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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Fast Forward: Top Destinations For Next Years Vacation

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The chances are, you’ve already got your summer vacation all wrapped up. You know where you are going, what you are doing, perhaps you may have already had that relaxing two-week break, and you are already back to work, day dreaming of your next escape. This is where I come in. There is nothing wrong with a bit of forward planning, and often, booking in advance can save you a fair bit of money as well. So I thought I would share with you some of the top destinations to consider for next years vacation.

 

Why not head down under?

 

Australia may seem like a faraway destination, but it is definitely something you will find on many people’s bucket lists, including yours maybe, so why not allow next year’s vacation to be the time you tick a destination off? Heading down under could be a fantastic holiday and one not to forget. You could stay in the bustling city of Melbourne, voted as one of the best places to live in the world. Maybe you want to swim in the Great Barrier Reef or do a road trip and take in as many sights as possible. Or perhaps you just want to head to Surfers Paradise where you can master your surf technique or try out some other water sports. Whatever takes your fancy, Australia is sure to offer it.

 

Fancy an opulent vacation next time round?

 

Maybe you want a vacation that is filled with an opulent lifestyle, never ending shopping experiences, amazing buildings, and even more amazing hotels. Then Dubai is the one for you. Enjoy taking in the sights yourself or book one of the many Dubai tours available to you. Dubai has much to offer for a vacation, and whether you are traveling there as a couple or as a family, you are sure to find something to do to fill your time.

 

The perfect escape?

 

Many of us see our vacations as a chance to unwind from the daily grind and really rejuvenate ourselves. So more people consider beach filled islands as the perfect location for their holidays, and perhaps next year you may want to consider The Maldives. With the sea of stars to accompany you at night and blue crystal waters to soak your feet in by day, there really is no further escape from reality than this collection of islands. Furthermore, you could even choose to stay in an overwater villa, offering you, even more, privacy to relax.

 

Is it all about the food and drink?

 

Finally, if you find yourself to be a bit of a foodie, then you may want to think about heading to the country that one of the most well-loved culinary options comes from, Italy. Italian food can be some of the world’s most favorite cuisine, with the love of pizza and pasta why not head to the place it originated from and sample it at it’s finest? Italy also has many destinations to see including Rome where you can take in the glorious churches and visit Vatican City or shop to you drop on the streets of Milan, to name a few.

 

I hope this has offered some inspiration for your next trip.

 

 

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The Best Mountain Retreats In California

The Transverse Ranges that run along the southern coast of California are home to some of the most beautiful woodlands in the country. There are around twenty peaks to climb if you are serious about your mountaineering but even if you just want a nice weekend getaway there is still plenty to see. Exploring the woodlands that lie at the bottom, you will find a whole host of great wildlife and picturesque views around every corner. Going abroad to visit natural wonders is expensive but it is important to travel. There’s no need to miss out when you’ve got this amazing area right here at home. If you’re considering a trip out to California, these are some of the best places to stay along the ranges.

 

Santa Ynez

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Santa Ynez City is at the heart of this region, situated in the center of the valley near the mountain range. As well as hiking in the mountainous area, the city itself has lots of great things on offer. The original architecture from the late 1800’s still remains untouched, giving the whole place a magical feeling and a rich historical heritage. Any wine enthusiasts out there shouldn’t miss Santa Ynez, the whole region is littered with vineyards. There is also a casino resort there if you’re feeling lucky.

 

San Fernando

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By far the best place to visit in the San Fernando Valley is Sherman Oaks. This lovely little neighborhood is a bit more up to date than Santa Ynez if the history and vineyards don’t do it for you. There are plenty of places to stay like the Best Western Plus Carriage Inn while you enjoy this wonderful suburban area. It has often been described as a mini Los Angeles as it has plenty to offer. The Galleria is home to loads of shops, restaurants, cinemas and even a gym if you don’t want to put your fitness regime on hold while you are away. For something a bit more wholesome, visit the farmer’s market that they hold every Tuesday.  

