Eclipse Chaser's Journal, Part 6. The Iffy One:
Total Solar Eclipse of 8 April, 2024.
Journal and Images of the (Prevented) Expedition.

(A.K.A. The Eclipse Expedition that was PREVENTED by the Unreliability of Frontier Communications.)
(And,
the solar eclipse that was preceded by trying to rescue a friend from a very real HMO Death Panel.)

(Plus Photos of Solar Transits of Mercury and Venus from 2006, 2012, and 2019; huge prominences in 5/2024.)
(And Falcon 9, etc., launches of June and July 2024 from Vandenberg SFB, as seen from L.A.)

Jeffrey R. Charles

© Copyright 2018, 2020, 2023, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles. All Rights Reserved.
URL: http://www.eclipsechaser.com/eclink/image/total24.htm

LEFT: Maximum Eclipse from Los Angeles, CA. 8 April, 2024 (Visible Wavelengths).
RIGHT: Prominences of 8 April, 2024, imaged in Hydrogen Alpha through Coronado PST.
(Triangular prominence near bottom was visible naked eye to many in the path of totality.)
LEFT: Partial Solar Eclipse from Los Angeles. Maximum eclipse was only about 50 percent of the solar diameter, and far less in area. My trip to the path of totality was prevented by an extended outage of both Frontier phone and Internet service, at the critical time when I was trying to arrange a group trip. (I was unable to make the long drive by myself.)
RIGHT: Solar prominences of 8 April, 2024, imaged with Coronado PST 40mm aperture Hydrogen-Alpha telescope immediately after the end of the partial eclipse. The large triangular prominence was close to where the "diamond ring" effect occurred at third contact (the end of totality) for people near the center of the path of totality.
Comment: These images are oriented more or less according to celestial north, rather than the apparent orientation of the sun from Los Angeles. Why the moon appeared to move from southwest to northeast (in celestial coordinates), and not purely west to east, is covered in the "Partial Solar Eclipse Images" chapter, linked in the Table of Contents below.
Copyright 2018, 2020, 2023. 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.
Use of material herein subject to conditions in Versacorp Legal Information Page (www.versacorp.com/vlink/legal/legal.htm).
This web page is optimized for viewing on monitors as small as 800x600, and is "retro browser friendly" (HTML 2, for Netscape 2 or newer), to make it accessible to people throughout the world who may only have older computers.

Images (and Journal) of My (Prevented) 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Expedition.
(Plus Photos of Solar Transits of Mercury and Venus from 2006, 2012, and 2019)

Contents:

About THIS Version of J. Charles' 2024 Eclipse Images and Text Work(s): (Ver. 240409)
This material includes work(s) that may later be published in separate (shorter) works on media or online, etc.
* Most if not all of the introduction text (plus some other text) may later be moved to a separate (not yet started) "Eclipse Chaser's Journal" chapter or web page, as was text describing 4 of my other total solar eclipse expeditions.

Eclipse Chaser's Journal, Part 6 (with Photos):
The Iffy One: Total Solar Eclipse of 8 April, 2024

Introduction: Overcoming Three Years of Lost Time, Only to be Thwarted (by Frontier)

Shortly after the 2017 total solar eclipse, I began developing a set of eclipse instrumentation that incorporated lessons learned from the 2017 eclipse. I started early because I did not want to be in a position where some last minute events complicated or prevented a 2024 eclipse expedition.

Because I was (and am) disabled, I had to work slowly. Often, I only had few hours of stamina per week left over after my activities of daily living (ADL's) were out of the way. I also had to budget spending more than I had before, because I was entering "fixed income" territory as I aged. Even with these limitations, the 2024 eclipse setup was on track to be finished by mid to late 2021.

Thrust Into Being Power of Attorney (POA) for an Incapacitated Friend and Veteran:

However, in December 2020, an older friend (and Navy Veteran) became incapacitated. I was his designated Power of Attorney (POA) in the event he became incapacitated, and for the duration of any legally recognized state of incapacity. Seeing to his affairs became almost all I could handle for the next three years. This was mostly because I was disabled myself, and many of the parties involved were contentious. I also had never been in a situation where I had to manage everything for another person, so there was quite a learning curve.

My friend had assigned me as his POA because he had no surviving family. He had also said that he did not want anyone else (such as his other friends, who I thought he knew better than me) to do this for him. Before he became incapacitated, but after the "mostly peaceful" 2020 "Summer of Love" riots in Los Angeles, I looked into moving out of state.

During the previous Los Angeles riots of 1992, I had twice narrowly escaped being attacked on the way home from work. On one of these occasions, my car was struck by rocks thrown by rioters who ambushed an intersection in Altadena. After more riots in 2016, then again in 2020, I was DONE with Los Angeles! In the fall of 2020, I had asked my friend if there was anyone else I could hand off being POA to, but he said that he did not trust anyone else to be POA for him.

Even though the matter of being POA for a friend is not related to eclipses (beyond it preventing eclipse preparations for a few years), certain aspects are covered below. I had not expected to cover the weighty subject of being an advocate for a person in an eclipse journal, but it became relevant after it was not possible (by the slimmest of margins) to get to the path of totality in 2024.

More significantly, the POA situation is covered because it is more important than eclipses, and because it was eye opening to see the degree of opposition to my elderly friend - and thus, his need for advocacy. Many recurring life and death situations were encountered, including having to advocate for him against an HMO "Death Panel". Some don't believe that "death panels" even exist, so my actual encounters with a real death panel may be eye opening for many readers.

The upshot of this was that my time was not my own for the three years that followed December 2020, and it was extremely high stress in the final year. Among numerous other things (most of which were more important than eclipses), this delayed preparations for the 2024 eclipse by the same amount of time. But with much effort (given my condition), this time was made up in early 2024.

I strongly dislike drama, mostly because drama makes me tired. But plenty of it came my way from late 2020 through the first quarter of 2024, with a friend's life sometimes hanging in the balance.

It was a wild ride, with the first months and the final year being the most intense, so buckle up for an unanticipated adventure that may make even total solar eclipses seem boring by comparison.

Then, the 2024 Eclipse Expedition was Prevented by a LONG Internet AND Phone Outage:

With a great deal of effort in early 2024, it was possible to get back on track for getting to the 8 April 2024 total solar eclipse with the equipment that would enable my goals for imaging and experiments. (This had been on hold between late 2020 and early 2024, owing to the responsibility of being POA and advocate, etc., for my incapacitated elderly friend.) By mid March, it appeared that the eclipse equipment would ready in time, and I was working on a land based expedition to Texas.

However (spoiler alert), on the night of 18 March 2024 (only 3 weeks before the eclipse), a LONG outage of both Phone AND Internet by Frontier Communications (lasting well over a week) began. This prevented arranging group transportation by road. (I was then unable to drive any distance due to still being exhausted from managing the affairs of, and advocating for, my incapacitated friend; and my own chronic disability prevented negotiating an airport with so much equipment.)

Therefore, after all of the eclipse preparation over a number of years, it was not possible to get to the path of totality in 2024. Everything else was ready. The eclipse equipment had all been acquired, built, tweaked, tested, and packed. Practice runs had been successfully performed, and I had reservations at a Texas motel, plus arrangements for a good observing site (with a low horizon for imaging the boundary of the lunar umbra) that was within "walker distance" of the motel room.

The ONLY thing missing was a way to get there. And Frontier's long outage prevented connecting with people who WOULD CERTAINLY have been able to drive me there:

To get time off work in time for the eclipse, the driver, who also wanted to go to the eclipse with his mother, would have had to give his employer more notice than what was possible after the long Frontier outage. They did not want to travel that far alone, but would have made the trip with me. The Tracfone I had for the trip had an unfamiliar number to them. Inability to reach each other during the LONG Frontier outage was the ONLY reason the eclipse trip to Texas did not happen.

A couple of months after the eclipse (but before I could get set up with an alternative provider) Frontier had another long outage, also lasting well over a week. And as of mid summer 2024, the availability of either Frontier phone OR Internet was WORSE than 90 percent for the entire year. That is third world level service, yet they charge first world prices for this unreliable service.

Most Internet and phone companies promote how many "9's" are in their service reliability (For example, Spectrum advertizes 99.9 percent, while Frontier could not even make one "9". So Frontier's real world down time was over 100 times worse than that advertised by Spectrum.) The Frontier outages caused financial and other harm, including that related to their outage preventing transportation to the 2024 total solar eclipse, after having made a sizeable investment of time and funds in the related equipment, etc.

Even though Frontier's unreliable service effectively prevented getting to the path of totality in 2024, this web page includes photos and descriptions the full set of eclipse instrumentation that was painstakingly implemented for the 2024 total solar eclipse. It was comprised of 16 cameras and several lenses, telescopes, and instruments, including two Entaniya 250 degree HAL fisheye lenses, a multiple channel camera controller, an array of light meters (so the range of each meter could be set ahead of time), a meter scale illuminator, and a thermometer, etc.

Since 2024 Eclipse Instrumentation was Built, this Web Page Includes Photos/Descriptions.

All of the equipment had been designed, procured, built, and otherwise assembled to make the 2024 eclipse setup a reality. Because all of the work on the total eclipse setup had already been done (with the full expectation I would be able to get to the path of totality), the "Eclipse Instrumentation" chapter in this web page includes photos of the full setup, with descriptions.

Photos of Past Partial Solar Eclipses, and Transits of Mercury and Venus, are Also Included.

Since it was not possible to get to the path of totality in 2024, this web page currently includes photos of recent and previous astronomical events that should help make it more interesting. These include several previous partial solar eclipses (in Appendix D), and the solar transits of Mercury in 2006 and 2019, plus the transit of Venus in 2012 (in Appendix E; only a few photos up thus far).

Extremely Large (300-500,000 km Wide) Prominences of May 2024 are Pictured as Well.

Hydrogen-Alpha photos of very large prominences that were observed near the time of increased solar activity in May of 2024 are also included. The imaged prominences of May 2024 were many times larger than those visible during the 2024 eclipse. On 9 May, the largest prominence was over 300,000 km (close to 1/4 of a solar diameter) wide, and the largest prominence of 10 May was a loop that spanned nearly 500,000 km, or over a third of the sun's diameter! Scale renderings of the earth and moon were added to the latter prominence photo to show the relative size. (Appendix F.)

Photos of Rocket Launches from Vandenberg SFB (as seen from L.A.) Included near End.

Some of the SpaceX launches were imaged through a telescope, to better capture events such as the first stage boostback maneuver and the separation of fairings from the second stage. Other launches were imaged at wider angles. (These are shown in Appendix G.)

Meanwhile, back to the more important background story, in which the final nine months were a roller coaster ride of recurring HMO-imposed circumstances, where life and death literally hung in the balance on several occasions.


Background: A Myriad of New Things to Do as My Friend's POA, Starting in Late 2020:

In late 2020, the last time I had spoken by phone with my elderly friend was on about 11 December. Almost all contact with him was by phone because he lived nearly 70 miles away. On 18 December, I had restored and sold one of his telescopes for him, and was going to inform him of this on my next call. He had told me that I could have the telescope, but I knew his saying that was just his dementia talking. So I sold it for him, which is what had been discussed previously.

When I called him on about 21 December, 2020, I could not reach him. After some time being unable to reach him, I asked for a welfare check on him, but no status was provided that day or the next. I also continued to call his phone number, but to no avail. A couple of days later, I again called for a welfare check, but also did not hear back. However, when I called yet again on the day after Christmas, someone at the Fire Department remembered that my friend had been taken to a hospital. Further checking showed that this had happened on 16 December. It took a while to find out which hospital they had taken him to, then to find out where he was in that hospital.

He was in an HMO hospital that was in the general area (distant from me) around where he lived. By then, he was stable and in the hospital overflow area, but he could not be seen in person due to COVID precautions. They had begun to set up a conservatorship for him, but dropped that when they learned I was his POA.

The Social Worker there indicated that he was incapacitated, and that the hospital would only release him to a 24 hour care situation. She said his incapacity was almost certainly permanent. This meant that he could not go back to living in his condo.

I briefly spoke with him on the phone, and he sounded fine. However, he said he thought he was in a restaurant, rather than a hospital. They had fed him shortly before the call. As had been the case on other calls in recent months, he did not remember where I lived, and he seemed to forget my related answer within a few minutes.

As was the case for many elderly people in 2020, the California COVID lockdowns played a significant role in his becoming incapacitated. He had depended on restaurants for getting proper meals, and for much of his social life. When these closed during the 2020 lockdowns, he neither ate properly or had a normal social life.

Later investigation showed that he had declined somewhat rapidly in certain ways, starting in the spring of 2020. This had progressed throughout the summer, to a point where he was not refilling his prescriptions by late August. In fact, when it was possible (two months after his incapacity) to go to his condo, I saw that the August 2020 page was still open on the calendar in his dining area.

For years, I had been calling my friend every few weeks to talk with him and check up on him. Driving that far to see him had not been practical for a decade. Whenever I called, he did not sound much different than before, even while his situation was deteriorating throughout 2020.

He also never mentioned any of the circumstances (detailed below) that ultimately led to his 2020 hospitalization. He never mentioned these even later on. It was as though he had no memory of that time. I learned of these circumstances from his local friends and neighbors.

Starting Out with a Bad Case of COVID-19:

My friend's December 2020 hospitalization and incapacity began at a very bad time in regard to my ability to provide meaningful short term assistance. This is because I had been exposed to COVID at the grocery store on 15 December, and I began to develop mild symptoms by the 19th. These symptoms got worse, and I was ultimately quite ill from COVID for almost a month. I also had to get a heart monitor implant (ONLY a monitor, since I did NOT have arrhythmia) afterward.

I knew where I was exposed to COVID because I retained receipts and other information that I could use to retroactively contact trace myself. And I contacted the one person who had visited me (obviously while masked and distanced) between the time I was exposed and when I developed symptoms.

Earlier in 2020, I had kept a log of where I went in real time, and had also noted the distancing and masking status of people at each location. When possible, the few times I left home were spaced farther apart than the stated incubation period for COVID. This way, if I developed symptoms, I'd know that exposure could only have happened on the most recent trip. And the other notes could potentially help narrow down where the exposure occurred.

However, I stopped doing all of that after it became known that Governor Newsom and others had gathered indoors, with no masks or social distancing, at the French Laundry restaurant on 6 November.

But it wasn't just because the Governor did that. Also there were two high ranking members (including the CEO) of the California Medical Association. So the very people who were telling everyone not to travel or gather - had traveled to gather at a posh restaurant! This communicated that they obviously did not see the virus as a serious health risk, and that the related crisis was perhaps just being used to control the population.

After that, I only kept receipts from each trip, so I could reconstruct where I had been on the most recent outing if I later developed symptoms. However, I had incidentally remembered that I'd seen some unmasked children up to about 10 years of age at the grocery store, and some were running up and down the aisles. Some of these had walked or run right past me on the day I was exposed to COVID. But at the time, I think authorities were saying that kids could not spread the virus.

For me, having the 2020 version of COVID was bad. It was like having a bad case of the flu - four times in a row. After several days, I'd think it was getting better, but then wham! It took me down again the next day, but with different symptoms. My oxygen saturation also was not too good over some of that time. In order to comply with COVID guidelines of the day (which were based on a certain time after the last NEW symptom), I had to self-quarantine for what ended up being 32 days.

I was not tested during the weeks I had symptoms. I was way too sick to even get dressed on most days, so driving somewhere to get tested was out of the question. But there is no doubt that it was COVID because of how bad it was, and because the symptoms, including losing taste and smell (to the extent that I could not even taste or smell horseradish), were consistent with the disease. Taste and smell did not come back for months (some aspects took over a year), and even when these did come back, some things did not seem to taste or smell the way they used to. For example, Gerber prune-apple baby food tasted more like chocolate pudding than like prunes.

Ironically, the Los Angeles "COVID Curfew" contributed to my exposure to COVID. Because I had comorbidities, I had been careful (maybe too careful) throughout 2020, only leaving home for necessities such as groceries, and wearing a mask and gloves when in public. (This was not out of fear. Instead, it was out of respecting the virus in the same way one would respect a table saw: Live life, but take appropriate precautions, based on what is "known" at the time.)

Prior to 2020, I almost always went to the grocery store at night, when it was less crowded. But during the 2020 L.A. COVID Curfew, stores were not open at night. Thus, the curfew caused more people to be at the grocery store during the limited hours before the curfew, making it more crowded than it was before COVID! (How's that for a counterproductive government decision! Local COVID "rules" effectively turned the local grocery store into a virus distribution center!)

It was also more crowded than usual at the store because shortages in 2020 prevented buying very many items at once, so everyone had to go to the store more often than they did before.

I did not become eligible for the COVID vaccine until March, but published medical advice of the day indicated that a person should not get the vaccine until at least two months after having had COVID. And March was also a little late, being as I'd already had a bad case of COVID by then.

I had wanted to get the jab before I had COVID, but there wasn't much point afterward. I must have gotten some natural immunity from having the disease, because when I caught it again a year later, it was like only having a mild cold for a day and a half.

Over time, I found that various people I'd met or known over the years became very ill after getting the jab; one with a pulmonary embolism. Another even died shortly afterward. Back in the 1970's, I had become very ill for over a year after I got the swine flu vaccine, which was soon withdrawn from the market. I wondered why the COVID vaccine remained on the market in spite of what seemed to be even more wide spread reactions than those to the 1970's swine flu vaccine.

Beginning to Manage My Friend's Affairs to the Extent Possible During Self-Quarantine:

Even though I was sick with COVID in December 2020 and well into January 2021, and had to self-quarantine through most of January 2021, many things still needed to be done for my friend. Everything had to be initiated by phone, Fax, or e-mail, due to my quarantine situation. I was reluctant to send out postal mail, since some still said the virus could be transmitted that way.

What had to be done initially included providing my friend's POA, etc., documents and any other information necessary to be recognized as his POA by multiple institutions, utilities, etc., and to get POA access to his funds at his bank so I could pay his bills, etc. The latter was extremely important, because the hospital said it would not discharge him until his 24-hour care could be paid for entirely from his own funds. And he only had significant funds at one bank.

In addition to this, I had to determine what type of 24 hour care was a good fit for him, then find a suitable care facility for him. A board and care home (which has very few residents in comparison to a nursing home) seemed like the best option for him. Even with the assistance of a Placement Coordinator, finding a suitable place for him took days of work, since my days are short owing to my own disability.

Fortunately, when the right 24-hour care home was found, it was almost a perfect fit for him. He liked to walk outdoors, and very few board and care homes had space to accommodate this, but this one did. There were also other features that made that home the best one for him. The selected home also was not too far from where he used to live (but it was over 60 miles from me), so that his local friends could visit him there - whenever the COVID rules let up enough that they could.

There was also the matter of looking into his VA benefits, but I was told that he did not qualify for assistance in housing or care, because his time in the Navy had not been during either the Korean or Vietnam wars. Then there were also the matters of his bills, his reverse mortgage, his previously scheduled medical appointments, informing his other friends, terminating services such as his satellite TV, and numerous other things.

What follows describes only a fraction of the major challenges associated with being his POA, MPOA, and Successor Trustee, etc. Challenges that would not have existed if numerous parties had not been contentious. I got the impression that some of these parties may have thought that elderly people should not have any rights. (They certainly acted like they felt that way.)


Uncooperative Parties: (Bank won't honor his documents, HMO later wants to end him.)

Being POA for my friend was severely complicated by his bank (Bank of America), reverse mortgage company, credit card company (Synchrony), wireless and land line phone company, and his HMO, all being uncooperative on a long term basis.

Difficulties with his credit card company and phone company were initiated by his bank's refusal to timely honor his POA documents, and this was the direct cause of many of his bills becoming delinquent before his funds at his bank could be accessed to pay his bills.

