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The lesson learned from the April 8 total solar eclipse: follow Marcy! That’s Marcy Cohen, a friend from the New York Amateur Astronomers Association (AAA).

With a vigilant eye on a weather/cloud app, she insisted we go to Sherbrooke, Quebec from Watertown, New York to view the eclipse. This was on April 7. She was right. It was her first total eclipse and she was determined to see it, so we followed.

Marcy, Keith, me and John by a town sign.
Marcy, Keith, me and John by a town sign.

You may remember from a previous post that my plan was to be in Fredericksburg, Texas with my friend Rush at a campground. We had prepared a year in advance for this and were both looking forward to the experience.

Marcy also had Texas plans with her friend Keith, but weather forecasts showed clouds in Texas and clear skies in parts of the Northeast. We decided to meet in Watertown instead, 1,845 miles and 180 degrees from the original location.

Our friend John, also from the AAA, was also in Watertown with his family, having changed from Niagara Falls. We spend Sunday scouting out locations in nearby Cape Vincent, then testing our equipment under a brilliantly clear and sunny sky.

But as it turned out, you needed to get even farther east to really be under a clear sky. Ventusky, a really great cloud app, was showing parts of Quebec to be clear the afternoon of April 8. And Sherbrooke was only a 4 ½ hour drive for us.

John couldn’t go to Quebec with his family and made plans to head to Vermont. Luckily, Marcy and I had talked before the trip about bringing our passports in case we traveled to Canada. We set out just before 6:00 am on eclipse morning.


Marcy and Keith with their eclipse t-shirts.
Marcy and Keith with their eclipse t-shirts.

Keith found a nice B&B, Auberge de la Tour et Spa, in Magog, a suburb of Sherbrooke. The prices were not outrageous. We headed there first. The proprietor was excited about the eclipse; she was going to view it from a nearby mountain top. On a local map, she pointed us towards a small park along Lake Memphremagog, which happened to be a 9-minute drive from the Auberge.

This was around 11:30 am. We wanted to get set up in the park before the 2:16 pm start of the eclipse, so we skipped lunch and survived on our snacks. Marcy reported she saw people with baguettes and croissants along the beach. We wondered why we didn’t have any.

The beach turned out to be a beautiful location to watch an eclipse. There were a few hundred people there, enough to make it festive but not overcrowded. Excitement grew as the crowd saw, through their eclipse glasses, the moon taking bigger “bites” out of the sun. A cheer went up as the moon was almost covering the sun, then another cheer as totality was reached.



Our setup on the beach with Marcy.
Our setup on the beach with Marcy.

I’m always struck by how quickly the light goes—like a light switch is turned off. Suddenly, we were in near darkness, similar to a dark twilight. It was an unreal sight to see the eclipsed sun hanging in the dark sky above us. The temperature had been dropping in the last 10 to 15 minutes before totality and it felt cold. During a total eclipse, the sky along the horizon appears orange like a sunrise or sunset. I looked out onto the lake and the water was as orange as fire.

As we looked up to the solar corona, we could see a bright red spot near the 7:00 position. Keith loaned me his binoculars to take a closer look. We had no idea what it was, but it looked quite eerie. Later we found out it was a very bright solar prominence of plasma that extended out from the solar and lunar disks.

Totality, April 8, 2024.
Totality, April 8, 2024.

The moon receded off the face of the sun and some thin clouds appeared near the end of the eclipse. I hurried back to the Auberge to send some pictures out to my former employer, Agence France-Presse. We had a toast with sake (brought by Marcy, another reason to follow her on trips!) Then a celebratory dinner in town for the eclipse and for Keith, whose birthday is also April 8.  

I posted photos on the home page, and was fortunate to have my favorite photo selected for NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day for April 9.

Below is an amazing view from the International Space Station of the moon’s shadow over Quebec and Maine. We’re in the picture!

Totality over Lake Memphremagog, Magog, Quebec, Canada.
Totality over Lake Memphremagog, Magog, Quebec, Canada.
A view from the International Space Station of the moon's shadow over Quebec and Maine. Keith aligned the photo with a map of the area, we are the yellow dots on the map.
A view from the International Space Station of the moon's shadow over Quebec and Maine. Keith aligned the photo with a map of the area, we are the yellow dots on the map.

Eclipse Preparations

The total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024 is coming soon. I’ll be in Fredericksburg, Texas with some friends hoping to see the over four minutes of totality.

Here are some video tutorials to help if you are interested in photographing the eclipse:

Adorama NYC How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse Demo video

Adorama blog: Guide to Solar Eclipse Photography

Amateur Astronomers Association of NY YouTube:

Transition Exposures

Wide-angle sequence composite

Telephoto sequence composite

How to Photograph the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse


Annular Eclipse

I was very fortunate to travel with friends to be on the exact centerline of the Oct. 14, 2023 annular solar eclipse at Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico.