 

Sierra Madre

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This small community in the foothills boasts some of the best hiking spots along the ranges, as well as much more. Sierra Madre is perhaps most famous for its old playhouse that has survived since the 1920’s. They put on shows that appeal to all ages and tastes so make sure that you catch one while you’re there. Another claim to fame that the area has is the world record for the largest flowering plant in the world. The Wisteria is almost 150 years old and it is certainly a sight to see. Every year, in early spring, when it is in full bloom, there is a festival dedicated to it, so make sure to head down if you visit during the period.

 

Topatopa

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The center of the Topatopa region is the town of Ojai. This is a great choice for anybody that is passionate about their food. There is a great farmer’s market here as well and the region is a big producer of olive oil. You can take a tour of Ojai Olive Oil to learn how it’s made and get a few free tasters. Other attractions include Bart’s Books, the oldest outdoor bookstore in the country. If you’re an avid collector it’s certainly worth a look as they carry a lot of rare books and first editions.

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The Key Things To Consider When Emigrating To Australia

So, you’re planning a big change (a really big change), and are thinking about packing up and moving to the land down under. Maybe you’ve already booked your flights, and all your belongings are in boxes already. Whatever stage you’re at of your emigration adventure, the following things are worth considering, to ensure your journey goes as smoothly as possible.

 

Work

 

Work could well be the reason for your move. If you’ve secured a job in Australia already, then well done; that’s great news. However, you need to reflect on the changes and impact to your life the job may bring you. Try to think about how your new income or wages will affect the lifestyle that you’re used to; it might work out that you have more spare cash at the end of each month. However, if, after you’ve researched into the cost of bills, groceries, and living in Oz, you realize that you’ll need to curb your spending habits; it’s a smart choice to create an action plan of where and how you’re going to do this. By clearly understanding what your new job and lifestyle will entail, you’ll ensure a smooth adjustment to life in Australia and a happier future there.

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/late-running-work-job-24068/  

 

Accommodation

 

You’ll need to sort out rental accommodation before leaving so that you and your family feel as settled as possible when you all arrive. There are plenty of resources online, and you should utilize them, and set aside money for deposits and essential items you’ll need when you get there. Even if your belongings are shipped over in time, it can take a while to find where you want to live in the long run. You might need to use a service like canningvalestorageunits.com.au so that you have the time to find your ideal property whether you’re buying or renting. If your household items are stored safely as you continue your search, you’ll have peace of mind, and it will be a weight off your shoulders.

Image via PEXELS

 

Lifestyle

 

The fun can begin when you embrace your new lifestyle in the Australian sunshine. It’s worth finding groups and activities that you and your family can all get involved in. If you’re experiencing new and fun experiences together, it’ll keep your bonds strong, and you’ll be able to meet new friends so that you can start building your new lives. Sports like surfing or paddle boarding are great options if you want to make the most of the coast. But, if you’re feeling less inclined to dip your toes in the sea, then try to have a regular activity like a walk in your nearest park together. It will be something the whole family will look forward to.

Image via here

 

Homesickness

 

Emigrating anywhere means you have to make a huge adjustment and sometimes, sacrifices. However, fortunately, there are services that allow you to video call friends and family for free; so figure out a time slot that best suits you both and ensures you speak to those back home whenever you can. Remember that they’ll be missing you just as much as you’re missing them. For some tips on combating homesickness, check out gooverseas.com and take everything step by step; you’ll be an expat before you know it.

Image found here: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4033/4582276033_fc88298837_z.jpg  

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How To Prepare For Your Trip To India

Travel Photography India

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If you’re planning on going to India, there are a lot of things you should do in order to properly prepare for the trip.

With this guide, you’ll be able to stay organized and get all the boring things out of the way, so you can focus on having a great time once you’re there.

 

 

Where do you want to go?

 

This is probably one of the hardest things to decide on if you haven’t already thought of exactly where you want to go.

India is packed full of such variety, there are so many things to see, and choosing where you want to go all depends on how much time you have. If you know you’re staying for a while, you have the option to move around a lot more than if you were only staying for a few days.

It’s a good idea to get a guide book as this can recommend areas to stop in, as well as what you can do while you’re there.