Synchrony was so hard to deal with on his behalf that I also canceled my own Synchrony card. (I would not want my POA to have to deal with them if I later became incapacitated myself.) When I called them, I was always connected to people in Asia, and they contradicted themselves, did not accept payments for months, and would not connect me to anyone in the USA.

There also seemed to be two Asian call centers, and a rivalry between them. If I was connected to one, some there would claim or imply that the other one was fraudulent, and say that I should not fax any documents there, but should instead use a fax number the second center gave me. Then the first call center would say the same about the second one and specify a different fax number, etc.

His wireless phone company was a problem because calls to them were also always routed to Asia, and people there would not solve the problem or connect me to anyone in the USA who could. The main issue was that, once his bank belatedly allowed access to one of his accounts, I wanted to cancel his service and pay his (then past due) bill - but only up to the date that they stopped providing service. However, their people in Asia would not allow that. If the bill was paid, they were going to retroactively restore service, then ALSO bill him for all of the time after his service had been cut off. This was unacceptable, so after more than half a dozen time consuming attempts to solve the problem over as many different weeks, I filed a complaint with the PUC.

In the meantime, the only way I could keep the wireless phone company from retroactively charging him for the months he had no service was not to pay his phone bill! A while after the complaint was filed, a Vice President of the wireless company called and quickly solved the problem.

It seemed that many problems were needlessly prolonged (and had to be escalated to management via complaints) when companies used foreign services that refused to connect customers to people in the USA who would even try to solve problems. This was also an aspect of why Frontier's dual phone and Internet outage of 2024 lasted so long that it prevented getting to the path of totality, as will be covered later.

My friend's neighbor had paid some of his late 2020 and early 2021 bills before I was able to access his bank funds or come to his condo (the latter being due to my quarantine and lingering weakness from Long COVID). However, it was not practical for either of us to continue paying his bills (with our own funds) after long delays by his bank dragged on for weeks, and then months. (Why anyone would use the bank he used is beyond me. They caused a lot of stress and hardship.)


A Bank that Back Dates Notarized Documents & Does Not Fully/Timely Honor POA Doc's:

My friend's bank was the first big problem, because the hospital would not discharge him until I could arrange to pay for his mandated 24-hour care with HIS funds. His bank was made fully aware of this from the beginning. But his bank held up access to even one of his accounts for TWO MONTHS, and I had to file complaints and threaten legal action before even that happened.

The bank held up access to my friend's funds for months by refusing to honor his POA documents (which had been drafted by his attorney, and were therefore obviously in order), even after many contacts with them by phone and in person.

When the bank was not outright refusing to honor my friend's documents, they were contradicting themselves and making excuses. I eventually filed complaints against his bank during the months long delay, including with the CFPB. But the CFPB proved to just be a paper tiger.

Many encounters with the bank exceeded half an hour. If the banker I was stuck with most of the time made nonsensical excuses, I called him out on it and got back to arguing my case. I also went to different bank branches to see if their workers would act differently, and they usually didn't. Jerking customers around, imposing new vexatious conditions, and making contradictory excuses seemed to be ingrained into my friend's bank. The only exception was on one occasion when bank employees were tied up, and a worker in an associated investment firm tried to help.

As the bank delays continued, I had to keep checking to see if there was still avalability at the board and care home I'd selected, and looking for a backup in the event the board and care slot evaporated. This, and many other things related to the bank delay, radically increased the stress and work load.

Egregiously, when my friend's bank did belatedly, but only partially, honor his POA documents (for only ONE of his accounts) they BACK DATED the NOTARIZED documents that were associated with the signature card (this can be proven), including back dating the notary log book. They did this even after I noticed it and questioned them about it. (They even wrote in a false date for my signature. The dates by my signatures are not in my handwriting.)

And even worse: After this, the bank represented the BACK DATED date as being the actual date to the CFPB, to dispose of my complaint against them.

Solely because of his bank, my friend was not discharged from hospital overflow to 24 hour care until the end of March, 2021. He had been in the hospital overflow for about 100 days, with the last 60 days of this time being solely because of his bank!

And the bank had caused many more rough spots along he way. Just one of many examples is that the bank (especially the banker who back dated the documents, and the acting branch manager) at times told my friend's regular HMO hospital social worker something completely different than what they told me. (And the fact that the bank manager would be talking to the hospital at all seemed strange.) In fact, when what the bank told me was combined with what the social worker said the bank had told her, it revealed that the bank had contradicted itself about ten times on matters of consequence.

The bank never provided statements for my friend's accounts, though they did later provide a way to check his balances (including for the account I still had no access to) by phone or online.

When I logged on for the first time, I found that my friend had last accessed his online banking on the evening of 15 December, 2020. That was the evening immediately before he had been taken to the hospital. Whatever the last straw that caused him to be hospitalized was, it was sudden.

HMO Hospital Discharges My Friend Before His Funds Become Accessible:

When the bank belatedly executed (but back dated) notarized documents for one of my friend's accounts in the middle of the week in late March, one signature field was missed. After I reviewed the documents and discovered this the next day, I called the bank to tell them about it, and (even though I was very tired and stressed) I offered to come in that day and sign that part of the form.

The banker said not to come in unless the bank's legal department had a problem with the paperwork. Based on how things had gone with the bank thus far, it was probably a foregone conclusion that they would. And sure enough, the bank called and asked me to come in on Friday afternoon and provide that last signature.

Even though this last signature completed the paperwork (for one account), the bank said that I would not be able to access any funds until the following Monday.

Therefore, since my friend's funds would not be accessible to pay for his care until Monday, my friend's regular HMO hospital social worker said that Monday would be his discharge date from the hospital.

I was extremely tired after the week's events, and had looked forward to getting some rest over a weekend, probably for the first time since January.

However, only about two hours after I got back home from the bank (early Friday evening), a different social worker at the HMO hospital called and said that I had to show up at the hospital (70 miles away) by the next day, so they could discharge my friend to me.

Discharging a patient who requires 24 hour care to an individual who cannot provide 24 hour care (and before a written agreement even exists with a 24 hour care facility), is NOT how it is done.

Because of this, and because I could not make the long drive the next day, or in daylight at all (due to both fatigue and recently increased sunlight sensitivity that began while in the outdoor line at my friend's bank), I refused this social worker's (ridiculous) demands regarding this.

I also reminded this new social worker that my friends's funds would not be accessible until Monday, and based on prior discussions with the hospital, access to his funds was required (by the hospital) before he could be discharged from there. (This was per the hospital's own words). Access to his funds was also required to make the initial payment when entering into a contract with the board and care home that would provide 24 hour care.

The worker responded by saying that the hospital would cover my friend's time in the care home prior to Monday. But that alone would not solve all of the problems associated with a rushed Saturday discharge. For one thing, it was obvious that no one at the hospital seemed to know what prescriptions my friend needed, or how to fill them in time to discharge him the next day.

The next day, the hospital prepared to discharge my friend over my objection. And they would not cover the cost of medical transport to the board and care home, so (because his bank was not allowing POA access to his funds until Monday) I had to pay that transport with my own personal credit card. (That is NOT how it is supposed to work either.) Based on this nonsense, I suspected that the hospital would go back on their word in regard to paying for my friend's time at the board and care home prior to Monday, and this suspicion proved to be correct.

To make matters worse, as my friend was being readied for pickup from the hospital, the hospital called ME, to see if I knew what my friend's prescriptions were!

I obviously did not know this, because the hospital was the party administering his prescriptions, and people there had said they didn't know what med's he was on when I'd previously asked them what medicine he was being given while there. I told the hospital that they needed to get their act together on his prescriptions before I would confirm the medical transport for him.

A little later, they claimed that they had his prescription list in order, but they still did not have a plan to get his prescriptions filled. They were trying to put that on the Board and Care home manager: The manager of a care home for which no contract had yet been executed.

Later in the day, my friend was discharged to the Board and Care home, even though I could not get there to sign the contract and other paperwork (or make any payments to them from his funds) until early the next week. The board and care home and the placement coordinator said that the home would temporarily cover the few days prior to when my friend's funds became accessible.

Because the hospital had discharged my friend BEFORE his funds became accessible, I wondered if the hospital's whole spiel about how my friend could NOT be discharged before his own funds could be used to pay for his 24 hour care - was just a ploy to milk Medicare by keeping him in their hospital overflow for months. (And at a time when hospital space was scarce due to COVID!)

It turned out that the HMO hospital also made a cluster... out of my friend's prescriptions. Specifically, not long after my friend was discharged, he fell at the board and care home and became non-responsive. He then had to be rushed to the ER at the hospital.

The reason was found to be that his blood pressure had quickly gone dangerously low. And that this had been caused by the HMO hospital getting his prescriptions wrong in their rushed short notice weekend discharge. Specifically, they had given him too many concurrent blood pressure prescriptions. (Four, to be exact.) And so, in their rush, the hospital had made a prescription error that endangered my friend. After he was stabilized, he was sent back to the care home.

The weekend's stressful events made it impossible for me to drive to the board and care home on Monday, so I went after sunset on Tuesday, in order to partially recover, and to avoid sunlight.

The board and care home proved to be the one place where people were affable. I had thought that they might be this way in person after previous phone conversations with them. Finally, a party related to my friend's affairs that was not contentious! My arrival there on Tuesday was after the usual (early) resident bed time, so I did not speak with my friend that evening.

After completing the board and care home paperwork and making the initial payment, I went to my friend's condo (for only the second time up to that point) to size up how much work would be involved. It was going to be a lot of work.

I also wanted to check the balance of my friend's accounts by phone or online, but found that his phone (to which the bank would send an access code) had been disconnected because the bill could not be paid while the bank was refusing access to his funds.

Fortunately, I had brought my own flip phone on the trip. This did not help with the bank, but it did provide a way to reach people while I was at my friend's condo. I tried to get my own phone number put on the bank's contact list. They eventually accommodated this, but it took weeks.

There was a lot of work in store, but before I could make the next trip to my friend's condo, there was more to come from the HMO hospital:

The HMO hospital had further blown it in regard to my friend's discharge instructions. I had discussed things that needed to be on those instructions with both hospital social workers (as these were the designated contacts at the hospital), and the social worker who was rushing the discharge assured me that she would see to it that those points were noted in the instructions.

One of these points was that, on at least some days, my friend could be resourceful enough to escape 24 hour care if precautions were not taken, then he could potentially become lost. His incapacity did not necessarily prevent his ability to plan, or to have initiative.

But the hospital failied to note ANY of this on the discharge instructions. In fact, it appeared that the hospital may have even neglected to indicate the basic fact that my friend was incapacitated.

After this, even though I had told the board and care home that my friend had been deemed incapacitated on the one hand, but that he could escape if precautions were not taken on the other, the latter was not taken seriously because it was not even mentioned in the hospital discharge instructions. Then:

About two weeks later, my friend escaped from the board and care home through a window.

The care home called the authorities, then called me to let me know. I told the board and care home manager where I thought he might try to go, and what street names in that area could be confused with streets in the area around his condo.

I then called a person at my friend's condo complex who knew him, and asked her to be on the lookout for him. But she did not believe that he could make the nearly 15 miles to his condo, and blew off my suggestion that he could. I wasn't sure if he would try to go there, or to a place where he had lived before that, but it was my best guess.

Two hours later, someone noticed activity at my friend's condo and called the police. When the police arrived, it was found that my friend had entered his condo, apparently using a key that he kept in a hidden area he'd cut into his wallet long ago.

My first thought was "Good for him!", but I was also concerned about the risk he had been exposed to. He came outside when the authorities arrived, and his neighbor (the one I had called earlier) gave me a "play by play" account over the phone about what was happening.

Even though my friend had made it almost 15 miles to his condo in only two hours, he had no idea how he had gotten there, and he could not remember much if anything from earlier in the day.

Someone among the authorities that had arrived there performed cognitive tests on him, and determined that he could not remain at his condo, then they prepared to take him back to the board and care home. He was very pleasant and passive while this was happening. One thing he politely asked was: "Are all of these people here for me?" He had executive planning on at least that day, but apparently no memory of what he did.

I was somewhat surprised at how easy it was for authorities to remove him from the yard by his condo. But on the other hand, it appeared that he may not have even asked if he could stay there.

Since my friend had made it to his condo, I was mildly on the side of letting him stay there for at least a trial period if he wanted to. More importantly, by suggesting that my friend stay in his condo, it would make the hospital and its social workers have to "put up or shut up" concerning his incapacity. (A necessary step, given their sheer negligence on his discharge instructions.)

In reality, there was no way for him to stay there after three doctors had declared him incapacitated in writing (even if the hospital had apparently failed to communicate this). But suggesting that he be allowed to stay would at least force the hospital to communicate at least the basics of what it had neglected to include in his discharge instructions.

Using the occasion to force the hospital's hand appeared to eventually lead to their informing the authorities of my friend's incapacity that day. (My simply saying by phone that doctors had deemed him incapacitated would be little more than hearsay in the absence of accessible documentation, and I was over 60 miles away.)

And since the hospital had apparently failed to adequately indicate that my friend was incapacitated in their discharge instructions, the care home may have had little on hand to document that he was incapacitated either. (Unless they dug into any records the hospital provided to see if they included the letters of incapacity from doctors there.)

Things later came to light which indicated that my friend staying at his condo (especially alone) probably would not have been a good idea:

I later learned that, prior to the time my friend was hospitalized in late 2020 (and then declared incapacitated by doctors at the hospital), he had wandered from home and become lost on several occasions. On one occasion, a local person had found him miles from his condo, and asked where he was going. He initially mentioned a place 40 miles away, where he had lived over 20 years earlier. But after further questioning, he had indicated his then current address.

On several other occasions, he had driven somewhere, walked home, then wondered where his car was. Most of the time, he'd driven to a restaurant, only to find it closed due to COVID restrictions. Then, he'd leave his car in the restaurant parking lot and walk home. Afterward, he often did not recall that he'd gone anywhere. At other times, he remembered having been way from home, but not where he had been. When this happened, local friends or neighbors would drive him around to look for his car. Partly for this reason, his neighbors did not want to see him back in his condo.

Also, less than a month before he was hospitalized in late 2020, he had been pulled over by the police and given a reexamination hearing notice. And he missed his related hearing because restrictions imposed by his ticket (and a neighbor unilaterally snatching his car keys when he got in his car to drive anyway) prevented him from driving there. This in turn ultimately resulted in suspension of his license by about a week before he was hospitalized. It does not appear that he thought of options such as taking a taxi or Uber, etc. And if he had, he may have recoiled at the cost of these options.

To compound his problem, in the week prior to the early December 2020 suspension, one of his neighbors had snatched his second set of car keys from him when was about to drive somewhere. Since this happened twice, he had no car keys left. But the same neighbor would not shoulder the responsibility (that one would think should be obligatory in such a situation) of giving him a ride to where he wanted to go, or at least of arranging rides for him.

All of this had in turn prevented him from even going to the store to get groceries, and lack of proper food had in turn contributed to his falling and becoming non-responsive at his condo (at least partly due to extremely low blood sugar), then being hospitalized on 16 December, 2020.

My friend had not told me that he was having any of these problems when I'd called him even in November and early December of 2020. And my knowing about that at the time (i.e. before he was hospitalized, and before I got COVID in mid December) may have made a difference for him. However, since I was not functionally his POA until he was later declared incapacitated while hospitalized, all I could have done was make suggestions and try to arrange local options for him.

I could not help but wonder if he might have remained independent for a little longer if the driver license (and key snatching) issue had not caused him to nearly run out of edible food at his condo. Perhaps then, he might have avoided the December 2020 hospitalization. But without his license to enable getting groceries, or anyone local to get groceries for him (or to set up an online food ordering and delivery option for him), it would have only been a matter of time.

At the end of April 2021, I made the long trip out my friend's condo again, but met him at his doctor appointment right after I arrived. I was not familiar with how to get to his doctor's office, but one of his neighbors was, and she had previously and kindly offered to take me from my friend's condo to his doctor appointment.

Even though I had not spoken with my friend in person for 10 years, and even though I had let my hair and beard grow long, he recognized me at the doctor office.

A Bank that Harms its Customers:

The prolonged actions of my friend's bank complicated his other affairs, and caused two month delays in his cancer surgeries,. That appears to have played a role in his ultimate demise, nearly three years later.

During the bank's initial two month delay, the bank had repeatedly been made aware of his urgent situation, but they didn't care. (So, far from being useful, his bank may have irreparably harmed him. They certainly harmed me in terms of health, but I won't go into that here.)

Also, my friend's bank still had not allowed POA access to his savings even by the summer of 2021 (over five months after my initial contact with them), even though the bank had told the CFPB (a.k.a. the paper tiger) that they would timely allow POA access to all of his funds.

Because of this, my friend's condo had to be sold for him FOUR MONTHS sooner than would have otherwise been necessary, in order to pay his bills. This needlessly rushed the process and radically increased the work load. It also led to a debilitating back injury that otherwise would not have happened.

My friend's condo had to eventually be sold for him because he'd long had a reverse mortgage, and he could not live there while getting 24-hour care. But the sale date required by this circumstance was a year after he ceased to live there for medical reasons; or at least four months later.

In their 2021 response to the CFPB, the bank had said that it would timely cooperate on providing access to my friend's other account. But as of when this was written, three years later, and after over 20 to 30 contacts with them, they never did honor his POA documents for his other account.

Over time, I obviously had to emphasize contact with "results oriented" organizations rather than "excuse oriented" ones like his bank, or nothing would get done. Some at his bank also imposed vexatious processes and seemed to just like jerking people around. I even heard one of them mock a customer. Very unprofessional.

As of when this was written in 2024, it was obvious that official channels and conventional complaints were not going to get his bank to cooperate. And numerous contacts with the bank (both in person and by phone) had not helped either. So immortalizing what the bank did (to both of us thus far) on this web page was and is a last resort.

There are no plans to make this record disappear if that bank later cooperates. I lost numerous hours and days to that bank, and as will be seen below, repercussions of the bank's initial two month delay may have caused irreparable harm to my friend. Other vulnerable people who could be similarly be impacted by a bank may benefit from this cautionary tale.

A complaint to a different agency against the bank, for back dating notarized documents (which is perjury according to wording on the documents), is still open.

Stuck Here During Bank's Refusal/Delay to Fully Honor My Friend's POA Documents:

During the years-long debacle with my friend's bank, I had wanted to move out of state. This was partly so I could spell my brother in taking care of my Dad, and partly so I could acquire a house out of state before home prices in the few areas of interest went through the roof. Even if I could not move for a while, I wanted to acquire a house in an area I wanted to relocate to before prices there went way up.

However, I could not even temporarily leave the state as long as my friend's bank was needlessly and severely complicating his affairs. And repeatedly dealing with his contentious bank also used up a lot of time, while accomplishing nothing. It was stressful, and like being stuck in molasses.

For those familiar with the artistic eight minute prelude to the 2011 movie "Melancholia", a couple of scenes in it capture what it felt like to be stuck here because of my friend's bank. Both scenes are in slow motion. In the first scene, about 2.5 minutes in, a woman is trying to run across a grassy area while carrying a child, but her legs keep sinking into the ground up to knee level, preventing any headway. In the other scene, starting just before the 5 minute mark, a woman in a wedding gown is trying to run, but is held back by a web of black ropes and roots. That's what the bank problem felt like. (I am not a fan of the full movie, but the 8-minute prelude is interesting.)

(Comment: When I mention films that circumstances remind me of in this web page, it is usually so readers can infer more specifics than what would be practical to explain through writing alone.)

And during the first year I was stuck here because of my friend's bank, home prices in the few areas I was interested in did indeed go through the roof, just as I expected they would. In fact, in early 2021, I missed out on getting a nice 3-bedroom house that was in good condition, on a full one acre lot, and in an area I was interested in, for $220k - solely because of my friend's bank.

Because I could not leave here to view and buy that particular house during the months it was on the conventional market, it ultimately went into foreclosure and was sold at auction (for a LOT less than I was going to pay for it). It was bought by a company that hoards and rents out houses. Circumstances of the auction were not made available until it was too late to send an authorized proxy to bid in person (the only way a bid was allowed).

