Eclipse from Twin Peaks in San Francisco

by Bob Berta

The Twin Peaks/San Francisco viewing site was GREAT...Peter Schumacher, his wife and kids had their Meade Newtonian, Bob Naeye had his Orion 80ST and TV 102, and I had my 8" SCT Celestron Deluxe setup for the crowd...which was HUGE. It was standing room only. Long lines of cars snaked up the Twin Peak roads with people parked all over the place and the grassy areas and parking lots full of people.

We setup in front of the retaining wall in front of the parking lot to block the wind. Turns out our concern about the wind was was actually quite delightful.

While waiting for the moon to climb above the low water vapor/fog I trained my telescope on Jupiter to the delight of the crowd. Many people viewed the glorious site of the giant planet and its four moons for the first time and remarked how moving that image was....reminded me of the very first time 45 years ago when I first trained my little 50mm Tasco refractor that my parents bought for my 10th birthday on the moon, Saturn and Jupiter and what an impression they made on me at that early age. There were lots of kids too and I am sure they experienced the thrill I did so long ago with their first look through a telescope.

At first we missed the very earliest stages due to low water vapor/fog...but shortly the moon got above the "stuff" and the views were terrific. The reddish hues and darkening was dramatic and we enjoyed the changes in the visual effects as the shadow crawled across the moon. The effect later of the darkening due to the penumbra was also interesting...normally the full moon would be very bright in our scopes...but the penumbra noticeably dimmed the view...sort of like using a neutral density filter.

It would be hard to estimate the total number of people on Twin Peaks as they literally covered the whole mountain...but I would think there were several hundred at the peak. Bob Naeye, Peter and I also made a point of telling people where they could view through telescopes next month (SF City Star Party and Mt. Tam) and attend our club meeting. I am pretty sure that we will see a few new SFAA members as a result of the Eclipse.