 

 

Book your transport in advance

 

A lot of people don’t actually like to book flights and trains in advance because they see it as a restriction, especially if they decide they want to go somewhere else instead, or even stay where they are for a little bit longer than planned.

But it’s very wise to book in advance because the number of people traveling to and from India has increased an awful lot. Even more so by train, as the prices have been dropped a significant amount.

The more popular the train route, the more likely it is to be filled in within a short period of time, so make sure you book before it’s too late.

 

 

Book your accommodation

 

It can be very tempting to wait until you’re in India to get your hotel, because you can try and get a better deal by negotiating rates, but if you’re going to a larger city, it’s best to book your accommodation beforehand, otherwise it may just end up causing you too much hassle. You want to be able to go straight in and find you room after hours of transport, rather than messing around walking the streets trying to find a good offer.

Another benefit from booking online before you arrive is that many companies have deals connected to flights, so you may end up paying a lot less if you book the flight and the hotel together, than if you do it separately. So that’s definitely something you should think about.

 

 

Go to your doctor

 

Your health is always your number one priority when planning a trip overseas. Depending on where you go will also depend on what preventions you should take, so speak to you doctor so you know what kind of injections you will need before going to India. The dates of when you plan on going are also very important, so make sure you have the right information otherwise you may not be getting everything you need.

 

 

Get your visa

 

Anyone who plans of traveling will need a Visa For India unless you’re already a citizen. You will need this before you arrive in the country, otherwise you won’t get in.

If you only plan on staying for under 72 hours, then you can obtain a Transit Visa instead.

 

 

What to pack

 

When you start packing for India, it’s important to consider the country’s dress standards. We all know that certain body parts are covered in India as a form or respect, now whether or not you plan on doing this is entirely your choice – it’s not your culture, so you can wear whatever you want. But having said that, it’s always nice to make an effort and show your respect to other people’s beliefs.

Don’t forget to pack any medication that you take, along with personal care items and money. It’s also a good idea to bring some plug adapters for any electronics you may have.

 

 

How to get around when you’re there

 

If you’re in a big city, then taxis are probably the best way to get around. Not only do they know the best routes to take, but they are extremely cheap too.

If you’re getting a taxi from the airport, you should use a pre-paid service to avoid the risk of being scammed.

 

Trains are known for being very overcrowded and pretty old. They’re fine for short trips, but you probably won’t want to travel a long distance on them, especially not overnight, because it definitely won’t be the most comfortable night you’ll have.

 

 

How to stay healthy when you’re there

 

Whatever you do, don’t drink the tap water, even if it’s filtered doesn’t mean it’s 100% clean, so it’s just not worth the risk of getting ill. This means ice cubes too, so tell them not to put any in your glass if you’re ordering a drink in a restaurant.

 

Always have travel insurance when you go abroad. No matter how fit and healthy you are, you can never know what may happen when you’re away, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

 

How to stay safe when you’re there

 

It has been reported that assaults on women in India have increased, but because of this, there are now extra safety precautions that have been made. For example, there are now women-only rooms and floors in big hotels that are offered to any female travelers and guests.

 

Avoid looking at people for too long, as this can be considered rude, even if you’re smiling. So if you feel eyes on you, don’t feel the need to stare back, just keep on walking in a polite manner.

 

Do all the research you can about India and the places within it. The more you know about the area, the safer you will be. So familiarize yourself with the local information, as well as the dangers and even scams that take place.

 

Don’t walk around with your valuables on show, so that means any expensive jewelry or gadgets you may have – keep them hidden; otherwise you will just be asking for trouble.

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Turn Your Home Into A Castle – Literally

Castles were bulwarks of the medieval era, dominating the landscape wherever they were erected. In the middle ages, they were primarily designed to be battlements and to defend vast tracts of land, but they still doubled up as homes.

Pixabay

 

With the invention of the cannon, castles ceased being defensive installations, but they didn’t end there. In the eighteenth century, people looked back on the castles of the medieval period with a kind of romantic fondness. They loved the chivalry, the tales of Arthur and the majesty that battlements evoked. As a result, they began building their own mock castles – homes that included elements of castles like rounded towers but were still luxury living accommodation nonetheless.