Also, getting permission for a proxy to see the current condition of the house (after foreclosure but before the auction) was too convoluted: The party managing access said I had to locate and contact the previous owner to get permission for anyone to enter. (Afterward, it appeared that the party managing that aspect may have been potential bidder!) Home prices in that area later nearly doubled.

So my friend's bank effectively harmed two parties in this real estate matter alone: Myself, and the original seller of that house. When the house was on the conventional market, it was not even as a short sale. Therefore, foreclosure on its owner could have been avoided if my friend's bank had not effectively prevented me from leaving here to purchase that house while it was still listed for sale.

And that house was also in a good area for amateur astronomy, with Bortle 4a skies (magnitude 21.6 per square arc second), while also being within half a mile of town. Just before I got COVID, I had also been in touch with the town about whether or not a specific observatory structure would be allowed in the back yard of that house per the local code, and it would have been allowed.

Blowing Out the L4-L5 Disk in My Back:

Because of circumstances imposed by my friend's bank, my friend's condo had to be sold for him at least four months sooner than otherwise would have been necessary. This needlessly rushed the process, and was another reason why I could not even temporarily leave the state.

And in my condition, it was profoundly difficult to prepare my friend's condo for sale soon enough to use the proceeds for the cost of his care and his other bills. Most work was related to sorting and removing his stuff, but considerable work and coordination also went toward the property itself.

Obviously, a different bank was used for funds from the sale of my friend's condo! Specifically, for funds remaining after paying off his reverse mortgage when his condo was sold for him in August of 2021. Using a different bank made those funds accessible to pay for his care.

If my friend's bank had fully honored his POA documents and allowed POA access to his savings even by June of 2021 (five months after the process was started with his bank), his condo could have been sold months later. Then there would have been no imposed rush. And by that time, the market also would have allowed it to sell for more.

Also, regarding his bank: In February and March of 2021, the light sensitivity aspect of my condition was exacerbated by his bank requiring people to wait in line outside of the building (in sunlight) for up to 45 minutes at a time. The bank had closed many of its branches, so the few branches that remained open had to service many times the usual number of customers.

This concentration of customers at the bank also caused their handicapped parking to be woefully inadequate, and there were times when it took me more than 5 (tiring) minutes to make it up the slope from the nearest available parking space (using a rollator walker with a seat on it) to the line at the bank entrance. (They only had ONE handicapped parking space in the whole parking lot, and maybe half a dozen spaces in total that did not require walking up a long, steep incline that appeared to gain at least 15 feet of elevation. And those closer spaces were usually occupied. Clearly not acceptable for people with disabilities.) This caused me to be tired before meeting with a banker, and it also increased my exposure to sunlight there.

Once I was burned by excess sunlight exposure (for my condition) at this bank, I could not be exposed to sunlight more than a few minutes a day (and not much more than that in a week) over the next several months without being further burned or blistered. The bank was the only place where I got sunburned. This bank was the only place that did not accommodate my disability.

Because of the newly increased light sensitivity, I had to drive out to my friend's condo at night (a 1.5 plus hour drive), black out the windows, then stay there several days at a time (on each trip) to go through and clean his stuff, prepare his condo for sale, and list it for sale with a realtor, etc. Fortunately, the realtor helped finish preparing the condo for sale and dealt with most of the furniture.

While working at my friend's condo (which was in a different county), I found that people around there were not as freaked out about the virus as people in my home county. The related rules did not seem to be as strict either. That was a nice change.

My friend's stuff was not very organized. And for some reason: In the kitchen, closets, bathrooms, and two rooms with the most stuff in them, the stuff was unusually grimy. Most of it was coated in a sticky, smelly, film that nearly blackened whatever touched it. He did not smoke, so I didn't know if the grime was from gas appliances in his condo, failure to keep things clean, or both.

But the result was that anything brought to my place for repair, thorough cleaning, further sorting, or storage; or that was brought to him at the care home, or that was donated, had to be cleaned to some extent first. Otherwise, the stuff would spread the grime and odor. The odor was obvious, even though my sense of smell was still reduced from having had COVID several months earlier.

There was also something unusual about the way things were in his condo. By the amount of dust in different areas, it became obvious that some areas had not been disturbed in months or even years. The RC airplanes in his second bedroom had not been used in over a decade, and the telescopes and tripods in the center of the room appeared to have at least a year of dust on them.

His dining room table (and numerous items on it) had accumulated more dust than that, even though it was obvious (from wear and damage on the finish) that it was once heavily used. It was as though he just stopped doing anything at his dining room table one day, then left everything he was using that day out on the table for all of the years since then.

The way that all of this seemed out of character for my friend, and the way some aspects seemed to show a progression over time, reminded me of the short film "Creswick", except that there was no dark entity as in the film. For any who want to see the 9-minute Creswick film, a "cut and paste" URL for it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeSQA5nSaek (180518,Omeleto) 9:35

The air conditioning at his place was not working at that time, so I bought a portable room air conditioner to use until his air conditioning could be serviced. (There was a backlog on local air conditioning service that summer, so his A/C could not be serviced for some time.)

Because only one room of my friend's condo was cooled during that time (and highs that summer were mid 90's to over 100 degrees F.), everything had to incrementally be brought into, then out of, the one cooled room for cleaning and sorting. It took a long time.

The cooled room was also where I slept while there. I sometimes stayed for over a week at a time, due to how much work needed to be done in comparison to my condition. Because of the grime, heat, mess, and how much work had to be done, it was not a very pleasant place to be. The garage was the worst area, since it was even more grimy, and it never had any air conditioning.

His stuff had to be gone through piece by piece to find and clean important items and locate a few missing documents. Due to the need to clean things on site before removing them, plus fatigue, and mostly because of the bank-imposed rush, there was no time to have an estate sale on site.

A few exceptions to this were that his car, workbench, and larger machine tools, as well as almost all of his R/C airplanes (which he had not used in over 10 years) were sold on site. The R/C planes took up over half a bedroom, and had to be removed to open up some swap space to stage his other items for sorting and cleaning, as well as organizing what had been cleaned and sorted.

Once the R/C planes, car, and large tools were out of the way, things went faster. This is because his place finally was no longer like a sliding number puzzle, where several items had to be moved to access other items.

I also wanted to be sure I found and retained items that he might want to keep or use at the board and care home, and separate out items that could later be sold for enough to pay for his incidental expenses, in the event his funds became exhausted on his care and he went on State assistance.

In addition to sorting, etc., I photographed his condo as it was, then again after it was cleaned up. I also photographed his stuff, usually arraying items on the floor or a table to photograph it, whether it was retained or not. This was just in case he'd care to see pictures of it.

But to the extent that his memory allowed, my friend was then more interested in people or events from his past than in things. Therefore, beyond asking if he wanted certain items brought to him at the care home, there never was a time when discussing his condo or his stuff (or looking at pictures of either) became relevant. He hardly ever brought these up in conversations with me.

For example, my friend often asked me where I lived when I called him, and he usually seemed surprised that I was in the Sunland-Tujunga area. (I lived in Pasadena back when we worked together in the 1990's, and had not moved until after he retired.) When he heard me mention Sunland, he sometimes spoke of going to "Pop's Willow Lake" with his dad back in the day, and that his dad let him row a small boat while they were there and out on the lake.

I am not sure where Pop's Willow Lake used to be, but most references seem to indicate that it had been where modern day Orcas Park (just south of Lake View Terrace) is, or perhaps partially under the present day alignment of the 210 freeway, immediately north of the park.

Getting back to my friend's condo and his stuff: Ultimately, his furniture was sold or otherwise disposed of by a third party, hopelessly broken items were thrown out (or recycled when necessary). Large items, plus a considerable amount of clothing from a deceased relative, were donated to local charities. The best of his own clothes and certain other items were washed and brought to the care home for his use.

Smaller items and books of possible sentimental value to him, or that he might use at the home, were brought to my place for cleaning, and storage (or repair when needed), until I could bring them to the care home. Several boxes of smaller items that had not yet been sorted were also brought to my place, to sort (and further clean) there.

It turned out that he did not want much more of his stuff. However, when he was in the hospital two years later, he seemed to like it when I read to him from his books about the ship he served on in the Navy. (Those books were the last thing he had read before he was hospitalized in late 2020.)

In all, about 10 boxes of his stuff were brought to him at the board and care home. Over half of this was clothing. I did not bring his Navy books or high value items there because they sometimes lost track of things. I instead made copies of highlights from the books and put valuable stuff in a box to take there with me so he could see it. I was going to photograph every page in the books put them on his iPad tablet, but I did not end up doing that because he did not seem up to using a tablet. Unfortunately, visiting him was not possible for some time due to the Vaccine Mandate.

Over 30 boxes of his stuff were brought to my place in July and August of 2021. In terms of volume, this may have been less than a 15 percent of the non-furniture items that were in his place, so he obviously had a lot of stuff. The remainder was donated to local thrift stores, sold on site, or (in the case of decades-old bills, reams of old HOA mailings, and hopelessly broken items, etc.) thrown out or recycled. But I retained HOA communications that were specific to his condo. I also found and preserved his photos, some of which were found mixed in with other things, including stuff in his garage.

I paid him market value (usually based on eBay prices) for the limited number of items I thought I might use myself, in the hope that the funds could help extend his time in the good board and care home. In a few cases, I bought broken or beat up items that would otherwise be given away or thrown out (such as his beat up dining room table), just so he could get some money out of them. The beat up table also provided a place to further sort some of his stuff at my place.

Some of the items to be stored, tested, repaired, or further cleaned were heavy enough that even a 15x12x10 inch file box full of them was excessively heavy. Therefore, these heavy items were moved separately, then put back into their respective boxes at my place, so as not to lift the whole box full of stuff at once and strain my torn rotator cuff, etc.

Even though I had been careful not to lift anything too heavy, the sheer number of lifting operations was apparently too much. While handling the next to last load of his stuff, my back suddenly gave out. An MRI showed that the L4-L5 disk in my back had blown out, and it was pinching a nerve.

The blown out disk was very debilitating for the next eight months. I needed to have someone else do almost all of the lifting for the last load of my friend's stuff (trading some of his automotive CB radios for the labor), and I could not do much at all for months after that. I could not even visit my friend or start to sort the rest of his stuff during that time.

Surgical level lower back pain made it take 10 to 15 agonizing minutes to just get up and transition to standing at the beginning of each day (on the days I could stand up at all), and it was almost as bad each time I got up after laying down to rest during the day.

When I was able to get up during those months, I had to use a 4-wheel walker all the time. A cane, or even two canes, usually wasn't enough. My right leg also became weak from the pinched nerve, and the lost strength was not significantly recovered for years.

The blown out L4-L5 disk is the main reason I still have such a low medical (and real world) lifting limit. All ultimately because a bank would not fully honor my friend's POA documents!


An HMO where Patients Experience a "Natural Dying Process", Even if They Want to Live:

His HMO was also a problem, especially in 2023. It took them a year and a half to even provide his medical records. And when these were provided, all information about his most recent two hospitalizations (and his related rehab stay) were missing. His name and some specifics obviously are not mentioned here, both for his privacy and due to HIPAA.

Precursors:

Previously, up through late 2022: Due to delays caused SOLELY by my friend's BANK, his skin cancer got worse throughout early 2021. Medical appointments could not be made for him while the bank situation (and thus, his discharge date from hospital overflow) was unresolved.

After that, there was nearly another two to three month backlog in appointments at his HMO. But his doctor was able to pull some strings and arrange an appointment a month sooner than what I had been able to come up with (June vs July 2021).

Playing "Catch Up" with My Friend's Cancer, Because of His Bank:

From then on, it was a matter of playing catch up on his skin cancer. One facial lesion went from dime size to almost silver dollar size during a period of time equal to the bank's delay. Another went from smaller than a dime to the size of a quarter. And that was just what was on the surface.

After this, every cancer surgery on his face had to be more invasive than it would have been if it could have been done two months earlier (without the bank-imposed delay). And, there had to be more total surgery appointments, because the more invasive surgeries could not be grouped together as much as the lesser surgeries could have been without the bank delay. One of the facial surgeries was even disfiguring to an extent.

In October of 2022, one of his facial incisions was not healing, and it ultimately became infected. This was from a cancer surgery that probably would not have been done as late, or have been as invasive, if his bank had not imposed a two month delay over a year and a half earlier.

HMO Sent Him Home Twice, Apparently without Adequate Treatment:

He was taken to his HMO ER twice for the incision problem, but he was sent home twice without anything significant being done about it. But then, only four hours after he was sent home the second time, a hospital case manager called and said that two tests had just come back, and both showed that he had considerable bacteria in his blood (sepsis).

She said he had to be brought back to the hospital on an emergency basis. However, she said the HMO would not do anything about arranging transport, so there was no choice (with my being 70 miles away) but to call 911, and get transferred to where I could arrange an ambulance for him.

A Contentious HMO Case Manager in Late 2022:

I had the distinct impression that the case manager had sent him home too early, and that she would not help arrange transport to obscure that. This impression was reinforced by her attempts to discharge him too early on two subsequent occasions that year.

The same case manager seemed to want to provoke, and repeatedly did provoke, his board and care home manager when she brought my friend to a facility or picked him up. Very amateurish.

As soon as he was brought to the hospital by ambulance, he was admitted to the hospital and put on IV antibiotics via a PICC central line. However, after only a few days in the hospital, and before the course of IV antibiotics was finished, he was discharged to a rehab facility in Pomona.

He got Scabies, had a Possible Incomplete Course of IV Antibiotics, then got COVID:

While at the rehab facility, he got scabies, and in the scratching that accompanied that, he pulled out his PICC IV. After this, the same case manager (who was for some reason also involved with the rehab facility) repeatedly dodged questions about if they re-established his IV and finished his antibiotics.

Before long, this case manager at the rehab facility tried to discharge him back to his board and care home - before his treatment for Scabies was complete. (They had previously volunteered that they would keep him until that was complete.) So I filed (and won) an appeal, and they kept him until that treatment was completed.

But he tested positive for COVID about when he would have been discharged, so they kept him a while longer. He had been vaccinated a number of times, but got COVID anyway. (In the early days of COVID, some authorities said a vaccinated person would not get it: The President said it in a 7/2021 Town Hall, and Fauci implied it the month before: [Ref: A. Fauci nterview with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, circa 210622.] But a lot of people in power said untrue things back then...)

My friend was then put in the COVID ward at the rehab facility. They made no mention of treatment for his COVID. On his proposed discharge day, it was found that the facility had not isolated him in a different room from other COVID patients, and they were refusing to do a PCR test.

The care home (understandably) refused to take him back under these conditions, so I appealed again. This second appeal was lost, but it bought enough time (private pay) to iron things out so he could be safely discharged. This Pomona area rehab facility never provided his records, even when my requests for records were backed up by the hospital.

After his early December 2022 discharge from the rehab facility, my friend did not seem to be as well as he was before his stay there. According to the care home, he was sleeping a bit more, and was not doing as much as he used to when he was up.

After my friend was back at the care home, I wanted to visit him there, but could not because I'd been unusually fatigued ever since I'd had to deal with the contentious case manager at the rehab facility for a protracted time. It seemed that the case manager never wanted things to be resolved, as though keeping them unresolved was a way for her to feed a control complex or something. And she had continued to provoke the care home manager clear up until my freind's discharge from the rehab facility.

To make matters worse, I found that the same case manager had also communicated (untrue) bad things about the care home manager to the HMO medical center, and someone she knew there began to also provoke the care home manager when she brought my friend there (and often stayed with him) for his medical appointments.

This understandably made the care home manager reluctant to bring him there, and conventional medical transports (which may not provide transport until two hours from the optimum time) then had to be looked into. She had brought my friend to the medical center without incident for over a year and a half, and there was never a problem until the contentious case manager got involved.

A Longer Term Hospitalization, with Recurring Life and Death Implications:

In February of 2023, my friend had a crisis and had to be hospitalized longer term. He had sepsis again (this time, an antibiotic resistant variety), pneumonia, and congestive heart failure.

Many things pointed back to the rehab facility he had been in a couple of months earlier (the same one that did not provide records), and the possibility that they had not finished his antibiotics after he had pulled out his IV. Some of the HMO doctors later even concurred with this opinion as to possibly why his sepsis was antibiotic resistant. Also, his heart had been fine in tests from only a few days before he was sent to the rehab facility, but now, his E.F. was almost 20 percent lower. He was put on oxygen (not a ventilator) early in this hospitalization.

He began to come around after several days in the hospital, and it was possible to speak with him on the phone on a few different days, starting about ten days after he was admitted. He was understandable, but his voice was weak, so I kept each call to under a minute or two per nurse recommendations. A few days later, he began to asperate. He soon regressed to where he could not speak, and 3 March was the last day he could speak during that hospitalization. He soon needed a feeding tube (which I approved), because he was aspirating too much for eating to be practical.

Early the next week, during a call to check on my friend's status, a nurse informed me that a certain doctor had put a note in my friend's file, indicating that I had supposedly approved withdrawal of his IV nutrition. This was alarming, because I had never approved such a thing. In fact, beyond the hospital informing me that my friend was on IV nutrition the week before, the subject had not been discussed during the entire hospitalization. And on top of this, the doctor's material indicated that the so-called conversation had occurred on a day when I had not spoken with a doctor about anything. I informed the nurse of this, but there wasn't much reaction.

The next time I called the hospital, they had CHANGED the date of the supposed conversation and approval to a date when I had actually spoken with a doctor. But on this call, I pointed out that I was aware of the false entry about IV nutrition, followed by the change of the conversation date in my friend's records. I also held out until they gave him IV nutrition again.

Something wasn't right ahout all of this, and I knew an in-person visit to the hospital would be the only way to get to the bottom of it. This was my first inkling that the HMO hospital could be a very dangerous place for my friend.

Later in the week, it appeared that the pulmonary staff made an error in administration of his oxygen (switching to a nose cannula, when he breathes through his mouth) and his O2 saturation had frequently gone down in the mid to low 80's for a number of days. I later learned that His kidneys had begun to fail during this period of low saturation, and it later appeared that dialysis would be necessary. But I did not learn any of this until after I arrived at the hospital.

The First Visit to See My Friend in a Distant Hospital. 12 March, 2023:

My friend was in an HMO hospital that was 70 miles away. A few years earlier, a 70 mile trip would not have been a big deal. However, after I had developed increased light sensitivity (as in rapidly getting sunburned) and increased fatigue in early 2021, I could only make such a trip if I rested a lot beforehand. And most driving had to be at night. I was going to eventually go to see my friend, but events of early March dictated that the first visit happen sooner instead of later.

My first visit to the hospital began on the evening of 12 March, 2023. My friend did not look quite the same as he did at the board and care home, but it was obvious that he was still him. I was expecting him to look like any patient would when their mouth is open and tubes are hooked up to them, so there was no shock upon seeing him. It did not take long to become used to seeing him that way.

I decided not to try to wake him up outright, because he seemed to cycle in and out of sleep every half hour to hour or so. When he appeared to be awake, I slowly and somewhat softly read to him from one of the books about the ship he served on in the Navy. These were the last thing he had read before he became incapacitated two years earlier, and his neighbor had informed me that one of these books was out on a table at his condo at that time.

I never tried to jar him into wakefulness or to do anything to startle him. From my own prior hospitalizations (all related to surgeries), I knew loud or sudden noise could be counterproductive, and that speaking for long in a voice much louder than what is used in normal conversation could seem to have so much echo as to sound unintelligible.

When he came around a little more than usual after several minutes of reading to him, he rarely opened his eyes, but there were other signs that he was awake. I gradually began to see what ways he could respond, and it became obvious that he could respond with his hands, though not very strongly. I knew that this was one way some people could respond if they were not up to talking.