We gathered at the campground two days before the eclipse and woke up at 4:15 am the day-of to beat the crowd at the entrance gate. We managed to secure the locations we had scouted out the day before. It was amazing to experience the eclipse among the sacred great houses of Chaco. We set up by the one called Pueblo Bonito, which has stood for over 1,100 years.

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Infinite Night

The Infinite Night exhibit in the Schaefer International Gallery at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, Sept. 6 to Oct. 22, 2022.

A big mahalo to Neida Bangerter, Jonathan Clark, Peter Holland and everyone at the gallery for the super installation. Their hospitality made the experience amazing. Continue Reading


Opening Night

Aloha all! It’s been a whirlwind trip on Maui so far. The greatest part of this trip is my sister Maya met up with Ann and me and our good friends Jon and Amy from the Bay Area came for the show and to see the island.

The exhibit is beautifully presented in the Schaefer International Gallery at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center thanks to Neida Bangerter, Jonathan Clark, Adam and others. The large space was divided into two large spaces, one for the Haleakala photos, one for the other national parks. Lots of space for people to move around and look at the photos. It’s so great to see the photos up on the wall.

There was a very nice opening reception for the exhibit Saturday evening. I was presented with three beautiful leis- a very long one made from tea leaves from our friend Amy, an incredible one from Neida and the gallery and one of interlocking paper from Barbara, a docent at the MACC and a member of the local Buddhist Temple.

I did three gallery talks so far. A day before the opening I spoke with the gallery volunteers about the work. They were all curious and asked many questions. I did a short talk during the opening reception. On Sunday I teamed up with Haleakala National Park ranger Theresa Fernandez who provided really moving Hawaiian stories and words for what people were seeing in the photos. 



It looks like I'm the opening act for the Stylistics!
I received 3 beautiful leis at the opening reception, all amazing.
Haleakala ranger Theresa Fernandez and me after our Sunday Night Sky Stories talk. (Mahalo Neida for the photo)
A walk through with gallery volunteers on Friday evening. (Mahalo Neida for the photo)

Heading to Maui

Aloha everyone, Ann and I are headed to Maui for the exhibit of my night sky photos, Infinite Night, at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. Mahalo to Schaefer Gallery director Neida Bangerter for sticking with the idea over the last 3 years and a couple of pandemic postponements. Thanks to the talented staff at the gallery for producing this really nice evite/poster for the Infinite Night exhibit. The show will feature mostly work from Haleakala National Park and my 2019 residency there. Also to be shown will be work from Arches, Chaco Culture, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone National Parks.

Thanks to County of Maui, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Haleakala Conservancy and Hawaii Pacific Parks for your support!


Big Prints!

All the printing is finally done for the Maui exhibit! I inspected and signed the giant prints produced by Laumont Studio in Long Island City, Queens, on Tuesday.

They really look great in person, although it’s hard to get across the scale in these blog photos. A big thanks to Kristen in the UV/Pigment department, who guided me through this project and all the various proposals since 2019. Three panorama images taken at Haleakala National Park were printed on a fine weave linen, 95 inches wide (almost 8 feet). These are the biggest prints in the exhibit, by far the largest I’ve done from any image. Painters use this linen as a canvas to show really fine detail. After the surface is finished with gesso, Laumont can print an image on the white surface. The pliable linen allows the lab to roll up the finished prints around a large tube and suspend that in a large box for shipping. The Schaefer Gallery in Maui will attach the big linen prints directly to the walls. I can’t wait to see them displayed!

(Thanks to my former AFP boss Don Emmert for taking the photos; he joined me at the lab with his daughter Samantha).

Looking at the prints with Kristen, I'm on a stool and not levitating.
Viewing two prints with Kristen, standing on a stool.
Signing a print.

Preparing for Maui exhibit

In March 2019 I was artist-in-residence at Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii. At the end of my residency, Neida Bangerter, director of the Schaefer International Gallery at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, offered to show my work at the gallery. Well, a year went by, and we all know what happened then.

Now, after a couple of pandemic-related postponements, I’m proud to announce that the exhibit of my night sky work will finally be opening at the center in September! The show is called Infinite Night and it will be up from September 6 to October 22. Over half of the photos will be from Haleakala National Park, and the rest from other national parks on the mainland.

Richard unveils a 40x60 inch print.
Matt shows one of the Haleakala mounted prints, ready to be framed.

In late July I went to Flagstaff, Arizona, to sign the final prints of some of the pictures in the show. I work with Richard Jackson, one of the best printers in the business, who did an amazing job helping me fine-tune the digital files to print well on fine art paper. He also recommended a new type of paper, Canson Infinity’s Baryta II paper, which I’ve never used before, and the prints look great—better than ever!

