The Big Cosmic Show – Total Eclipse 2017

Hi everyone! On August 21st, the solar eclipse took place and what a show it was. The path of totality, where one would see a total eclipse, crossed the U.S.A. from Oregon to South Carolina. I had heard the reports that there would be tremendous traffic in the areas around the path of totality, but, being within 100 miles of a total eclipse for the first time in my life, I decided to go for it. I’d never seen a total solar eclipse and felt it would be almost criminal for me to miss this one because of fears of heavy traffic. And, to get an idea of what to look for during a total eclipse, and also ways of making pinhole viewers, I checked out YouTube, which can be very helpful in finding out about lot’s of things.

The Trip There

I was prepared. Totality in Salem, Oregon would take place around 10:17am local time, so, I got up around 4am and left about 5:15am. I mapped out a back road route in advance and armed with my maps, gps, and a packed lunch, eclipse glasses, a home-made pinhole viewer, and my camera, I set out. Traffic going to Salem was much better than I expected and I arrived there in about an hour and 15 minutes, which is near normal. I realized, people had been arriving over the previous 4 to 5 days, so the influx was more gradual, and I figured this might be the case, but, being a possible once-in-a-lifetime event, I wasn’t taking any chances.

My Viewing Site

I didn’t go to one of the advertised venues, but instead opted for a supermarket parking lot on the east side of Salem. I found easy, and free, parking. The beautiful thing about an event like this is, you can view it from anywhere, it’s not like a greatly anticipated movie, rock concert, or sports event where you have to go to a specific place, this is visible across a wide path from anywhere in town or between towns for that matter.

There were a few others there, including someone with a telescope, using it to project an image of the sun and eclipse on a large white sheet of paper, and this was actually more effective and safer than the glasses, and more detailed than the pinhole viewer, though the pinhole viewer was definitely effective in showing the advancing eclipse.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Man with telescope using it to project image of eclipse on large white paper. Looks great! – 8/21/2017

Remember! – Never look at the sun without certified eclipse glasses or filters! Best and safest is to look indirectly using a projection on a surface or a pinhole viewer! Otherwise your eyes can be damaged instantly! Only during totality in an eclipse is it safe to look with the naked eye!

What I Saw

At first, when the eclipse started, you didn’t notice much darkening or lessening of the amount of light. What you could notice, as I had learned from YouTube, is that, the light coming through the leaves of a tree will actually show the crescent sun as the eclipse advances! I saw this for myself! And, this effect is visible whether or not the eclipse itself is total, partial, or annular. (Where the moon doesn’t quite cover the sun but leaves a full circle of light instead of totality.)

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Crescent suns on the ground after totality as seen through the tree leaves. – 8/21/2017

There is another effect which is sometimes happens just before and after totality, called “shadow snakes”, in which these shimmering shadowy lines appear, but this is somewhat rare and I didn’t see this, but, in retrospect, I could see where it may have been close to happening.

As the light dims, which you do start to notice at around 85-90 percent totality, it looks different from the dimming of light when the sun sets normally or when clouds move in. And, you can “See” the moon’s shadow coming, as a darkening of the sky. It also looked to be changing to a darker blue, again, different from a normal sunset. And, the street and parking lot lights come on as well! Then, totality hits and it gets almost as dark as night much quicker than it would in a normal sunset. At this point, you can look at the sun without protection, with the naked ye, safely. And what a sight!

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Sun in totality. Light from corona makes sun look like it is shining but in actuality, it is dark as it is covered by the moon, which one would see in person or with a better camera. – 8/21/2017

You do see the sun’s corona from behind the moon, which is a pitch black circle in the sky. You can also see stars and planets. I saw Venus, which, where it was, would be completely obscured by the sun’s light before and after totality. In the photo I took, the light of the corona does overwhelm the dark circle of the moon, and no photo does it justice.

The temperature does drop, though I was too engrossed in the eclipse to really notice it myself. Also, all along the horizon, you see distant light as in a sunset, but overhead and nearly to the horizon, it’s a night sky! They refer to this as a “360 degree sunset or sunrise” And it is really different and worth seeing.

Where I was, totality lasted about a minute and 56 seconds roughly. When the sun starts reappearing, there’s a sort of flash at one end of the moon’s rim making it look like a diamond ring. At this time it is no longer safe to look at the sun with the naked eye!

And, the light again looks different from normal sunlight. It first looks like the light is coming from a very powerful electric spotlight from far away, like standing in a big football or athletic field at night with only one light on, shining down on the filed. Then, still slowly but seemingly faster than before totality, the light starts coming back, still with that strange dimness, but then returns to normal. And, on the projection of the sun or through a pinhole viewer, you see a now reappearing and growing crescent sun, the crescent appearing on the opposite side.

Though the totality only lasts a very short time, the partial eclipse usually lasts about two hours, so you can still use the pinhole viewer to view the remaining partial eclipse.

In Conclusion – My Thoughts

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Me just after the totality phase of the eclipse, as shown on the projection in the background. – 8/21/2017

I had considered staying where I lived to view the eclipse, where it would be 99.2 percent totality, but everything I’d read from those who had seen a total eclipse said that there was a huge difference, like the difference between “going to the prom vs actually getting married”, or “hitting 5 numbers in the lottery vs hitting 5 plus the mega or power number for the top jackpot”, so I went and it was worth it! It did take me 2 1/2 hours to get home using back roads, but I’d do it again even if it took me twice as long to get home! I found that the comparisons that I read bout are true and I’m glad I went down to Salem to see my first total solar eclipse! It was quite a show and not one to be missed!