So, I held his hand to begin to see what level of response he was capable of, as he felt up to it. (I normally would not hold the hand of a dude, but I had to go outside of my comfort zone for his sake.) I asked him to only try to respond if he felt up to it. I did not request a response very often, asking maybe once an hour. It soon became obvious that he could communicate via his hand.

The first clue that he could respond with his hand was in noticing that he was reluctant to let go of my hand UNLESS I first assured him that I was going to stay right by his hospital bed. When I told him that, he would let go of my hand when I gently pulled it away. But if I instead had to leave the room for a while, and told him that before pulling my hand away, he would tighten his grip if I started to pull my hand away. For the rest of the time I was at his bedside that evening, and then again the next day, the correlation for both responses was absolute.

On rare occasions, there had been a soft rattle in some of my friend's breaths, but it was not anytihing like what I'd heard people describe when referring to a death rattle.

I briefly prayed with him and occasionally softly read to him. In spite of his critical situation, it was a peaceful time that could be likened to the calm before the storm that would unexpectedly befall both of us the very next day. The hospital let me sleep in the hospital room that night, but it was a restless sleep due to how often people came into the room.

Some of the ways that my friend could respond or otherwise express himself are included here (and below), because staff at the HMO hospital seemed oblivious to the ways he could respond. However, later actions by the HMO left the impression that perhaps the staff was encouraged not to notice when my friend was responsive. What is included here can perhaps be tried by others who care to see if a person is responsive. (With the caveat that this is not medical advice.)

Careless Hospital Staff Panics My Friend, plus His Subsequent Desire to Prolong Life:

When the morning shift took over on 13 March 2023, they switched my friend from a nose canula to a mask for his oxygen, and temporarily increased the setting from 2 to 8 liters. His saturation had gone down in the early hours of the morrning, probably because they had used a nose canula instead of a mask the previous day and overnight, even though it appeared that he was breathing through his mouth. I learned that this had been the case on several previous days, and that kidney failure had soon begun to follow. One nurse said he had been at risk of coding that morning.

That afternoon, as I was with my friend at the hospital room, a female doctor came into his room. Almost immediately, she carelessly and aggressively pushed for a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order) - IN HIS HEARING.

When I did not promptly agree to that (I was blindsided by it suddenly being pushed, and was not prepared to address it on the spur of the moment while being pressured), she became more aggressive, while still in his hearing. And, also while still in his hearing, the same doctor was pushing the narrative that my friend was not responsive, even though he was responsive.

This happening in my friend's hearing obviously panicked him. His expression and some aura I could sense reminded me of the expression and fear that the older man had in the 1971 movie "Andromeda Strain", when seals in the laboratory failed, and the character thought the Andromeda Strain was going to kill him. My friend's breathing rate also became unsustainably high.

At that point, I decided to ask him if he wanted to be resuscitated (if necessary) or prolong life. His Advance Directive had said he did not want to prolong life, but his reaction of panic (to the doctor pushing a DNR and saying he was not responsive - in his hearing) seemed to indicate otherwise.

Over the next few hours, I incrementally asked my friend about those things - 20 times. He was asked this many times so that he could be asked in different ways, to keep reflexes from being interpreted as answers. And he calmed down after I explained that I was going to ask about his preferences, then back him up on his wishes.

At the time, there were not many ways he could respond. His eyes were rarely open, so he had to answer by squeezing my hand. To rule out reflexes, I asked questions in different ways, sometimes asking him to respond if he DID want to prolong life, and at other times to respond if he did NOT. I also tested his response before asking questions. He was 19 out of 20 on that, for 95 percent confidence that he was responding when (and as) asked to. This included his not indicating a response on the few occasions when he was asked not to respond.

Some of the time, I also asked him to squeeze my hand to indicate "Yes" answer, and NOT to squeeze to indicate "Yes" at other times. For each question, I moved a finger in the same way (so he could feel it with his hand) to indicate when I had finished asking a question. (At all other times, I kept my hand as still as a dead fish.) One purpose of this was to keep him from responding to just the sound of my voice when I began asking a question. Asking him NOT to squeeze for some of the answers made a reflex "answer" highly unlikely, since it would be difficult for him to inhibit squeezing my hand if squeezing it was a reflex.

The resuscitation and prolong life questions were asked separately, to simplify each question. The resuscitation question was asked 20 times, and the prolong question was asked 16 times, with half of the latter asked in the context of being on life support for the rest of his life. Eight additional questions specific to a ventilator were also asked. He was also asked about his religious faith.

His answers emphasized that he did want resuscitation and he did want to prolong life. To be more certain about his answers, I asked the last session of each set of questions in a way that placed more emphasis the down sides. For example, I emphasized the doctors' comments that CPR was likely to break his ribs, and that "full" recovery was unlikely after resuscitation. I also emphasized that being on a ventilator for more than a few days would involve creating a hole in his throat. The emphasis of his answers remained about the same.

After a matrix of asking each question the above noted number of times (and in different ways) was completed, there was more than 87 percent confidence that he DID want to be resuscitated, since he had indicated that he wanted that 18 out of the 20 times I asked him, and another one of his responses was 1-2 seconds later than usual, so it was counted as a neutral answer. There was 75 percent confidence that he DID want to prolong life, and 75 percent confidence that he DID want a ventilator if it was needed.

A group of questions was similar to the following. In this example, the questions ask if a person ever had a dog. The answers which indicate that a person DID have a dog follow each question:

No: Question:				  Answer, if DID have a dog:
1.  Grip if you DID have a dog.		  Grip
2.  Grip if you DID have a dog.		  Grip
3.  Grip if you NEVER had a dog.	  No Grip
4.  Grip if you DID have a dog.		  Grip
5.  Do NOT grip if you DID have a dog.	  No Grip
6.  Do NOT grip if you DID have a dog.	  No Grip
7.  Do NOT grip if you NEVER had a dog.	  Grip
8.  Do NOT grip if you DID have a dog.	  No Grip
C:  Asked to grip w/o asking question.	  Grip

In the categories that had 75 percent confidence from the answers, half of the negative answers occurred when a question was posed as a double negative (i.e. "do not squeeze if you do not want to prolong life", where a squeeze means do prolong life, as in the example question 7 above). That can be a curve ball even for healthy people. The request to grip at the end is for more confidence that not gripping was his intended reply, as opposed to his going to sleep.

A continuum in the complexity of how questions were asked served a dual purpose, in that it also helped assess mental alertness at a basic level. This was helpful because his outward appearance usually did not imply alertness. (But at the same time, I could tell that being there was meaningful to him.) The order that questions were asked was also switched around, to reduce anticipation bias.

I ordinarily would not have asked that many questions in only a few hours, but the hospital was pressing for an answer, and applying pressure toward a DNR and not prolonging life. He was asked a few of the same questions weeks later (after he had developed more obvious ways to respond), with similar results.

It is interesting to note what one doctor at a different hospital said months later: That a patient may become angry after being panicked by a careless staff member who pushes end of life matters, and claims that the patient is not responsive, all in the patient's hearing. And that out of anger at having been panicked, a patient may indicate a desire to prolong life - just as a way of saying "Screw you!" to the staff member that panicked them. Because prolonging life was the opposite of what that staff member wanted. I had never considered that this could be a patient's motivation for answering such important questions in a certain way.

Ironically, that could be sort of what happened concerning the HMO doctor who pushed for a DNR in my friend's hearing, while also claiming that he was not responsive. That panicked him. And his reaction could have also included anger. The panic may have been a very visceral thing for him, and that would have made it memorable in ways beyond intellect or ordinary memory.

If the doctor had not done that, there would have been no need to calm him down, and I may not have asked him about resuscitation or prolonging life as thoroughly as I had. Instead, I likely would have acted based on his Advance Directive. I still would have asked him about his current preferences, but not as many times, and not when he was panicked. Under those circumstances, his answers may have been different. And if he had not been panicked by that doctor, he then very well might have passed away in March of 2023, perhaps even peacefully.

But since he was panicked by that HMO doctor, I thoroughly asked him about prolonging life, etc., and his answers informed what I did on his behalf from then on.

My Friend Goes on Life Support for Real:

Unfortunately, the same doctor came back about four hours later, and began to push a DNR again. I told her to take it out in the hall, so we went out of the hospital room. However, when I again would not agree to a DNR (and cited my having questioned my friend about it), she got upset and intermittently started YELLING at me, increasingly acting like you might expect someone to act if they'd lost it emotionally. Before long, everyone in the corridor was looking in her direction.

As her anger grew, she became more and more illogical. For example, when I mentioned there had been a 19 out of 20 correlation when testing my friend's responses before I asked him questions, she interrupted and yelled: "So you're saying there's NO correlation!?" Other things she said became similarly nonsensical. She carried on for almost 10 minutes before leaving.

But the worst part is that she had been loud enough, for long enough, that it panicked my friend again. And I could not calm him down this time. His breathing rate was in the high 40's for hours, which was unsustainable.

After the shift changed that night, the night doctor said that he would not survive the night unless he was put on a ventilator. So I approved that, and he was moved to the ICU put on one at about 1:30 a.m. on 14 March. This was about 6.5 hours after he had been panicked the second time.

The Hotel from... (well, you know):

I stayed in a hotel that night because I knew I'd need to visit the hospital the next day. And I really needed sleep. I was stressed from (twice) being pressured by (and arguing with) the aggressive doctor about a DNR, and from being at the hospital until well after 2:00 a.m.

The hotel floor and some walls were so grimy that I did not want to set any of my stuff on the floor, or even on the upholstered furniture. So I found a way to set most of it on the combined desk and dresser top, and I put rest of it on the seat of my walker. Because of my continuing light sensitivity, I also had to set up the material I brought to black out the window to a degree beyond that provided by the curtains, etc.

It was finally possible to go to bed at about 3:30 a.m., but it took most of an hour to fall asleep due to the freeway noise, unfamiliar environment, and stress, etc. I hoped to sleep in until about an hour before the 11:00 a.m. checkout time. But the hotel I picked unexpectedly turned out to be the wrong one for that.

Well before 8:00 a.m. (at a time when I'd had less than 3 hours of sleep), loud heavy equipment started operating right outside of my room, and the noise kept going all morning. But I was able to intermittently doze off again after half an hour or so.

But then at 8:30, the hotel office called and said that they needed me to move my car ASAP because they were resurfacing their parking lot. Based on the call, I expected to only move my car a short distance in the same general area on the hotel property. It can take 15 minutes just to get partially dressed when that tired, and they were in a hurry, so I only wore a bath robe out to the car. (I ordinarily would wear a kilt to go outside this soon after getting up, because it is easy to put on when tired, yet is way better than a robe. But I had not worn or packed a kilt for this trip.)

I had to use a 4-wheel walker or cane for every step that soon after getting up, due to my disability. I had a handicapped placard and had arranged to be in the handicapped spot right in front of my room when I checked in, so you'd think they'd notice. I'd ordinarily leave the handicap spot for someone worse off than me, but I really needed it for that stay, partly because the curb up to the sidewalk in front of the other rooms was too high to negotiate with my walker. I was then unable to carry anything, so the seat on my walker was used to move everything that I took into the room.

However, after I began to move my car in the direction directed by a worker, someone from the hotel came up to my car window told me that I had to move my car to a restaurant parking lot that was close to a block away. That was unacceptable, since it would be extremely difficult to make it back to the room, not to mention the prospect of having to move everything I had in the room (which would require at least three trips on a walker) about a block to the car when I later checked out.

The hotel person seemed unsympathetic to that situation, even after having been informed of my disability and the importance of dealing with the hospital that day on matters that could be of life and death import. And they still insisted that I move my car that distance. At this, I royally cussed them out for a couple of sentences (not calling them names, but unfortunately using words that turned the air blue to describe their demands), while reiterating the points I had made earlier, to the extent possible on well under four hours of sleep. This was the first time I had sworn at anyone in decades, and I was disappointed in myself for doing so. (I was surprised that I did that after decades, but I apparently still had buttons that could be pushed after less than 4 hours of sleep, not to mention two years of dealing with contentious parties on behalf of my friend.)

After that, the hotel person relented and said I could leave my car where it was originally parked until I checked out. But I did not get much if any sleep because the loud equipment was still running, and I'd also been exposed to full sunlight. Also, arguing with the hotel person increased my heart rate. If I'd been a cartoon character, steam would have been blowing out my ears. I had always wondered why cartoon characters had steam blow out their ears when they were angry. Now that I finally felt like such a cartoon character, I knew why.

The hotel office reluctantly said that I could check out a little bit later than their usual time because of the disturbance. I was not able to get more sleep in the extra time, but it allowed enough time to take a cursory spit bath and try to organize some files for my friend before going to the hospital. As I was loading the car, the contractor working on the parking lot mentioned that there had heen no need to move my car when the hotel had wanted me to earlier that morning. After checking out, I finally left the hotel from... well, you know.

Protocols Reminiscent of Entering the Complex in the 1971 Andromeda Strain Film:

Because of the stress, sleep deprivation, pressure at the hospital the day before, and the tumultuous but brief stay at the hotel, I was so spaced out from brain fog at the hospital that there was little point in staying very long.

On so little sleep (by then, I had not slept much for two nights in a row), I lacked the forcefulness needed to effectively advocate for my friend, so the less time I interacted with staff that day, the better. This was unfortunate, since I could have set a different tone for future interactions with the hospital if I'd been alert enough to be more assertive (yet still tactful) that day.

On the other hand, it had rarely been necessary to be forceful at the hospital on that particular day, partly because the night shift doctor had taken charge of the situation and had more or less done that for me the previous night. The hospital did not bring up a DNR or withholding care that day.

By this time, the hospital had discovered that my friend had a staph infection that could spread around the hospital if it was allowed to escape, so it was necessary to don a gown and gloves (not to mention a mask and hair net) to visit him. For some reason, the gowns, etc., again reminded me of the 1971 film "Andromeda Strain", but a different part of it, where the movie characters were being disinfected as they entered the underground complex.

My friend was barely responsive at that time, and he had a lot of latency, so there was little point in seeing him for long that day. For the rest of the afternoon, my emphasis was to rest in the waiting room to try and gain enough alertness for the long drive home.

It took a week to recover after I got home, so I had to keep tabs on my friend's condition via phone. He was put on dialysis the next day, and stepped down from the ICU a few days later. Several days after the trip, after I had regained a little strength and more alertness, I watched the 1971 version of "Andromeda Strain" again, for the first time in years.

About a week later, the hospital said that my friend had fluid around his lungs, and they recommended that the fluid be removed. I promptly approved this, especially given that the amount of fluid was significant.

Toward the end of March, his attending physician also proposed that he should get a PEG (abdominal wall) feeding tube instead of the one routed through his mouth or nose. I was in favor of this as well, because people I knew (who had feeding tubes) had said that getting rid of the feeding tube in their nose was a big improvement in their quality of life, mainly because it eliminated a severe recurring sore throat.

I visited the hospital once more in March, and a few more times in the coming weeks, staying in a hotel each time so as to get two visiting days out of each 140 mile round trip.

On each trip (and on each phone call between trips), I checked status on the previously discussed procedures, and the answer was always that these had not yet been done. The reason given at the time emphasized that they just had not gotten around to doing the procedures yet, but it was later found that this was not the real reason.

If all of the procedures had been done, I may have considered the hospital's subsequent stated preference that dialysis be done only for a trial period. Any discussions about a possible trial period had been in the context of the procedures being part of the entry criteria for such a trial period. But the procedures had not been done. In fact, even after almost a month, neither of them had been done.

High Pressure HMO Tactics, Including Numerous Unsolicited Calls:

Visiting the HMO hospital was almost always extremely stressful. It was 70 miles from where I lived, and every time I went there, one or more doctors (etc.) would push a DNR, or even more than that. When I did not agree, the person pushing it would often get upset, and maybe about half of the time, even start yelling at me. (The nurses usually did not have that bad of an attitude.)

All of this wore me out, and I had to stay in a motel overnight to be up to making the drive back home. I usually at least briefly came back to the hospital after checking out of the motel, to get in two visits on each trip. Needless to say, the pressure made me averse to visiting the hospital, so I only visited there every week or so.

The hospital was rarely a place where I could visit my friend in peace. So much pressure was brought to bear at the hospital that it was impossible to have any peace when visiting him. I was also concerned that he could pick up on the tension that resulted from all of the pressure imposed by certain staff there.

Similar pressure had been brought to bear on my Dad when my Mom was hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic hospital in Phoenix, AZ back in 2014, but at least they had limited most of the pressure to daily meetings that happened at designated times. The exception was when a certain pompous doctor came by the hospital room unannounced, to pressure my Dad in Mom's hearing. One aspect of my Mom's final hospitalization there reminded me of the movie "Coma", in that the ICU room she was in was also used to store several unused rolling IV stands, and this limited available visitation space in the room. It also did not communicate a success oriented situation.

Regarding my friend in 2023, I wondered what certain HMO hospital staff may have been saying in his hearing that could alarm him on the days I was not at the hospital. They had said plenty in his hearing on some of the days when I was there.

In addition to the pressure while at the HMO hospital, I also received numerous unsolicited calls from the HMO hospital when I was at home. Almost all of these were pushing a DNR (and/or termination of dialysis, etc.), often without providing any information about my friend's condition.

When I would not agree to a DNR, etc., the person calling would often also get upset, and a portion of the callers would also start yelling over the phone. On some days, there were multiple unsolicited calls per day. On one occasion, I got at least three such unsolicited calls in one day, which in total used up almost an hour and a half of time trying to pressure me.

So there was no peace from the HMO even when I was at home. I began to dread hearing the phone answering machine or seeing that messages had been left on my phone. I had to answer when they called and began to leave a message, since their first words were that they were calling to update me on my friend's condition. However, there was rarely any update when I answered. Instead, it was nothing but pressure to try to get me to approve a DNR, etc.

Since so much time was spent on the phone with unsolicited callers from the hospital, I sometimes brought up peripheral subjects to establish context. Many callers from the hospital seemed to be very cavalier about things that would, or could, result in my friend's death in the near term, so I sometimes mentioned that I had asked my friend about his faith in late March, in the context of eternal life in Jesus Christ.

The staff response to this surprised me. Most of the callers had their family origins in a certain Communist country in Asia. And their response ranged from having no idea what I was talking about, to that of a deer in the headlights. They had no concept about eternal life. They could not even grasp what eternal life was, or that it was even possible.

The subject even made a few sound afraid. But if they could make numerous unsolicited high pressure calls that don't even update me on my friend's condition, I could occasionally bring up unsolicited subject matter such as faith. Goose-Gander!

All of this made the staff's cavalier attitude about death seem even more puzzling. If there is no eternal life, then this life on earth is all there is. Yet they had no problem with snuffing it out.

HMO Bioethics Board Denies Him Important Procedures Without Informing Me:

Because the above procedures (PEG feeding tube and removing fluid from around my friend's lung) were NOT done, all bets were off in regard to limiting dialysis to a trial period as far as I was concerned. Failure to perform some of the procedures was setting him up to fail.

I did not find out until some time later that those procedures had been denied by the HMO Bioethics Board. In some cases, as early as March. Yet I had not been informed of this as POA.

It was not until the next November that I discovered (from a doctor with some candor) that they had never removed the fluid from around his lung, and that this was why. (That might also explain their failure to provide his records that included any of this time period. But I have other evidence of this and other aspects.)

After a while, by early April 2023, my friend began to tolerate being weaned off of the ventilator, and he began to be able to respond to questions by moving his legs on command. This provided two communication modes, and it looked like more may develop. I asked him one of the previous questions again a few times, and got a similar answer.

I would have asked him more at this later time, but one of the doctors said it could tax him too much. Yet at the same time, the doctor was saying he was not responsive. That begs the question of how a question can be taxing if a patient supposedly is not responsive? (But the fact is that he was responsive, and his response latency was improving.)


Rescuing a Friend from an HMO "Death Panel" (And Yes, Death Panels are REAL!)