Sixteen of these prints were framed by The Framing Department at Hidden Light lab, also in Flagstaff. Kristen and Matt Beatty did a really good job mounting and placing the photos in a simple black frame.

Six really big prints will be hung unframed. Those were rolled around a large tube for shipping to Maui.

In the next post, I’ll show three giant panoramas being printed on a fine weave linen.

Matt and one of the framed prints.
Six very large prints are rolled around a tube and wrapped, ready to be packaged for shipping.

New Mexico surge


Social distancing at Ft. Union. My walk back to the housing area (rooftops on the left). (Click on photos to enlarge)

It’s been a busy week since I last posted to the blog. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued strict restrictions due to a surge in COVID-19 cases from last Monday until Nov. 30. People are ordered to stay at home except for essential activities. Non-essential businesses have to stop in-person services and essential businesses are to limit their capacity. The state has travel restriction if you enter New Mexico. There has been a mask mandate for anywhere outside your home. In announcing the restrictions, she said, “Make plans for a different kind of Thanksgiving – one without non-household members.”

The numbers are not high by New York standards but the total population is not large so the rate of infection is high for many counties. Fortunately I’m in Mora County, which is 1,934 square miles, population 4,881. They reported 2 cases on Friday.

The Ft. Union park is still open but the visitors center is closed. Brochures are out on a table at the entrance and the trail through the fort is self-guiding. The rangers are good about wearing masks in their offices and around the housing area. It is strange to be isolated out here and seeing occasional news reports.

From what I’ve seen, people seem to be taking this seriously. I went shopping this past Thursday in Las Vegas and the Lowe’s grocery store had many signs at the door an inside instructing shoppers to social distance. They say keep 2 carts apart – roughly six feet. Lots of markings on the floor at the checkout for where to stand and where not to stand. At Semilla Natural Food the precautions were the similar.

For me, it’s pretty low risk at the park. Walking to the visitors center I might see one of the maintenance rangers in his truck drive by. Sometimes there are no visitors in the parking area or park. I did talk in the offices with rangers Mary and BJ yesterday about doing a video interview for their social media as a substitute for the program I usually do as artist-in-residence. And they nicely invited me to the Thanksgiving dinner here in the housing area. If the weather is warm, we’ll eat outside. If it is cold we’ll get our plates and return to our apartments. I just ordered a pie from Pedro’s Bakery in Las Vegas and will report after I pick it up.

The moon has been in a very beautiful crescent phase, getting larger every day this week. I’ve been out every night, sometimes late. I’ve been working on some different ideas about photos and also making some time lapse videos. During these few days, the moon lights up the landscape without washing out the stars. Soon the moon will be too bright, but the last few days have been productive.

Lowe’s signs inside the grocery store.
Beautiful two-day old moon setting. Earthshine can be seen here, a phenomenon observed and described by Leonardo da Vinci. Sunlight reflects off the Earth which then illuminates the night side of the moon (the non-crescent part).
Wagon wheel in the corral lit by the moon.
The International Space Station flies over one of the chimney remnants Friday evening. The 3-minute exposure depicts the station as a streak going through the plane of our galaxy.

Viva Las Vegas! (NM)

The train station, still in use. (Click on photos to enlarge).

Yesterday I drove down to the town of Las Vegas for some shopping. Somehow there is another town called Las Vegas. This one is much smaller than the Nevada version and there aren’t any casinos. It has a nice railroad station and the Castaneda hotel, one of a series of hotels developed by Fred Harvey along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. I took a look at the old central square and there was a big filming production going on. They were filming an episode of a TV show called, “Roswell, New Mexico”. Funny that they came to Las Vegas. I found Semilla Natural Foods for some grocery shopping, which was next to what looked like a pilates/yoga studio.

At the park on Veterans Day, Ranger Greg was dressed in a period U.S. Army uniform from the Civil War era. He thought it appropriate to wear the uniform, which he had done in the past during park events. It was in the 50’s, sunny but cool. Perfect weather, Greg said, for the heavy wool uniform. Greg has amazing knowledge about history of the park, the Native Americans who were part of this region and the Spanish descendants that came up through Mexico (when this was part of Mexico). He also helped run the night sky programs, setting up telescopes and often having groups camp overnight.

The moon has been illuminating the landscape nicely in the early morning hours. The park is very different at night. No big animals, but coyotes that often howl. A bit scary since you don’t know where they are.  

Murals painted on buildings for the TV filming.
Greg in his Civil War period U.S. Army uniform. The rangers greet visitors at an outdoor table.
The Milky Way above a wall lit by the moon.
Remnants of chimneys from the officers houses. Orion and some winter stars are high overhead. On the right is a bright Mars.