 

Golden Fort

 

One example of a castle that was built for living was Golden Hill Fort. This fort was built on the Isle of Wight back in the 19th century to defend against a French invasion. The fort itself was never actually used in battle. More than a hundred years later, after the Second World War, Golden Hill was converted into a series of beautiful apartments. These apartments became holiday homes where people could enjoy all that the Isle had to offer.

 

When Golden Hill was first bought by Kevin Clarke and Sean Cousins, it was a shell of a building. They worked tirelessly with local planning officials to return the building to its original state. That meant extending the building and getting a roofer to extend the roof, and making sure all 22 chimneys were of uniform height. According to Kevin, the roof was made waterproof for the first time in over a hundred years.

 

Features

 

Now that the roof and the foundations are secure, Golden Hill Fort has been transformed with all manner of luxury conveniences. Guests enter the compound through a trick tunnel with electric gates at either end. When they’ve been through both gates, they enter the refurbished central courtyard, originally designed as a parade ground to muster the troops.

Wikimedia Commons

 

There’s also other mod-cons like CCTV, allowing all entrances to the castle to be monitored remotely. On the roof, guests can enjoy communal gardens and stunning views of the island and the sea all around.

 

Prices

 

Having your own castle is by no means cheap. The average unit, which is just 1,386 to 3,250 square feet will set you back more than $600,000 to $1,500,000. When you consider the types of properties you could get for a similar cost, that’s a lot. But it’s not often that you get to live in a gated community from the middle ages, complete with battlements that’ll keep the riffraff and the French at bay.

 

According to David Brock from the heritage foundation, converting industrial forts into modern homes is relatively easy. Thanks to their modern designs, they share a similar design language with modern homes. But converting castles with stone towers is a lot more difficult. If you want to do this type of thing, you’re better off doing it yourself.

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Get A Piste Of The Action

Whilst it is incredibly exciting that Spring is only a few short weeks away it does, unfortunately, mean the ski season is coming to an end.  We know, we feel it too!

 

However it isn’t too late to head out and enjoy a few more weeks of adrenalin fuelled fun and, with a few little tweaks, you could make this a little bit more luxurious than your last ski trip.

pexels-photo-298007

Image source

 

Heading out to Aspen is a fantastic idea.  The tail end of the season does mean you might lose a little snow quality as the main bulk of tourists have been going hard on the slopes for a few months now and fresh snow is falling less and less, however it does have the added bonus of meaning there are a few last minute deals to snatch up.  If you are in a position to hightail it out of work with 24 hours notice, you could save yourself a small fortune.  Hurrah!

 

This little saving might give you just enough to invest in some pretty awesome airport transportation, rolling into the resort in chauffeur driven style without lugging your skis and bags on a shuttle bus or into a hired car.  Also, who needs a hired car on a skiing trip anyway?  

 

If you have got a great deal on accommodation then you may feel tied to one resort, but the best thing about Aspen is you have so many options and so much access.  If you have been lucky enough to bag a week or two in Snowmass then you are probably not going to want to head off anywhere else.  You have 5547 acres of skiable area, so even though it is renowned as a family resort, there is plenty of space to get away from the crowds and ski your own route.  There is an average of 300 inches of snowfall and it boasts a vertical drop of a whopping 4406 ft.  With some of the best black routes on offer you can test your skills or take a more peaceful approach on one of the novice runs.  

freerider-skiing-ski-sports-47356

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Travel is essential for keeping us healthy of mind and increasing our acceptance. You learn so much about culture and other people.  Skiing in Aspen is no exception to this rule, there is a gorgeous town with pretty little streets and vibrant colourful buildings.  You will find some great bars and brilliant restaurants to spend your evenings in and get to know the locals, who adore the tourist trade.  If you fancy trying something a little different, and give your ski boots a rest, then head off on a dog sleigh adventure.  Everything is provided, even the food, so all you have to do is turn on and tune out.  Enjoying the incredible scenery with only the sound of galloping paws surrounding you.  
We don’t know what you are waiting for? Get online and hunt down those end of season deals.  This time tomorrow, you could be on the piste!

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