Since the term "Death Panel" was used during a 2009 debate about "Obamacare" legislation, there has been controversy about whether or not death panels became a reality. They did indeed become a reality (I have first hand knowledge of this), but in a different way than what was anticipated back then. In the 2009 debate, the term was used in the context of bureaucrats deciding which disabled or critically ill patients would or would not receive adequate care. The death panel I encountered was not anything like this. It was instead a function of the "Bioethics Board" in my friend's HMO.

The Death Panel (unofficial name) I encountered was very real, and I have its unilateral April 2023 written decree of death for my friend (via withheld care) as evidence. I also have a follow up message from them that dictated when care would be withheld (and that acknowledged that, as his POA, I objected to their withholding said care).

In that message, the Board's stated, written intent was again that this would result in my friend's death. So in my experience (summarized below), the death panel was a role that the "Bioethics Board" of the hospital or HMO took on; in this case, at a time when the organization did NOT want to expend a certain scope of resources on a patient.

Once the Board had their sights on a patient (in this case, my friend in 2023), care was denied to him, often behind the scenes at first (as in March 2023), in that withholding of care was not timely disclosed. In the case of my friend, I was not even informed that the Bioethics Board was involved in some of these matters until weeks and months (8 months in the case of one procedure) later.

If a patient survives this initial stage, as my friend did, the Board has a formal meeting and DECREES that certain aspects of care will openly be DENIED to the patient, with the STATED INTENT that this will result in the DEATH of the patient. (Thus, the term "Death Panel".)

I first got wind of the Death Panel on about 13 April 2023, during a heated exchange over the phone with one of the doctors who made an unsolicited call to my house. He was wanting to both impose a DNR and end my friend's dialysis. When I calmly and cordially would not agree to these, he quickly got mad and started yelling over the phone, not too unlike a few previous callers.

However, this doctor really lost it, and declared that he was going to unilaterally impose a DNR over my objection as POA. I obviously disagreed and argued with him about that.

Then, when this angry doctor was more upset, he started bragging about things that the Bioethics Board had been doing behind the scenes.

This was my first introduction to the existence of the Bioethics Board, and its involvement.

The most notable thing he bragged about was that it was that the Bioethics Board had denied my friend a PEG (abdominal wall) feeding tube over two weeks earlier - shortly after my friend's attending physician had recommended a PEG tube, and had also obtained my approval for it over two weeks earlier.

Since that time, doctors and nurses had said that the hospital just had not gotten around to the procedure yet. When in reality, the Board had already denied the procedure without informing me. That did not sound very ethical, yet the Board called itself a "Bioethics Board."

The next thing the angry doctor did was proudly declare that the Bioethics Board was meeting the next day, and that they were going to overrule me - and deny dialysis to my friend.

From that point onward, I sought to make direct contact with the Bioethics Board.

The Board did not meet the next day, but they did meet early the next week. When I finally reached someone who knew what was going on, I was told that I could indirectly submit material to support my position to the Board.

I would never have learned this if I had not pushed for answers. It was obvious that they had no intention of informing me of what the Board was doing prior to my calls. One hospital person I spoke with even said that patient families or POA's rarely know what the Boiethics Board is up to until after the Board meets and makes a decision.

This was very short notice for me to get an argument and related material together. And based on the what the Board said they had considered in their decision (see below) I was not convinced that they had received (or considered) everything I had sent. It was eventually possible to communicate directly with the head of the Board, but not until the evening before their meeting early the next week.

The Panel's Death Decree:

Early in the week of 16 April, 2023, the HMO Bioethics Board met and ruled that they would OVERRULE me as POA, and UNILATERALLY impose a DNR, and deprive my friend of dialysis; with the expressed intent that this would result in his DEATH.

Prior to when they did this, I had been under the impression that it was illegal to overrule a POA, especially on something this significant. Perhaps it is illegal, but they didn't act like it was.

They ruled this way, even though I had submitted material to them stating that my friend had unambiguously indicated that he DID want to prolong life in March 2023. I had even sent them documentation for how he had been asked twenty times about prolonging life, etc.

The way the Board acted behind closed doors, the way the decision was written, and other aspects of the ordeal, reminded me of the 1983 film "The Star Chamber", except the "crime" for which the HMO "Star Chamber" pronounced death was simply being elderly and sick at the same time.

The Board allowed a brief time to try to transfer my friend to another hospital, but they provided NO assistance at all in doing this (when regulations appear to indicate that they should assist in this). And I later found that my efforts to get him transferred had even been undermined.

Sometimes, I was undermined by the HMO taking several days to send my friend's records. The HMO also would not give me records from his 2023 hospitalization, which made it impossible for me to provide records to a hospital when the HMO's delay was excessive.

Another problem was that one hospital thought the HMO's records were (to paraphrase that hospital's description) a sock drawer of contradiction. (Perhaps yet another reason why the HMO did not provide me with records from that time.) An even bigger problem was that HMO doctors would not speak with other hospitals, while the other hospitals said that they could not even start a transfer unless it was initiated by a doctor.

I had also tried to relocate my friend to various sub-acute skilled nursing facilities, but that was also undermined, usually by a hospital case manager calling the facilities to discourage them from taking him. (Some of facilities told me that this is what happened.) The case manager who did this was not his usual case manager.

There were other times when the same new case manager claimed that a given facility had told her that they would not take my friend. However, when I called the facility myself, the facility said they had not heard from anyone at the HMO, and that they generally would need his records to make a decision. One even told me it was likely that they would take him if they could get his records and admit him while a bed was still open, but then the new HMO case manager delayed sending his records until it was too late.

In a single day, this new case manager shot down the primary facility and two backups. And she shot down more on other days. This and other circumstances gave me the impression that the new case manager may have been a "fixer", whose purpose was to hinder my friend's transfer.

I was blindsided by all of this interference, and it appeared that the HMO Bioethics Board had not been sincere when they said that my friend could be transferred.

On a number of other occasions, when it looked like I had something arranged, the HMO hospital would move the goal posts, communicate things that discouraged people at the facilities, withdraw existing authorizations (some facilities told me that the HMO also did this), and/or increasingly say that more aspects had to be private pay. All of this seemed unethical to say the least, so it seemed ironic that a "Bioethics" Board appeared to be behind it.

A private pay situation was an issue not so much for financial reasons (my friend's money was HIS money), but it complicated or undermined things administratively, in that it was difficult or impossible to get my friend admitted to certain facilities, or scheduled for certain procedures, on a private pay basis. Especially on short notice.

After the above hindrances became apparent, I (in parallel) began formalizing documentation for the purpose of locating and hiring an attorney who would seek a Court Order to keep the HMO from doing in my friend, then I contacted a few law firms.

Unfortunately, it seemed that preventing harm was not what the law firms were into. They were oriented toward going after offending parties after harm had been done. That would not do my friend any good, since the harm (if it was allowed to happen) would result in his death.

Needless to say, having to do so many thing in parallel in April and May 2023, with the life or death of my friend hanging in the balance, was very stressful. This ultimately exacerbated my own medical condition to such an extent that major aspects would persist even through when this was written in mid 2024.

But even worse for my friend, trying to find a place to transfer him to was so labor intensive that it was impossible to visit him until the matter was resolved.

The Panel's Specific Death Sentence:

A couple of weeks after the "Bioethics" Board's mid April death decree (and ironically, on my friend's birthday), the Board declared (in writing) that they would overrule me as POA, that my friend's dialysis would end in two days, and that he would experience a "natural dying process". Specifically, low points of the written communication included the following:

"...so that you will have written confirmation, the medical team intends for [patient's name] HD [hemodialysis] session on [date] to be his final session..."
"..our intent will be to maintain patients's [imposed] DNR status, discontinue HD, and allow a natural dying process to occur..."
"Death due to renal failure is not immediate, so it is expected that [patient name] will persist for several days or more once HD is discontinued."

And over my written and verbal objections as my friend's POA, they stopped his dialysis two days later. The Board's response to each written objection was to only write the reply: "Your objection is noted."

Maybe this is why "HMO" also works as an acronym for "High Mortality Organization"!

After several days without dialysis, my friend had to go on a ventilator AGAIN, and he was never able to get off of it after that. (However, the HMO Bioethtics Board's then undisclosed prohibition on removing fluid from around his lung was also a factor in this. Their failure to ever remove the fluid, and the Board's role in that, was not disclosed until November.)

The Rescue:

At this point, there were few options left. It had taken weeks to try and find a different facility for my friend. But all attempts had failed, mostly because (based on feedback from a few facilities) my efforts had been undermined, usually by the new case manager, plus a couple of others at the HMO who had withdrawn existing authorizations. But finally, one of the independent congregate homes (one that the HMO had previously discouraged from taking him) decided to accept him.

Then, when the head of the Bioethics Board was on vacation, my friend was physically "rescued" from the HMO hospital, by having an ambulance (private pay to the tune of $4k) move him 70 miles - to a sub-acute care congregate home in another county. (The HMO may have been in the wrong in insisting that this transfer be private pay, since they later had to pay for it.)

His discharge from the HMO hospital was not an AMA discharge, partly because there was no "medical advice" to go against when the HMO's stated intent was to bring about the end of his life.

My friend's new location was closer to where I lived (making it more practical to visit him), and it was in another jurisdiction, where his rights as a resident of the new county could presumably be asserted in order to keep the HMO from clawing him back to their hospital in the original county.

The literal recurring life and death nature of all of this, and the times my efforts to transfer my friend had been undermined by the HMO, had caused (and was still causing) unbearable stress. This is partly because it seemed that failing to rescue my friend from his HMO, even if I did everything I could, would be the same as letting him down or violating his trust.

A Lot of Damage Had Been Done Before My Friend's Rescue:

Once my friend was in the congregate home (and thus closer to my place), I visited him there almost every day. The DNR was removed, and dialysis was ordered by his attending physician. However, things were about to get worse before they got better. A lot of harm had been done to him during the week that the HMO had deprived him of dialysis.

The first problem was that the congregate home failed to get him to his first (private pay) dialysis session on time, and then the dialysis clinic could not work him in. The home did not tell me about this until I called them to check status. The home also did not tell his attending physician about their failure to get my friend to his first dialysis session, so I told him, and he went ballistic about the home's failure to do this, since he knew how long the HMO had deprived my friend of dialysis.

(For background: Once a transfer from the HMO had been arranged a couple of days earlier, the HMO had provided one brief dialysis session to stabilize him for transport, but it wasn't enough dialysis to normalize his tests, or to even partially correct for all that went wrong during a whole week without dialysis.)

The same day, on the evening before he was to have what would have been his second dialysis session, he pulled the feeding tube out of his nose. He was then sent to the nearest HMO hospital to get another one put in, but they kept him there almost all night before getting around to it.

No one seemed to know where my friend was at the hospital, and I was literally up all night trying to locate him and learn his status. The congregate home had not kept tabs on his situation very well. Instead, they were trying to use the occasion to have the hospital implement a PEG feeding tube before they sent him back. Knowing what I then knew about the HMO Bioethics Board's role in denying him a PEG tube in late March, I told the congregate home that trying to force the issue of a PEG tube with the HMO during the current hospitalization was very ill-advised. Ensuring that he made his dialysis appointment (which was then only hours away) was far more important.

It was about 5 a.m. before I reached someone at the hospital who knew where my friend was. At that time, I informed them of his dialysis appointment that morning, and they already seemed to know. They were just then putting in a conventional feeding tube that was routed through his nose, like the one he had before. They said he was not actually admitted to the hospital that night.

The hospital said that he would be picked up by their medical transport at 7:30 that morning. This was cutting it close for his dialysis appointment, but it could barely work if everything happened on time. I asked them if they could arrange an earlier transport, and they said they could not.

Then, even though the HMO hospital knew that his (private pay) dialysis appointment was early in the morning, their transport to take him back to the congregate home was not even close to being on time. It was over an hour late, and he was not even picked up until after the time of his dialysis appointment. (And they would not instead take him directly to the dialysis clinic to compensate for that.) That made two missed dialysis sessions.

Worse, the HMO hospital would not do dialysis to compensate for keeping him so long that he would miss his existing dialysis appointment. And worse still, the HMO had sent him back to the congregate home in questionable condition, and he was unstable by later that morning.

It began to appear that all had been lost.

My Own Health Crashes During the Stress of Recurring Imposed Life & Death Situations:

Ultimately, my own health failed dramatically over a period of only a couple of hours, just as it appeared that all had been lost on the morning of Tuesday, 16 May, 2023. My doctor said that I had completely depleted my reserves, and had become exhausted in the fullest sense of the word.

The potential outcomes my doctor warned about (for failing to get enough rest from then on) were, and still are, scary. (This is part of why I could not later push with the limited vigor I normally would when trying to get to the 2024 eclipse after the long Frontier Internet and phone outage.)

The Most Important Parts of My Friend's Rescue Happened While I was Too Ill to Act:

I have mentioned prayer in previous eclipse journals, and it applies here as well. This is because, just as I became temporarily incapacitated myself from all of the stress and short notice sleep deprivation, and while I was so spent that I could do nothing but lay in bed and pray - that was the time that the most important aspects of my friend's rescue happened.

At the very time when I had no power to do anything at all, and during the very hours I was in a helpless state, many beneficial things that were beyond my control happened:

One of the most important aspects of making his rescue effective was his admission to a NON-HMO hospital - under conditions where the HMO had to pay for everything, which (due to what the HMO Board, etc., had done) is something that I had not even considered as a possibility.

But things would get worse before they got better. Because by this time, a lot of damage had been done to my friend due to his HMO denying him dialysis for a week:

On 16 May, 2023, the local HMO hospital had not sent my friend back to the congregate home until after the time of his private pay ($600 per session) dialysis appointment that morning. This caused him to miss that appointment. But due to the urgency of his situation, the clinic said they could work him if he could get there by an hour later, but then the congregate home claimed that transport could not be arranged for that in time. (Since he was on a ventilator, ordinary medical transport would have been inadequate.) So his dialysis was rescheduled for early that afternoon.

When a suitably equipped medical transport came to the congregate home to take my friend to the dialysis clinic, the people providing the transport found that he was too unstable to go to a dialysis clinic, and said that he instead had to be taken to the NEAREST hospital right away.

This was less than four hours after the HMO hospital had sent him back to the congregate home!

As it turned out, the nearest hospital was NOT with his HMO. After he was admitted, it became obvious that this hospital had a completely different (and better) attitude than the HMO. This non-HMO hospital was success oriented.

His HMO mildly tried to claw him back to the hospital in the other county (almost 70 miles away), but I did not approve their taking him back, and I asserted his rights as a new resident of Los Angeles County (by virtue of his being in the northwest Los Angeles area Congregate Home prior to the current hospitalization), and the HMO relented.

And after a few close calls over the first two days at this new success oriented, non-HMO hospital, his condition turned around within two weeks. He also was never under a DNR at this hospital.

One important difference from the HMO is that the success oriented non-HMO hospital gave him enough dialysis to eventually bring his test results into the normal range; while the HMO (when it was providing any dialysis at all) was sometimes only doing it enough (at times only twice a week) to get his numbers down to about twice as high as high normal values at the end of a session.

Among other things, it was also found that my friend had developed a large, open pressure sore during his stay at the HMO hospital. It was huge, being the size of a business card, and it was not expected to heal very quickly.

When I recovered enough to be able to take a taxi to the new hospital, and they learned of the circumstances that brought him there, they said he was the first patient they ever had there who had been saved from the decree of a Bioethics Board (or, in non-medical terms, a death panel).

Meanwhile, his condition improved at this new success oriented hospital. The hospital was a more positive environment than the HMO hospital had been, and it was closer. For this reason, I visited once or twice a week, though I had to take a taxi due to the exhaustion that had set in on 16 May.

Another good thing (though a far lesser thing by comparison) about the success oriented hospital was that their cafeteria had good food at a very reasonable price, and the cafeteria hours were less limited than what I'd recently seen at other hospitals.

He Improves Enough for Discharge to a Skilled Nursing Facility with In-House Dialysis:

My friend started opening his eyes and mouthing words within two more weeks, and he was discharged to a sub-acute skilled nursing facility another couple of weeks after that. I really wanted him in a facility with in-house dialysis (to spare him the stress of being transported for every dialysis session), and this is what was ultimately arranged for him.

In addition to the in-house dialysis, the facility used a bed with an air mattress in which different cells would increase and decrease pressure, in order to help with his current pressure sore(s) and reduce the risk of his developing more of them.

He was intermittently and audibly speaking by not much more than two weeks after he was admitted to the skilled nursing facility. Because he was talking past his ventilator, he could not speak very loud, and it did not sound like his usual voice. The facility tried a speech enabled ventilator attachment a couple of times, but he usually seemed to do better without it.

Most of the time, he'd say "Hi" when he noticed I was in the room, then say "Bye" when I left. When he said "Hi", he often took my hand, looked me in the eye, and squoze my hand tightly, while also moving his hand up and down a little. At other times, he most often asked what kind of place he was in, and less often, where it was. He did not seem to remember the answer(s) by about a week later, and would ask again.

Since he was talking past the ventilator, he did not talk in long sentences. Instead, each greeting, question, or comment from him was usually limited to what he could say in one or two breaths. The air conditioner there was loud, so he sometimes had to repeat what he said before I could hear him. In general, he only spoke to me between 3 and 6 times throughout any given visit.

This was a radical improvement over the previous situation where the HMO had said he was not even responsive, when in fact he was responsive even back then. But now, after success oriented treatment, he was responsive in more conventional ways.

However, one of the remaining issues, which could possibly be expected under the circumstances, was that he was not wakeful for very long on any given day. At best, maybe an hour or two in total per day that I could observe. He had begun to exhibit this trend shortly before he was hospitalized at the HMO hospital back in February, though is wakeful time was then still up to several hours per day.

He seemed most likely to speak about half an hour after he was turned and cleaned by a nurse in the late afternoon or early evening. I usually went out on the facility's roof patio to have the meal I brought along while the turning and cleaning was happening. I also waited that long to eat because I could not spend long on the roof patio while it was in full sunlight. The roof patio was noisy due to the surrounding roof air conditioners, but was otherwise a reasonably comfortable area. The facility did not have a cafeteria, but there was a break room for the employees only.

Since the sub-acute skilled nursing facility had in-house dialysis, he did not have to be moved to another facility for each dialysis session. In time, he began to regain kidney function, and to require dialysis less often. I was informed that he was producing over a liter of urine some days, and that his related test results stayed in the normal range for longer after each dialysis session.

I visited him several times, but I still had to take a taxi because I continued to be too exhausted to drive there. (And driving in downtown Los Angeles wasn't my cup of tea even before that time.)

I prayed with him and read to him (usually from his Navy books) the first time he became wakeful on a given visit, or when it appeared that he may soon become wakeful. In the latter case, this usually brought him around in a more obvious way after several minutes.

On one occasion, I brought some badges from his dance club and some other things, and told him what they were as he touched them. This seemed to be meaningful to him in a generic sense. He also smiled when I played classical music on the radio for him. Most music he had at his condo was classical.

Before long, he became more responsive to things he saw, so I brought his iPad, which had the most recent photos he had taken on it. He responded to these, and seemed to enjoy seeing them. I also put some of his older hard copy photos in a notebook, and showed him those as well.

Concurrent with this, the sheer amount of paperwork (hundreds of pages, including admitting, approvals, applications, and the HMO-related complaints and appeals of the previous winter and spring), and the communications required to see to his affairs (and keep him out of the HMO's clutches) was daunting. The humanity of the person could become lost in all the work. Ironically, this work for him limited how often I had energy to visit him in a hospital or nursing facility.

With few exceptions, staff had not spent much time interacting with him, especially at the HMO, where they'd said he was not even capable of being interacted with. Exceptions were that the success oriented non-HMO hospital, and some nurses at the skilled nursing facility, had taken time to solicit responses from him (including to hearing his name) and to note how he responded.