Here’s  the video I took during the eclipse. Enjoy!

Happy Observing!


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Save $Money$ on Hotels with a VPN

When traveling, most of us try to find the best deals for hotels. Hotels and lodging options often take a big bite out of your travel budget but finding deals are usually quite a challenge. Going through many comparison websites just to find the best deal can be time-consuming, though the worst part can be the fluctuating prices.

The main reason why it’s nearly impossible to pin down that elusive good deal is that those comparison websites usually track the location you’re accessing the site from. From this tracking, the sites give you prices based on where you browse from and demand the rate in your specific region. (Flight websites are the same, but you can also find deals on them with a VPN.)

Comparison websites track your location using:

  • Cookies – Cookies track and store your browsing history, which allows comparison sites to detect when you query the search engines for the same search item several times and as such increase the price of available hotels.
  • IP Address – Your IP address also known as Internet Protocol, is the easiest way travel sites are able to detect your location and therefore serve you different hotel prices accordingly.
  • Mobile tracking – The GPS feature on your mobile device, like your smartphone or tablet, can indicate your location. If you are browsing travel sites from your mobile device you will likely see different prices depending on your location.
  • Wi-Fi – If you give websites permission, they will be able to detect your location using your Wi-Fi.

Here’s how to save money on hotels

August is a big month for summer holidays and travel. We decided to check out staying at a luxury hotel, The Goring, in London. This five-star hotel is right next to Westminster Palace, the hub of United Kingdom and right on the doorstep of the Queen herself.

If this place seems a little too pricey, don’t worry. What we’re showing you can be used with any hotel.

We decided to stay for a week from August 11th to 18th on our fictional holiday and the prices below are per day of stay. Here is the original cost of staying at The Goring for one adult:

As you can see, £475 per night for one adult is quite steep even with the promotional offer of 11% off but is the best price available with free cancellation.

Browse from a lower income country

Using a VPN, set your IP address to a lower income country and watch the price difference. For example, if you set your IP address to a server in Indonesia whilst browsing the comparison site Kayak, you will see the prices in the native Indonesian currency. Quickly Google the exchange rate to find out the cost.

A single night’s stay at The Goring costs 8,078,384 Rupiah. However exchanged into GBP, that becomes £470, £5 lower than the original price. It isn’t much, but it adds up over the week stay.

However, if we were to change our IP address to the USA, the price changes again.

When we exchange currencies from USD to GBP we find that the price has gone down from the original £475 to £392, which is a saving of a whopping £83 per day. Over the week that adds up to £581 saved! Whilst in London that can be turned into a shopping spree or a luxurious few days at a spa. Even though the timing for the bookings is the same, the prices vary from the original.

Although browsing from lower income countries typically results in lower hotel rates, it is not always true. Take for example Greece, which has been hit with increasing amounts of debt since the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Greece recently joined the European Union and in doing so rid itself of its former currency and now uses the Euro.

When we exchange the currency of the Euro to GBP the price actually increases by £1. It is not a monumental increase, but you don’t want to be spending more if you don’t have to.

The greatest saving we found happened to be using an Argentinian server:

When we exchanged the Argentinian Peso to GBP we found the price to be £387, which is an even greater saving of £88 per day. This low price is also because of the promotional offer of 18% off as can be seen above.

Not only have we saved due to the currency exchange, but we also saved from a promotional offer on the comparison site itself. Double win! With prices like these, staying in a luxury five-star hotel in the middle of London just got more affordable.

When quoting hotel prices, comparison sites consider your location, the currency you pay with along with the point of sale, and other factors. It is common for customers in different countries using different currencies to see different prices for the hotel.

It goes without saying that if you are looking to save money on hotel bookings, without wasting too much time going through the different sites for a good deal, your best bet is to simply hide your location using a VPN.

Alternative ways of saving money on Hotels

Clear your browsing history

As mentioned earlier, comparison sites track your location and browsing history based on the cookies stored in your browser. They take that information and adjust the prices accordingly. Clearing your cookies and browsing data can help to reset those prices and allow you to see the initial booking cost of your hotel.

However, there is no guarantee that you will be able to secure the cheaper prices you seek, just as if you were browsing anonymously using a private browser session or VPN. It may be beneficial to use the international version of a comparison site e.g. ( for Britain or (.in) for India to see different price quotes for hotel bookings, so you may get lucky.

Choose Off-Peak times of the year

If you are more concerned with saving money rather than the time of year you’d like to book your hotel stay, consider booking a hotel during off-peak periods.

Off-peak periods tend to be during the school term as well as when there isn’t a public holiday coming up. Choosing these times to book your hotel getaway can significantly lower the price you’re offered compared to when everyone else is also booking their hotels at peak times.

Is it legal?

If you’re worried about the legalities of using a VPN to book your hotels, rest assured thatcomparison sites don’t have a problem with this. These sites quote different prices for customers in different locations and browsing with a VPN can help you take advantage of these differences and make a considerable saving.

Looking for a good VPN to save money on hotels? Check out our top VPNs.


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