gathering around. I set the telescope up and put it in auto-track mode. As I was setting it up we had acquired quite the gathering around us. Everyone had questions about what I was using and how it worked. I chose to set up a small display with my IPad so that everyone around us could enjoy the solar eclipse. Everyone gathered around, and I did my best to answer questions about eclipses and astrophotography while maintaining my photography goals for the afternoon. It was a great pleasure to meet all these people who had come out to enjoy this event. My son loved the attention too.

After totality came and went, the people also came and went. We finished out the late afternoon gathering a few more photos then packed up and left ourselves. What a great day it was. It was a beautiful sunny Monday and we had found the best spot in Maine.

Thank you to everyone who came out to Ft. Williams and shared the day with my son and me. You really made the event fantastic for both of us.