I tried to visit him often enough to keep his responsiveness close enough to the surface that he did not have to be slowly brought out of "Never-Never Land" during each visit. But relatively frequent visits were only possible through July, due mostly to fatigue and increased paperwork.

I hoped he'd improve enough to be wheeled outside onto the nursing facility's roof patio that was just outside his room, so he could be in the sun like he preferred. But he had a long way to go before that would be possible. Much of the time, he'd only been regaining ground he had lost in the rapid decline from when the HMO had deprived him of dialysis in May. I wondered how much better his condition might have been if the HMO had not harmed him in that way.

Over the rest of the summer, he remained at the sub-acute skilled nursing facility. He was not under a DNR there. And during that summer, he was safely out of his HMO's clutches.

Bureaucracy Puts My Friend in Harm's Way Again:

Due to the situation with his HMO, I sought to get him out of his HMO well before the normal Medicare Open Enrollment period. He qualified for Medicare "Special Help", which should have made it possible to switch providers by the next quarter. This could make it possible to get him out of his HMO, and into regular Medicare with a supplement, as soon as 1 October, 2023.

However, in late July, the State level services fouled up and enrolled him in the same HMO, when I had specified something entirely different for him. I had made the selection within a week of when the State provided the forms, so I was timely.

But the worker for the State had apparently lost the POA, etc., documents that were provided with his application, and she refused to recognize me as his representative so I could reverse their error. The worker offered no timely solution. This ultimately contributed to his death, by overloading me with more work and making it impossible to get him out of his HMO in time.

I normally would not mention such details, but there were many irregularities in the HMO and in this State matter, and there was no official mechanism to address it. I wondered how many other patients or advocates went through something similar, or how many other patients didn't survive something similar.

The only agency I thought was really good was Medicare. They were amazing (in a good way) by comparison. And the success oriented hospital in the northwest part of L.A. was amazing as well. But I can't mention its name because I have to keep certain things vague for HIPAA reasons.


The HMO Gets Their Hooks in My Friend Again, with Fatal Results:

In mid September 2023, my friend had a crisis and was taken from the skilled nursing facility to the nearest hospital, which was a non-HMO hospital. I visited him there and spoke with the doctors and other personnel.

When I saw him, he again indicated that he wanted to prolong life, though in a less convincing way than he had the previous March. I also did not ask him about it as many times as I had the previous spring. He was in decline, and did not have much quality of life to look forward to. But if he wanted to prolong, I would back him up for as long as doing so was feasible for him.

I had an in-person meeting with the Palliative team at the non-HMO hospital, and they thought it was reasonable to pull him through in this hospitalization, including in regard to dialysis. It looked like he was not far from weaning off of it, so only a few more sessions may have been needed. But other indicators made it appear that he could be getting close to running out of cycles.

However, behind the scenes, the HMO was pressuring the hospital to transfer him to one of their hospitals. (The pressure they brought to bear, as related by the non-HMO hospital, was quite dramatic.) And the HMO's efforts to transfer my friend were not all out in the open.

For example, when people from the non-HMO hospital called me early the next week, they said my friend was being taken back to the nursing facility (and I think they really thought that this was the case), but it turned out that his HMO instead had the ambulance take him to their own hospital.

At this point, his HMO had their hooks in him again. They again imposed a DNR and deprived him of dialysis, using the antiquated Bioethics Board ruling of the previous April as justification.

One doctor at the HMO hospital made it clear that the HMO intended to finish what it started the previous spring, without any acknowledgement of what had happened over the summer. He said that the hospital was going to make (to paraphrase his words): "what should have happened months ago" (namely, death), happen to my friend in the near term.

My friend's dialysis catheter was being changed by the non-HMO hospital at the time the HMO transferred him. (In that the catheter had been removed due to suspected infection, but it had not yet been replaced.) And once he was at the HMO hospital, the HMO refused to put in a catheter as a way to enforce their dialysis ban. And they again stated INTENT to end his life via withheld dialysis, regardless of my position on the matter (as I acted based on his preferences) as his POA.

Because his transfer to the HMO hospital had happened without my consent (and apparently without the knowledge of some at the non-HMO hospital), I refused to sign the admission papers for the HMO hospital. I also refused to provide consent on the phone, telling them that I did not authorize the transfer. (Not sure how the HMO planned to bill Medicare for that, when there was no consent for his admission to their hospital.)

And so, at a time when he was nearly weaned off of dialysis, his HMO deprived him of dialysis yet again, and he began to succumb to this (and to the undisclosed fluid that was still around his lung) over the next two and a half months. They soon transferred him back to the subacute skilled nursing facility - but without a dialysis catheter. The DNR was removed at the nursing facility.

At that time, I could not think of any way to improve his situation. I still had brain fog and fatigue from when my health crashed the previous May (which is why I had used a taxi for every trip to the nursing facility or hospital), and it was worse while I had apathy from bereavement over Willma Alcocer, who had passed away only weeks before, in late August. All of this seemed to adversely impact my ability to think of options, and the notion of implementing a dialysis catheter as a private pay operation at a non-HMO hospital did not even occur to me while my friend was still on the planet. I had thought of this sort of thing the previous May, and spent many days arranging it over and over again, only to be undermined by the HMO every time except the final time. But I could not think of much while I had such severe fatigue, brain fog, and apathy that fall.

In late November, my friend was admitted to a different HMO hospital, mainly for high BUN and other abnormal tests. I approved his November admission there by phone, CONTINGENT on his getting dialysis if he needed it. But they re-imposed a DNR and deprived him of dialysis anyway.

Inconsistencies at the HMO Hospital:

On 25 November, a doctor at the HMO hospital called and claimed that my friend was in complete kidney failure, that he was "not making any urine", that his veins and arteries were leaking fluid, and that he had a few other end stage symptoms. He thought that my friend could pass away as soon as that night or the next day. This doctor thought that heart failure or pulmonary edema were what would take him down, but he didn't know which one would get him first.

Ever since the HMO had consistently denied dialysis to my friend (starting in September, 2023), the time between his ER or hospital visits began to get shorter. At first, he did not need to go for several weeks; but then eventually, he had to go after only a couple of weeks. Ultimately, this became only one week. Each time this happened, he was a little worse than before, and he did not recover as much after each ER visit. It reminded me of skipping a rock on a pond, where the skips off the water get closer and closer together until the rock loses momentum and sinks.

Up until this hospitalization, my friend remained aware of his surroundings when awake, and he responded to hearing his name. That is, except for when he was in an HMO hospital. (Maybe he was also responsive in the hospital, but the HMO just would not acknowledge it.) I was too ill to visit and see for myself. I wasn't even able to get dressed on some days during this time period.

What the HMO doctor said on 25 Nov. informed my decisions of that day, mainly in regard to the DNR and escalation of certain types of care. In recent months, the HMO had always put a DNR on my friend (over my objection) whenever he was in one of their facilities. But based on the stated proximity of death, I did not oppose the DNR that day, though I obviously did not request it either.

However, I later found that the statement about complete kidney failure was not true at all. The HMO had exaggerated his condition, possibly to create the impression that this was his last rodeo. And, since the HMO had long withheld certain types of care, it could very well become just that.

This discrepancy might explain something odd that had happened during the 25 November call. Unlike the cold way most HMO doctors had come across, the doctor who called that day sounded like he was about to cry at the end of the call, even though I had been able to keep my composure during that call. (Difficult to do under stress, after the death of Willma Alcocer in late August.)

The same doctor had also informed me that the Bioethics Board was the party that prevented removing fluid from around my friend's lung the previous spring. This was the first time I was made aware of this. Given this doctor's candor on that, I wondered if he might have sounded like he was about to cry because he may have violated his conscience when he exaggerated my friend's ailments.

During this hospitalization, the HMO wanted to take my friend off of the ventilator, but since they had refused to remove the recently disclosed (yet long preexisting) fluid from around his lung, I would not let them take him off of it. Pulmonary issues had been a sore point with him ever since the careless doctor had panicked him the previous March.

A day or two later, one of the more aggressive HMO palliative care people (who I had not even engaged beyond a preliminary consulting role) misrepresented part of a conversation that she'd stretched out to 45 minutes in attempts to pressure me, and she told a doctor to reduce his oxygen without the doctor discussing it first.

This palliative person did not even know his saturation numbers, and was expressing a number of medical opinions, when it was obvious that her medical knowledge was very limited. For example, she said the 30 percent oxygen he was on was "almost the same" as room air, when in fact, room air is 21 percent oxygen, and I'd heard that 30 percent oxygen was the equivalent of at least a 2 liter per minute setting, with each liter corresponding to 4 percent more oxygen versus room air.

I did not learn of the change in my friend's oxygen until I spoke with a doctor about 24 hours later, on 29 November. At that time, the doctor thought he was terminal, but she did not think that he would pass away very soon, indicating that it could be several days to a week or more.

She also said he was only then beginning to have severe kidney failure, rather than (supposedly) having been in complete kidney failure since the previous Saturday. This was when I realized that my friend's condition had been exaggerated in the Saturday phone call, though further discussion revealed that most other things that the doctor had said about his condition appeared to be true.

His Last Rodeo:

However, my friend unexpectedly passed away from heart failure less than eight hours later. He passed away in the late night of 29 November, 2023. This was an unexpected time, but it was probably a better and faster way to go, assuming that he was not experiencing air hunger before that time.

But the palliative people had dropped the ball concerning having someone with him, and he died alone. I know this because the doctor who informed me that he passed away said that he had been "found" in a deceased (and cold) condition at a certain time, as opposed to anyone witnessing his death, or even knowing the exact time of his death for that matter. Another anomaly is that the time of death on his certificate is not congruent with what I was told that night, being 10 minutes later than the time I was told he was found deceased (and cold).

In a way, I felt so relieved for both of us that I did not even feel his death (much) for a while. However, I was still experiencing so much lingering grief over the late August death of Willma Alcocer (details in the next chapter) that it was hard to feel much if anything else.

Regarding my friend being alone in his last hour on earth, I can only hope that he was in a fog where he could not perceive his surroundings, nor care if he could, much like the fog I was in when I almost bought the farm in September, 2019.

The fact that my friend lived 2.5 months without any dialysis at all shows how close he had come to being successfully weaned off of it. But the HMO was so fixated on getting their way and depriving him of any further dialysis that he had no opportunity to finish safely being weaned off of it.

The bottom line: DON'T use an HMO if you want to SURVIVE such a situation! And, don't use an HMO if you want to keep your POA from being run through the wringer while advocating for you. (And avoid using certain banks, etc., for the same reason.)

He might not have lasted even another year if he'd received success oriented treatment all along, but there is no way to be sure. Regardless, he likely would have had better quality of life in the time he had, and his advocate would have been spared prolonged strife and conention (and related stress) if his health care had not been provided through an HMO - in what proved to be "Medicare DISadvantage" in his case, otherwise known as Medicare Part C.

On a side note, for any who are curious about what the "fog" was like when I almost bought the farm from colon issues in 2019, the short 5-minute film "Dandelion" (also called "DANDELION va") is the closest thing I've found to it, and it also hints at what it was like to be preoccupied with breathing during some of the time I had COVID from late 2020 through early 2021:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMfEkmtyqmY
200618, by Antonio Maria Da Silva AMDSFILMS.
(The same author also made a 2-hour mashup movie called "Dinosaur Hunters".)

The fog was not an out of body thing, and I did not "see" anything like the flying whales and viruses that are in the film. It was more like I was not seeing anything at all. But it did almost seem like another place. A place that I didn't want to leave, because the fog was like a comforting blanket that dulled surgical level abdominal pain from a big lump in the left of my abdomen that was related to weeks of colon paralysis.

The fog was more of an inability to perceive much if anything beyond the edge of my bed, and it made me not care about anything, including the possibility of dying. (That was why I hoped my friend may have experienced a similar kind of fog at the end. Because then, he would not even know or care that he was alone.) I was not on any drug at the time. Not even pain killers, since they could make the paralysis worse.

But as is implied starting at the 3:59 mark in the Dandelion film (where the lady says "I must breathe...I can breathe for real", I had to decide to leave the relative comfort of the fog and come back to the real world. It took about a day and a half to come out of it, and that was when I began to recover from the paralysis. The film was a way to remember the fog without remembering the abdominal pain.

There is NO Apparent Government Oversight of HMO Death Panels:

It seems odd that many states in the USA (and even some entire nations) have gone to great lengths to phase out the death penalty for even the most serious crimes, while at the same time, such states and nations seemingly make it easy for corporations (HMO's) to end the lives of hospital patients via Death Panels, etc.

Such corporations act as though they feel they can secretly withhold care from a hospital patient to the extent that the patient becomes destabilized, then proceed to end that patient's life with impunity. All when such a patient's only "crime" is being old, ill, and/or helpless.

There does not appear to be any oversight of those who direct or implement this deadly practice. There also does not seem to be any government authority that a patient advocate can directly appeal to on behalf of a hospitalized friend or family member, or that can act fast enough to prevent death by death panel. Who can say how many people have died this way in recent years. Thousands? Perhaps even millions? Perhaps even a relative of someone who is reading this?

Blindsided by More Problems, Postmortem:

After my elderly friend passed away in November 2023, the problems continued. For example, the previously purchased "prearranged" funeral plan he had was not so prearranged. It turned out that the burial plots he had were incompatible with the full casket burial that had been arranged.

When his arrangements were made and paid for in April 2023, the cemetery had represented, in writing, that the plots were compatible with the full casket burial prearrangements that were being made. (The process had started months before, but their sales person was slow to answer the few questions I had, and kept making paperwork errors. Also in April, events at the HMO prevented my having time or energy to go to the cemetery in person to make his (prearrangements.) But then the cemetery did not even disclose that there was a problem until NINE DAYS postmortem.

And they would not work toward a reasonable solution after they belatedly disclosed the problem. It was either cremate him or buy a larger plot for a small fortune. Since it was a little late to ask him about cremation, and because his funds could be inaccessible for some time after he passed away (and because I did not then know if Medi-Cal would have a claim on said funds), I had to file a complaint against the cemetery with the State. (I also prayed, as with other difficulties.) The solution was that the cemetery provided a full size burial plot at THEIR expense.

Unfortunately, all of this led to a long delay in his burial (and his death certificate). And he was not interred until 23 January, 2024. Almost two months after he passed away. The cemetery is not named here because the solution was acceptable in terms of what I thought he would have wanted, even though (for me) the matter still resulted in stress, anguish, and a lot of lost time.

Over the previous three years, it had been necessary to file more complaints on behalf of my friend than the sum of all complaints that I'd had to file on my own behalf in my entire lifetime. Some of the organizations seemed to act the way they did because of his age. Others (such as his bank, some in the call center at his credit card company, and a Case Manager at the Pomona area rehab facility) just seemed to enjoy jerking people around. Others (such as the HMO Bioethics Board) seemed motivated by money or control issues. In other words: Willful acts. Only rarely did problems seem to arise from simple incompetence.


Summary of Leading Causes of Problems in Managing My (Late) Friend's Affairs:

Almost all of the numerous problems related to managing my friend's affairs arose from three major circumstances and about four lesser circumstances. Of these, the three most significant circumstances caused more than 2/3 of the increased work load and stress, and could have even contributed to my friend's death. These circumstances are summarized below.

The THREE Most Significant Circumstances (His Bank, HMO, Advance Directive):

  1. His health plan was an HMO. An HMO with a Bioethics Board that presumed to act as a Death Panel when they did not want to utilize certain resources for a patient. This was the single biggest contributor to his perishing in 2023. Possibly an even a bigger contributor than his condition would have been if he had instead been treated in a success oriented way. The Death Panel is the main reason that all of this is covered in this "eclipse" web page. DEATH PANELS are REAL (tin foil does not apply here), and people have a right to know.
  2. His Advance Directive (from over a decade earlier) said DO NOT prolong life. HOWEVER, in his final year, he consistently indicated that he DID want to prolong life. BUT the HMO would not recognize it, saying that because had been declared incapacitated BEFORE he indicated a desire to prolong life, his indicated desire was NOT valid to them. (But the fact was that the nature of his incapacity had little if any effect on his ability to know what he wanted.) The HMO also did not recognize that he was responsive EVERY day I saw him. They just didn't make much EFFORT to solicit or identify responses from him. (But most facilities other than the HMO did solicit and identify responses.)
  3. Almost all of his funds were in Bank of America, and this bank would NOT fully honor his POA documents (when other institutions would). When this bank BELATEDLY, but only PARTIALLY, honored his POA documents (for only one account), they BACK DATED the related NOTARIZED DOCUMENTS, then represented the BACK DATED date as the ACTUAL date to Federal authorities, in order to dispose of my complaint against them. Even after more than three years, they still have not fully honored his POA documents or allowed access to all of his accounts. They never provided statements either, though they did later provide a way to check his balances by phone or online. The bank's long delays also caused a two month delay in my friend's cancer treatment, ultimately contributing to his death. If you choose the wrong BANK and later become incapacitated, that decision can KILL you! As far as harm to me personally, this BANK is tied at the top of the list.
A great deal of evidence exists for what the HMO did to my friend. Unfortunately, it seemed that few if any agencies had mechanisms to keep the HMO from harming my friend in the ways described above, or to sanction the HMO for doing the same after the fact. My friend, who is the party that experienced the greatest harm at the hands of the HMO, did not survive the experience.

If the HMO cannot be held accountable for what they did to my friend (and by extension, to me), there is nothing to keep them from doing the same thing to other patients and their advocates. The same would go for his bank, since the CFPB proved to be a paper tiger that accomplished nothing.

FOUR of the Next Most Significant Circumstances (Banks, His Creditors, His Cemetery):

  1. My friend had a reverse mortgage, and the reverse mortgage company threatened to foreclose on his condo before it could be sold, even though they had no legal standing to foreclose until he was out of his condo for a continuous year for medical reasons. I sought legal counsel, which indicated: The company had delayed honoring his POA documents, and I had no contract with a party that had not honored his POA documents. I thus had no obligation to disclose his residency status to the company. Therefore, his condo was sold for him without informing the company until the reverse mortgage was paid off at closing.
  2. He was taken to the cleaners by a plumbing company a few months before his incapacity, and (for a problem the HOA should have fixed) the plumbers charged him so much that he got a line of credit with Synchrony to pay the bill. After he became incapacitated, Bank of America's MONTHS of delay in even partially honoring his POA documents resulted in the plumbing debt being delinquent and going to collection before his funds became accessible. Even before this, the company would not let me speak to anyone in the USA. Calls were apparently routed to one of two Asian call centers, and one call center would say the other was illegitimate, and that I should not fax documents to the other. The second call center said the same about the first. After months of this call center nonsense, I moved on to work on other things, then paid off my friend's debt in a lump sum after his condo was sold. The company's Asian call centers pulling customers into their apparent feuds with each other was unacceptable, and I canceled the credit card that I had with the same company. If I was later incapacitated, I would not want my POA to have to go through the same thing!
  3. My friend's cellular service and land line phone bills became delinquent while Bank of America had refused and delayed POA access to his funds for months, so his phone services were disconnected. After funds in one of his B of A accounts finally became accessible, I called the company to pay his bill and cancel his service, but I was always connected to a call center in Asia. And the call center said that I could NOT cancel his service. They said that when his bill was paid, they were going to retroactively charge him for the time AFTER his service was disconnected. They also would not connect me to anyone in the USA. They would not budge, so I did NOT pay his bill, as that was the only leverage against proposed illegitimate charges. After months of this nonsense, I filed a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), and a Vice President of the phone company later resolved the issue. The Asian call center had prevented resolution of this for months.
  4. His cemetery sold a prearranged full casket burial for a burial space that was to small to be compatible, but had represented in writing that the burial space was compatible with full casket burial before arrangements were paid for. The problem was not disclosed until over a week postmortem. The cemetery ultimately provided a compatible burial space at their own expense to resolve this. But it was stressful and led to a two month delay in his interment. The cause appeared to be that a cemetery sales person who worked remotely had failed to actually look at cemetery records before she wrote that his burial space was large enough. And of course, after he passed away, it was too late to ask him if alternative arrangements compatible with a small burial space (such as cremation) would be acceptable to him.

HARM Caused By B of A's Failure to Timely or Fully Honor My Friend's POA Documents:

  • Was the SOLE cause of a TWO MONTH delay in my friend's cancer surgeries.
  • Cancer growth during this delay required that most of his surgeries be more invasive, and his surgeries could not be grouped together as much as they could have been otherwise.
  • One of the more invasive surgeries (required to do the delay) disfigured his face.
  • Bank delay contributed to hastening my friend's death, as noted in chapters above.
  • Prevented funds in his savings from being used for his prearranged funeral at his cemetery.
  • Required that his condo be sold at least four months sooner than would have otherwise been necessary, in order to pay for his care and his fall 2021 bills. This caused the process to be rushed, prevented having an estate sale on site at his condo, and handling his stuff during the rush caused a lower back injury that is still a problem.
  • By the time my freind's bank even partially honored his POA documents on ONE account in late March 2021 (so I could pay his bills), several of his bills had gone to collection. This added complexity that could not be resolved for months.
  • Bank requiring people to wait in line outside in 2021 radically worsened the light sensitivity aspect of my medical condition (rapid sunburning) for years. (It is still a problem even now.)
  • All of the time required for up to 30 contacts related to the bank delayed or prevented doing other things for my friend, and adequately keeping up with my own affairs.
  • Prevented buying a house in an area I wanted to move to while home prices were still low.
  • Imposed a lot of stress and caused extreme fatigue. And it still isn't over.

HARM Caused by the HMO Death Panel (Bioethics Board): Only a partial list.

  • Care withheld by the Board before the Board's death decree worsened my friend's condition.
  • Board's withholding dialysis before my friend could be transferred (and the Board secretly withholding other care) caused my friend to go back on a ventilator for the rest of his life.
  • The above, and his developing a huge pressure sore at the HMO, reduced quality of life.
  • The April 2023 Death Panel ruling was used by the HMO to deny dialysis to my friend in September, after he had weaned off off it enough to be making over a liter of urine per day, and maintaining normal test results for a week or more after isolated dialysis sessions. One HMO doctor said the HMO was going to see to it that "what should have happened" in May (i.e. my friend's death) would happen in the near term. This denial of dialysis (and one minor procedure) caused my friend's DEATH ten weeks later, on 29 November 2023.
  • Imposed so much urgent work (trying to find a place to transfer my friend) and caused so much stress that my heath failed due to exhaustion in May 2023. (Still haven't receovered.)
  • Recurring effects from the Board's death decree put me under incredible stress for months.
  • Prevented being able to leave town to visit family, etc., for the rest of my friend's life.
  • Prevented bringing my dad from my brother's place to his house and caring for him there.
  • Continued exhaustion was the sole reason I was unable to drive to the 2024 eclipse myself.

As noted earlier in this journal, the contentious or otherwise difficult parties mentioned above are by no means all of the parties that had to be dealt with, and even dealing with the sum of these parties did not represent anywhere near all of the work that was required for my friend.

Other difficult parties were, or were related to, the following:

The property management company associated with my friend's HOA, his car insurance, the plumbing company that had taken him to the cleaners (Rapid Plumbing would not provide suitable evidence of work needed for my friend to receive a prevailing rate reimbursement from the HOA); the title company used for sale of his condo, the CFPB, his substitute social worker in late March 2021, one Medi-Cal worker (she was only a problem from July 2023 until my friend's death, but this played a role in his death); HMO doctors who made unsolicited calls to pressure me without providing any status on my friend; some hospitals and facilities I contacted to see if my friend could be transferred to them (after the HMO's Death Panel sentence, and while the HMO was interfering in transfer inquiries, when it was the HMO that should have made these contacts, as they said doctors have to authorize transfers between hospitals); law firms I contacted to see if I could hire them to seek a court order to keep the HMO Bioethics Board from withholding care to the point of death (the firms apparently were not interested in preventing harm), and the congregate home he was in during part of May of 2023 (they effectively raised their rate $500 per day after he arrived there, yet they failed to get him to his first dialysis session). His CPA was problematic, but for a different reason: She was looking into if he had to file tax returns one year, but permanently dropped off the radar a few days before the filing deadline.

Parties that were more or less neutral (but some still required time to deal with) included:

His gas, electric, and water utilities; the county his condo was located in, his satellite TV, people who bought some of his stuff, a couple of medical facilities I contacted regarding transfer of my friend after the HMO Death Panel sentence; his primary care doctor at his HMO, one of his attending physicians at the first HMO hospital, one case manager and at least two nurses at the first HMO hospital; the company that negotiated his Medi-Cal application, one dialysis clinic in NW Los Angeles, most medical transport contacts, Medi-Cal (other than the one worker noted above), some aspects of Medicare, the California A.G. (regarding a complaint about my friend's bank back dating notarized documents, then reporting the false date to the CFPB); and the skilled nursing facility my friend was in from mid to late 2023.

The most agreeable and/or fair parties included the following:

The board and care home my friend was in from spring 2021 through early 2023, the care home placement coordinator, the success oriented hospital in NW Los Angeles (and just about everyone there), my friend's regular social worker at the HMO hospital in early 2021, most members of the palliative care team at a non-HMO hospital in Los Angeles, different aspects of Medicare, patient advocates I met along the way, his credit union, his realtor, his attorney, my neighbor (who loaded and unloaded the last load of my friend's stuff after my back went out); and the different bank that was used for the proceeds from his condo.

It was an unexpected and wild three-year ride, in which I encountered hundreds of different people while representing and advocating for my friend.

There are still some loose ends. But other than those caused by my (now late) friend's original bank, most remaining loose ends are still open because I have not had the alertness or energy to deal with them, or because I was unable to travel to address matters that can only be dealt with in person.


Relative Priorities: Eclipses don't care if you see them, but friends do.

All of the above obviously has nothing to do with eclipses (other than delying preparations for one), but it shows that I had responsibilities that were far more important than a total solar eclipse. And it shows that contentious third parties needlessly made it all many times more difficult than it should have been. Business with those parties will be avoided as much as possible from now on.

In the end, my friend had at least 6 months and 13 days (perhaps as much as 8 months and 15 days) more life than he would have had if his HMO had been allowed to have their way without resistance. A total solar eclipse does not hold a candle to that.

An eclipse does not care if anyone is there to see it.
But a friend cares if you are there for them.

Also, I had become acquainted with a few other patient advocates along the way, and the fellowship of patient advocates is a sweet one, possibly because there are so few of them. When this journey began, I had no idea that I would end up being a patient advocate, or how grueling, yet rewarding, being an advocate can be.

And it was a way to make a difference, even if just for one person. On my 1994 eclipse trip to Bolivia, I had met Willma Alcocer. She was then a director at a primary school in Cochabamba. She was person who made a difference in many people's lives. And knowing her, even briefly, made me want to make a difference too. A difference far beyond anything to do with eclipses.

In addition to the above, many difficult things had been happening concurrently. One of these difficult things was that Willma Alcocer passed away in August 2023, only two weeks before she was going to legally relocate to the USA - and to a place only 20 miles from where I live.


Several Other Friends Pass Away:

On 22 August, 2023, Willma Alcocer, one of the most remarkable people I had ever met, and one of the parties to whom I had dedicated my 1994 eclipse journal (and my 1997 story "Syzygy"), passed away in Bolivia. We first met in Bolivia during my solo expedition to the 3 Nov. 1994 total solar eclipse. She was then a director at a primary school in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

In more recent times, she had retired, and had been trying to legally relocate to the USA for years, but encountered red tape. Then her health became an issue, in that she became too weak to travel. She had heart surgery in 2018 to become strong enough to make the trip, but had a long recovery.

But then came COVID, and with it, overreaction and power grabs by many liberal governments. The Biden Administration in the USA imposed a Vaccine Mandate (only for legal immigrants) that was not lifted until May of 2023. She was not going to get the COVID vaccine because a family member in her generation had apparently died from a large amount of clotting - only a week after being vaccinated.

Willma was finally going to move to the USA in early September, 2023, and one of her younger sisters had gone down to Bolivia to prepare her for the move and accompany her to the USA.

But she died only two weeks before she was going to move to the USA, to her sister's home, which was only 20 miles from me. AND, it was found that one of the same political people who was a problem for both of us in 1994 (see my 1994 total solar eclipse journal for details) allegedly contributed to her death by doing things that stressed her for a prolonged period of time.

The COVID vaccine mandate had apparently delayed her move to the USA by at least two years. Another way of putting it is: If a less authoritarian Administration had been elected in the USA back in 2020, I would have seen Willma again. But there were a lot of if's in this matter.

I was a basket case for months after Willma died, at a time so close to when she was going to move here. Apathy was one of the things that accompanied the grief, and this made it harder to stand up for my friend against his HMO, or do anything else.

Dealing with my friend's HMO was particularly difficult during the worst of the grief over Willma's death. If my voice broke while speaking with the HMO, they seemed to see it as weakness, and then they would aggressively pile on pressure and try to get me flustered. The people at the HMO who did that (especially those who acted as though they had been in the CCP), were absolutely heartless.

One example (out of several such incidents) was when an HMO doctor (the same doctor who had said the HMO was going to finish what it started concerning withholding dialysis from my friend) heatedly pressed about what I thought would make my friend's quality of life worthwhile. I mentioned that his improving enough to be rolled out onto sunlight on the skilled nursing facility patio would make a difference for him, since sitting in the sun was one thing he'd liked to do all along.

To this, the HMO doctor scoldingly replied that it was completely unrealistic to expect that my friend would return to a board and care home where he could be go out into the sun. But I had NOT said anything about going back to a board and care home. What I said was clearly in the context of rolling him onto the roof patio at the skilled nursing facility he'd been at all summer, and that the HMO was going to discharge him back to. The HMO doctor had twisted that and jumped to his own uninformed conclusions, probably in attempts to trip me up or make himself feel justified in withholding care.

That was the sort of illogic I had to deal with in almost every call to or from my friend's HMO. And besides, if my friend chose to prolong life when informed about his likely prospects, and when prolonging is feasible from a medical standpoint, my role as his POA is to support him in that. Neither the HMO or I get to decide what is worthwhile to him in regard to prolonging life.

To counter these HMO attempts to pressure me or trip me up, I had to be "cried out" over Willma's death shortly before interacting with the HMO on a given day. So, I found combinations of music and pictures of Willma that would set off rain, and would go through that anguish before calling the HMO (or before when I anticipated they would call me). This probably led to more sadness, and more rain than would otherwise have fallen, but the nature of the HMO made it necessary.

Sometimes, it is OK to be broken when one so precious as Willma has left this earth, especially under the circumstances she endured. And even though it hurts.
- It is then easier to acknowledge our helplessness, and just do what a helpless person can do, which is next to nothing. And to grieve and pray. And to leave any recompense to Him.
- Because when God puts together what is broken, it can become better than before it was broken.
- He is the ONLY cure for sorrow, pain, and brokenness from such loss.
- I don't know much Spanish any more, but sometimes it is a better language to say things such as:
- Confiando en Dios. Aunque la vida duela. Solo Dios es fiel.
- Lyrics in the Roberto Orellana song "La Paz de Dios" include the phrase: "Busca la paz y olvida el enojo" (Seek peace and forget anger). [Cut and paste link into browser to see the music video:]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC3294YejkQ (200501, Roberto Orellana) 5:13
- When broken and submissive before the Lord, this seems more reasonable, and can help lead to at least some restoration of inner peace.

After intensity of the grief became less severe, I found the Tomas Ocampo song "Valle de Lagrimas" (Valley of Tears) to be both comforting and descriptive of the previous year's experience as POA for my friend. During all of that, intense times or prayer, and sometimes tears, had indeed preceded the victories. Because the HMO posed a recurring threat to my friend, each victory was only temporary. But each victory was a victory nonetheless, because it at least bought him more days of life, which is what he indicated he wanted. This song (with its lyrics) is at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZa8NJ9eWJA (210921, Tomas Ocampo Oficial) 3:31
The application of this song was especially true of the emotive 2022 recording of it by Digna Meza, (now formerly) of Ministerio Eliab in Peru:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bQPC3vHamg (220827, Digna Meza Vera) 11:27
The version below was not interrupted by the LOUD ads that distracted from the above link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN5jXeVM8GA (230521) 11:28

As the grief over Willma's passing subsided a little more, I found that the lightheartedness of the music video of the song "Espiritu Santo Te Necesito" (and certain other songs) by the Bolivian Christian singer Wilma Ticona was comforting while in the troughs between waves. The corny (in a good way) sounding (though a bit repetitive on the bass) accompaniment, and the jumping up and down during the song, seemed cheerful at a time when cheerfulness finally became helpful. For any who care to see the music video, it is at this URL:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1_UuoGYE50 (121129, Ismael Pacco) 5:13
- Some of her other music videos seemed similarly cheerful, though most had fewer calisthenics.
- I had not been a fan of energetic of music videos like this before the grief, but liked it after the worst of the grief was over; perhaps because it helped keep me from falling back into the pit of deeper grief. This may sound odd, but sometimes, making cheerful spiritual music that lifts someone's spirits can be serious business. It can help a person get their life back, through getting out (and staying out) of a pit of deeper grief. There is probably a spirtual component to this.
- Unfortunately, dozens of her music videos were taken down in early 2024, and only some were re-posted on other channels. Many songs were re-posted as audio only, to still photos of notional album covers. Just hearing the audio of certain songs didn't seem to have as much positive effect, but was better than nothing. I'd buy her CD's or DVD's (and some from the "Fuego y Sanidad" group she was later in up through at least 2019), but these don't seem to be available.
- One of the later, calmer songs is this one by Fuego y Sanidad, which includes drone video of Angel Falls and Iguaz Falls. It is linked because some of their other videos (not linked here) have numerous added bright white full screen flashes that could potentially trigger seizures in some.
- Ticona, Wilma (Fuego y Sanidad): Separado de ti nada puedo hacer Jesus (Apart from you I can do nothing, Jesus.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzIx0EFGB0A (190102,mli/ng) 7:45

As for eclipses: For almost six months after Willma's death, I didn't care at all about eclipses. In fact, since I'd met her on an eclipse trip, and eclipses reminded me of her, I almost DIDN'T WANT to see another eclipse during the worst months of the grief. However, this had no effect on whether I could go to an eclipse, or even prepare for one: I then could do neither because of responsibility for my friend, plus two months of problems with the cemetery that followed his passing.

Besides Willma Alcocer, three other people I knew, including the friend for whom I was POA, and my late mom's best friend since her school days - had also died in the span of only a few months. During the same period of time, I also belatedly learned that my astronomer friend German Morales (of ASO in Bolivia) had passed away.

Return to Local Table of Contents


Picking Up Where I Left Off in Late 2020 on Eclipse Prep - 3 Years Later, in Early 2024:


By early February 2024, the grief had become less debilitating, in large part due to the kind support of one of Willma's nieces. This niece probably had no idea what was in store when she kindly informed me that Willma passed away back in August of 2023, and I did not then know the depths that grief would take me to either. It was over a week before it hit me full force. But she stayed in touch through all of it, and I am grateful to her for it. No one else made even close to as much difference as she did.

One prescription for blood pressure had also held me back, by increasing apathy and causing lack of initiative, but it was discontinued after my pulse rate went too low for an extended time.

After all of this, I began to have some initiative again, and I half-heartedly resumed preparing for the 2024 total solar eclipse. When it became apparent that I WOULD be able to finish the eclipse experiment and imaging setup in time, I pursued it with more purpose.

From that point on, I DID again want to go to the 2024 total solar eclipse. I had long wanted to see this eclipse, and being apathetic about it was only temporary. Total solar eclipses had long been a priority when I could get to them. (One might gather that from my eclipsechaser.com web site!)

But also, each total solar eclipse I had observed after the stressful 1994 eclipse trip had helped dilute bad memories of the 1994 impositions of a failed local politician and his rich cronies, the serious illness that resulted (which required increased surgery to correct), and the same people interfering with my 1994 eclipse program and southern sky observations. And most of all, their opposition to Willma Alcocer's work, and their severely limiting time that she and I could have together; not to mention the ability of one of them to screen her calls, mail, and visitors later on.

However, the state of exhaustion that began during advocacy for my friend in May 2023 was still an issue, in that I lacked stamina to drive even a fraction of the distance required to get to the 2024 total solar eclipse path. The 2024 symptoms were remarkably similar to symptoms of exhaustion that resulted from unexpected impositions of the failed politician and rich men in Bolivia some 30 years earlier (see my 1994 eclipse journal for details). The notable exception is that I did not have the painful prolapse problem in 2024.

But in 2023 and 2024, one of my doctors said that it could take at least a month of bed rest, followed by appropriate exercise, to regain much stamina, etc. It was not until the summer of 2024 that things began to wind down enough that this much rest may be possible. One thing is for sure: To date, stamina has not not returned in the absence of a lot of rest.

Also, the April 2024 eclipse setup and associated luggage was too large and heavy for me to handle in an airport or bring on an airplane, being the equivalent of seven large carry on bags and weighing about 250 pounds in total. I also had a medical lifting restriction that prevented handling more than one small carry on item myself. And even for that, I usually had to put such an item on the seat of a 4-wheel rollator walker to move it very far. This made flying alone all but impossible.

In the End, Missing the 2024 Eclipse Came Down to Unreliability of a Telecomm. Company:

The search was on for a ride to Texas to see the eclipse. By 18 March, I had composed messages (in text files) to ask several people I knew if they, or someone they knew, could either take me and my eclipse setup to the eclipse, or be a driver to get my car there.

That night, I was only hours from sending these messages out when my Phone AND Internet (BOTH by Frontier) went down. And both of these stayed down for NINE DAYS. I had no way to communicate with anyone except via a Tracfone I had acquired for the trip, but its number was unfamiliar to people I could reach only by phone. I also did not know the phone numbers of many of my other friends and contacts, and only had their email. The excuses Frontier provided for not being "able" to timely restore service were way out there, and are covered below.

In the end, it became CERTAIN that I WOULD HAVE made it to the eclipse IF the Frontier outage had been only a few days shorter (that is, less than a week of continuous outage, as opposed to nine days). It all came down to the amount of lead time one of the otherwise available drivers would have had to give his employer in order to get time off work to go to the eclipse.

Also, the hours of time required on my Tracfone, to try to get Frontier to act - was time that could have otherwise been spent resting and physically getting ready for the eclipse trip. If that time had not been lost, it would have also been possible to go with a last minute BACKUP plan for a driver. This was a last minute backup only because the driver's contact could not be reached while Frontier services (BOTH phone AND Internet) were down.

In order for the last minute backup driver to work out, I would have had to be ready to go a full day earlier than I was. (The eclipse equipment was ready in time for that, but preparations related to accommodating my medical condition (including limiting exposure to light) while on the road were not finished.) It certainly would have been possible to be ready one day earlier if so much time had not been lost to Frontier. So that's TWO ways to get to the eclipse lost due to Frontier.

But Frontier had NO sense of urgency in restoring service, even for a disabled person. And because they apparently have a MONOPOLY on the lines here, they would restore service when they felt like it. And when they felt like it was a few days TOO LATE to make it possible to arrange a ride (with my equipment) to the 2024 eclipse.

For this reason, Frontier's excuses (and the implications their claimed reasons for not being able to timely restore service could have on their ability (or inability) to restore service if there was a natural disaster that caused widespread outages) are immortalized below. The harm was irreparable, in that I will be older when other total solar eclipses occur, and those likely to occur in my lifetime are only observable from other countries. All of this would make future total eclipses much more difficult (and expensive) to get to.

In the grand scheme of things, the matter of Frontier's unreliable service is obviously far less important than having had to advocate for my (now late) friend against parties including an HMO death panel back in 2023. And it is also obviously of far less importance than the fact that others I knew died in 2023 and early 2024.

However, since this is an eclipse journal (at least in name; eclipse stuff starts about 40 percent of the way through this web page) the Frontier issue is covered in detail because it was the only thing that prevented me from reaching the path of totality in 2024. With great difficulty, all other obstacles to getting to the 2024 total solar eclipse had been overcome, but then Frontier blew it in the final weeks.

It could cost up to tens of thousands of dollars (that I can't responsibly spend) to get myself and my equipment to a suitable foreign eclipse site, since that would require funding assistants to register all of the instrumentation with U.S. Customs, then get all of it to a future foreign eclipse of sufficient duration. On a foreign trip, it would also be difficult (though not impossible) to fully black out rooms I sleep in, and limit sunlight exposure to the extent advisable for my condition.

Had I been able to get to the domestic 2024 total solar eclipse, I could have handled all of the equipment myself (using my rollator walker to move each box or case), and my brother (who was at the same motel I had reservations at) could have helped move stuff if I was weaker than usual.

Unfortunately, such a favorable scenario is not possible at a foreign eclipse. Assistants would be required to get myself, eclipse instruments, and a rollator walker to a foreign total solar eclipse. (Of course, if Frontier wants to fund all that is needed for me to transport and use the equipment at a foreign eclipse of sufficient duration, to partially compensate for their long outage...)

After all of the catching up that followed more than three years of lost time, it all came down to the unreliability of a telecommunications company (Frontier) in the weeks before the 2024 eclipse.

And a telecommunications debacle shortly before a total solar eclipse was eerily similar to what had happened 30 years earlier, right before the stressful 1994 eclipse trip to Bolivia. Except for one important difference: The 1994 telecommunications debacle did not prevent the 1994 eclipse trip!

All I have to show for my 2024 efforts in eclipse planning, motel reservations, etc., is a $229.98 charge on my credit card for having to cancel my 3-day reservations of two rooms, on the day before I would have otherwise arrived in Waco, TX, plus a similar penalty for late property taxes.

It WAS Adequately Clear at the Site I Selected in Waco, TX.

My brother in Colorado was able to go to the path of totality, and he stayed at the same motel where I had reservations. He and my 94 year old Dad both observed the eclipse from there, as I would have. The motel grounds were better for my applications than the McLane Stadium grounds (for which I had written the eclipse procedure) would have been.

And, it was adequately CLEAR there during the entire duration of totality! There were high, thin clouds, but they were very thin. Almost a full solar diameter of corona (with a lot of structure) was visible all the way around the moon, with more than a solar diameter of corona being visible in two directions. The boundary of the lunar umbra was not visible from there during mid totality due to low clouds near the horizon, but the corona was visible.

So, it is almost certain that I would have obtained good results from all six corona cameras in the setup (including extreme close up video of second and third contact) if I had been there. Those who would have wanted to see such material have Frontier Communications to thank for the lack of it.

Photos and descriptions of equipment (for the total eclipse) are included in this web page, as are visible and H-Alpha photos of the partial eclipse, as seen from L.A. It is hoped that the good performance I got from the equipment (and surprisingly, from myself) during test runs (for the total eclipse) will be added as an Appendix within a few months of the eclipse date.

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Similarities Between the 1994 and 2024 Solar Eclipses (and what preceded them)

Similarities Between the 1994 and 2024 Eclipses (and related trips) include that the paths of totality relative to the solar azimuth were similar. But differences included the solar elevation angle and the absolute direction that the umbra moved.

The motion of the 2024 umbra with respect to the solar azimuth was similar that of 1994, except that the relative direction of motion for the umbra is reversed in 2024. This was expected to cause the most impressive views of the 2024 umbra to occur during and after totality.

There were other similarities between 1994 and 2024, but these were more down to earth. The eclipse expeditions planned for both years were preceded by highly disruptive problems with telecommunication companies (Excel in 1994 and Frontier in 2024) - to such an extent that it impacted each expedition. But the 2024 fiasco was worse because it prevented the expedition.

The Telecommunications Debacle of October 1994 (Excel):

Shortly before my 1994 eclipse trip to Bolivia, my MCI phone service was "slammed" to a different carrier without my consent - TWICE! I did not learn of the change until I got the bill (with exorbitant phone rates) from the new and unfamiliar carrier in October. This meant that the unauthorized carrier change had happened in September or perhaps earlier.

After some investigation, it was found that an unethical sales person, whom I had never even spoken to (and at a company I had never spoken to), unilaterally changed my phone service from MCI to AT&T. Then, almost immediately, it was changed again from AT&T to a company I had never even heard of called Excel.

It was barely possible to change my phone service back to MCI before I left for Bolivia. However, all of this required a LOT of time that had been set aside for rest and final preparations.

Further, all of this rendered my MCI International calling card unusable. And it was not possible to get a new MCI International calling card in time for the trip. This increased per-minute phone call cost from Bolivia by a factor of three or four over what it would have been otherwise.

Worse, the considerable time lost to this 1994 telecommunications debacle prevented getting enough rest immediately before the expedition, which in turn made my health more susceptible to the unexpected political nonsense (from the brother of a 1993 Bolivian Presidential candidate and his rich cronies) that was unexpectedly encountered - starting on my first day in Bolivia.

Specifically, being spent at the beginning of the trip made my more health susceptible to sleep deprivation and exhaustion from political impositions that prevented much sleep or rest during my first three days and two nights in Bolivia. After that, I was very ill for the rest of the trip (including during the eclipse), and surgery was required afterward. (Details are in my 1994 eclipse journal.)

Following the 1994 eclipse expedition, I sought to settle the Excel bill in a way which had a per-minute charge that was equivalent to MCI's rates. (There was ZERO chance that I was going to pay the full (high) amount of the bill, since it was for service at a carrier I had not authorized.)

After discussions with Excel, they were going to charge only what MCI would have charged, but only if I documented what the MCI charges would have been for every call on the phone bill, and that was a LOT of phone calls. That was a ridiculous amount of documentation, given that I did not make or authorize the switch from MCI to their company. And I didn't have time for all of that.

Ultimately, they relented and said that I didn't have to pay the bill at all. This may have been partly because they acknowledged that the unethical sales person who slammed my phone service to their company worked for them.

More detail on this (and the 1994 eclipse itself, plus the Bolivian political intrigue that I was involuntarily exposed to back then) is in Section 1 of my "Eclipse Chaser's Journal, Part 3, The Wild One: Total Solar Eclipse of November 3, 1994", at the eclipsechaser.com web site.

The Telecommunications Debacle of March 2024 (Frontier):

In 2024, a sudden and LONG outage of my Phone AND Internet service, BOTH by Frontier Communications, began late on the night of 18 March 2024 - only about two weeks before I needed to leave for the 2024 eclipse. I had to travel by road due to the amount of equipment.

This LONG outage was a BIG problem, because I was then temporarily not strong enough to be comfortable driving myself to Texas, or even across town for that matter. Therefore, I was communicating online to see if a combined trip could be arranged with another observer in my area. However, the sudden and complete failure of Frontier's Internet service pulled the rug right out from under this, just as as I had almost finished composing messages to a number of people.

The long outage of BOTH Phone AND Internet service by Frontier Communications, and the fact that they would not even provide an estimate for when service may be restored (or any type of alternative service during the outage), posed an extreme risk to the 2024 eclipse expedition.

This was an expedition that required hundreds of hours to prepare for over a period of years, not to mention the considerable funds required. (The above part of this paragraph, and the previous paragraph, were written during the Frontier outage, before it became apparent that the outage would persist so long that it prevented the 2024 eclipse expedition.)

In addition to eclipse related matters, the Frontier outage made it impossible to communicate with my doctors on their patient portals during a fairly critical time. The long Frontier outage also resulted in my property taxes (which I pay online) being late for what might be the FIRST time ever, and penalties for that cost as much as what two months of Frontier (non) service would cost.

As of when this was written (offline) after close to a week of the Frontier outage, Frontier had shown no concern for the difficulty their LONG outage (described below) was causing, even though they had repeatedly been made aware of the importance and urgency of the situation, and that I was disabled. In fact, they would not even provide an estimate for when service would be restored. (Other than a promised time of restored service that they failed to meet three days into the outage.)

Therefore, if the long March 2024 outage by Frontier (which was still ongoing at the time this was composed offline), contributes significantly to not being able to physically get myself and the eclipse equipment to the 2024 total solar eclipse, it will have obviously prevented getting photos, video, and experiment results at the total eclipse. In that situation, a description of Frontier's actions will be a permanent part of this 2024 eclipse web page. (And now, after the fact, it is such.)

This material is also included here because posting it here may be the only practical way to timely provide information for a consumer complaint to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that I can steer authorities toward. The only way of communicating with them would all too often be by speaking on my Tracfone. (Ironically, since Frontier's Internet service is so unreliable, I can't count in it being available to file an online complaint. This is because filing online complaints (and timely replying to those who respond) requires reliable Internet access. But part of a complaint against Frontier would be about long outages in Internet access that last over a week!)

Nine Consecutive Days without Frontier Internet OR Land Line Phone in March, 2024:

It was only possible to upload this web page shortly after the Frontier outage because it was written offline. It was possible to upload a draft shortly after service was at long last restored, several hours short of NINE DAYS of outage. Internet service resumed just as I was about to briefly have limited Internet access via a third party. The Frontier outage lasted until 27 March.

My medical situation did not do well during the outage, possibly due to effects of a prescription. However, I could not communicate with a doctor's office about it via their online patient portal due to the Frontier Internet service outage. (Phone calls to them did not get a response.) Therefore, I eventually had to unilaterally stop taking the blood pressure prescription that I suspected was making my symptoms worse. (It appears that the prescription was causing weakness, but I am not back to where I was before I was put on it prior to the Frontier outage. I might have been able to go off of it sooner if I'd been able to reach my doctors via patient portals during Frontier's outage.)

A long outage of both Internet AND phone was and is a big deal for a disabled person who (at the time) was not even up to driving to a nearby store during the outage. There was not even a dial tone, so even calling 911 from my home phone (had that been necessary) was not possible.

Details About the LONG 3/2024 Frontier Outage, and its Consequences:

Details about the LONG Frontier Outage and the hardship it has caused, and the complexity it continued to cause, follows. It will remain a permanent part of this journal because it DID prevent being able to get to the 2024 total eclipse. And it is known with near certainty that I COULD have made it to the path of totality if the long Frontier outage had been at least 2-3 days shorter.

The extended Frontier outage also prevented ordering last minute items that my equipment tests had shown would be beneficial, and it prevented the above mentioned important matter of follow up on arranging transportation.

More importantly, the Frontier outage has held up specifying the final details on a grave marker for a late friend, as well as the above noted communicating with my own doctors via their patient portals, etc. There were a myriad of other things that the long Frontier outage also interfered with.

Due to years of being Power of Attorney for a (now late) incapacitated elderly friend, and having to deal with many contentious parties in the process, it had not been possible to complete preparations for the 2024 eclipse equipment very far in advance. And other aspects of the planned expedition were similarly affected.

In addition to this, my health was temporarily in a state where I was not expecting that I would be able to make the three day drive to the eclipse myself (as noted above). I had not by then found a way to travel with someone else, though I had begun writing communications related to that just before the Frontier outage.

Also, it was almost impossible to find and book a plane ticket without being able to go online or physically travel somewhere to arrange it (which I also could not do at the time). Also, I was not sure I was even physically up to traveling solo on a plane. And the eclipse setup was too large to take on a plane in carry on bags (not to mention needing a rollator walker with a seat to move baggage on at an airport), and I lacked enough large bags that allowed adequate space for padding, not to mention that I could not ferry that many bags around myself, being handicapped and all.

Lack of Internet service also meant lack of email. And because I did not then have phone numbers or street addresses for most people I had communicated with by email, there was no way to look into a joint trip while Frontier's services for BOTH phone and Internet were not working.

The fact that telecommunications company has "an outage" isn't the problem. However, the fact that Frontier Communications had such a LONG outage of MULTIPLE services for MORE than a WEEK, and that they had no sense of urgency in disclosing or correcting the outage (even for a disabled customer), which was also due to their lines, WAS a problem.

Complacency of an Apparent Regional Telecommunications Monopoly:

Verizon/Frontier appear to more or less have a MONOPOLY on the lines in my area, so they have tended to do what they please, without regard to customer needs (including the need to use online portals with my doctors, and the urgency of the eclipse), which they were repeatedly informed of.

When, after about four days of outage, Frontier was pressed on the matter of even estimating a date of restored service, the excuses they came up with defied even the imagination. Their nonsensical excuses are included below partly for the entertainment value.

All calls to Frontier were apparently answered by call centers in Asia, and when people there could not solve the problem, they refused to connect me with anyone in the USA who potentially could.

When Frontier was first contacted (via my old Trac flip phone) on Tuesday, 19 March (right after I became aware that BOTH the phone and Internet had ceased working, which was about 12 hours after I found that Internet service stopped), they said they would have to send a person to my house. However, they said that it would be two more days before that person would arrive.

I had not contacted Frontier in the few hours after I noticed that the Internet service had gone out (when Internet was the only outage I was aware of) because Frontier's Internet service had always been unreliable. It has frequently cut out for several seconds to a few minutes at a time, several times each day, and outages lasting an hour or more had happened every now and then. So, initially, I thought it was just another (brief, but all too typical) Frontier Internet outage.

While on the subject of performance, the speed of Frontier Internet service was only a fraction of the 8-15 mbps speed they charged for, and it often struggled to stream even 720p video, with the video all too often pausing while "circle of death" spun in the middle of the screen. (I had been waiting for Starlink to become available in my area before making a switch away from Frontier.)

Frontier did some sort of remote check where they had me unplug both the phone and the router, and they then said that they thought it was their line. But they also emphasized that the issue might be with wiring in the house. However, they would not schedule a technician visit until two days later.

(The box that Frontier had installed outside the house lacked an accessible phone connector (as older phone boxes used to have). If it had not lacked this connector, I could have connected phone to where their box connects to the house, to determine whether lines in the house were involved.)

When I arranged the tech appointment, I repeatedly informed Frontier that I could see a text on my simple Trac flip phone, but that I could NOT SEND a text, due to the nature of the phone verses my condition. So what do they do? They sent a text that seemed to anticipate a text response.

So I called Frontier on my Tracfone to confirm the appointment, but it took FIVE attempts, each going in the same loop over and over, to get to where I could even address a service appointment.

But then their system showed a different appointment time, so I said "No" to confirming the new time. What did the Frontier system do? It thanked me for CONFIRMING the less appropriate appointment time - a time that I had NOT confirmed! So I had to repeat the procedure - to cancel the unwanted imposed appointment time - and reschedule the original appointment time. It took over an HOUR to do this via their quirky system - a system with no available people.

Then, later in the week, and a few MINUTES before the end of the time window for when the Frontier technician was supposed to come (and the close of business for their office) they sent a text saying that the problem was with their lines, that there was an OUTAGE in my area, and that there was no need for a technician to show up. But they provided no estimate for when the problem would be fixed.

Thus, it took Frontier THREE DAYS - just to figure out that they had an outage. An outage that I had informed them about over two days earlier.

So I called Frontier again to try and get an ETA on restored service. It took the better part of an hour (of Tracfone minutes I was paying for) to reach a real person. They then said that both the phone and Internet would be restored in 12 to 18 hours, which would correspond to no later than 9:00 on Friday morning, 22 March.

On Friday, 10:00 a.m. came and went, and there is still no phone or Internet service. Then noon came and went. And it is here that the plot thickens. And the nonsense that followed made me hope that my none of my pension funds were invested in Frontier:

On Friday afternoon, after almost FOUR days of outage, Frontier said that they had NO IDEA of when service would be restored. I reminded them of my disability, the doctor portal situation, the eclipse, and the travel difficulty situations that all made the matter more urgent, but they obviously did NOT care.

I demanded to talk to a supervisor or someone else in authority would have some answers, but the Frontier person REFUSED to connect me with anyone else for several minutes.

Finally, I was connected with someone who said they were a supervisor having a different name than the person I had just spoken with - but the voice sounded almost identical to the person I first spoke with.

And, the same people at Frontier (NONE of them appeared to be in the USA) REFUSED to connect me to anyone in the USA concerning the Frontier outage. (Frontier uses these people in other countries, so the fact that they did not connect me with anyone in the USA is on Frontier.)

There was no viable way to report this to Frontier (since these are the people you get when calling Frontier), so this web page may be the only way that the matter can be reported.

I only spoke with one person at Frontier who seemed to care at all (on 23 or 24 March), but he had no authority to do anything. He was in India, and he or those he knew remembered the 1995 total solar eclipse in India, so he seemed to understand the rarity of a total solar eclipse in a given country. He also may have been the first person to actually type that I was disabled into the record.

Frontier eventually claimed that the outage was caused by someone "stealing" a length of cable that had 13 twisted pairs of wire in it. (Possible, since it is Los Angeles, where theft has all but been decriminalized.) And here, things got more interesting:

Frontier Excuses - NOT Results! (They have to "Order" Equipment to Splice a Cable!)

Frontier said that they had to "order" the cable to be able to fix the problem, apparently meaning that Frontier did NOT have cable like this in any of their local facilities. (A telecom company that has NO appropriate spare cable on hand! Fancy that.)

AND, Frontier said that they had to "ORDER" the EQUIPMENT required to SPLICE the cable, meaning that they did NOT even have equipment to splice the WIRE cable! (I recorded this nonsense from Frontier. They say they record the calls, so because that makes it 2-party knowledge, is is legal to record them.) And they said this multiple times on multiple days.

I don't know if what Frontier said above is true, but my first impressions are that such excuses (having to "order" equipment to splice a cable, for example) were way out there.

To top it off, Frontier had NO estimate on when they might restore service. They would not even bound the time by saying it would be less than WEEKS (plural). So, other than continuing to call them, all I could do was periodically pick up my phone to see if it had a dial tone.

At the time, I did not even have a way to get to a nearby store to acquire a hotspot with related service to fill in the gap. And Frontier repeatedly refused to provide a hotspot when asked. (Also, given the apparent monopoly, they said my area was not eligible for Frontier fiber service.)

One would think that a PHONE / INTERNET COMPANY would have the equipment needed to SPLICE a wire cable. We're talking about multiple conductor wire cable, not a fiber optic cable.

Given the above, I pity the poor soul who has Frontier as their only service for phone and Internet in the event of a natural disaster. If Frontier had to "order" the equipment to splice a WIRE cable, I can only imagine how much stuff they would have to "order" (with the related delays) in the event of widespread outages of either wired or fiber service that could follow a natural disaster.

Since California has earthquakes, I don't want to be one of those poor souls, so I will be looking for an alternative once the 2024 eclipse date passes, whether I make it there or not. Because of the apparent monopoly, there is no alternative for a land line, so the solution may have to be wireless.

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Then, Frontier Did it AGAIN! An Even Longer Outage: For over TWO WEEKS in July.

After I began to get caught up from the effects of the long Frontier outage of March 2024, and was looking online for alternative Internet and phone services, Frontier's service for BOTH phone and Internet went down AGAIN!

This happened while I was well into looking online for alternatives to Frontier, so it prevented looking into these further. I was stuck with Frontier (and a COMPLETE lack of their Phone or Internet service) for as long as the July 2024 outage (which proved to be even longer than the nine day Frontier outage in March) lasted.

This second long Frontier outage of 2024 began before 2:20 a.m. on 1 July. This time, early parts of the outage (and Frontier's initial response to it) played out about the same as it did in March, except in July, it "only" took them one day to realize and acknowledge that there was an outage.

As was the case for the LONG Frontier outage in March 2024, the July outage interfered with communicating with my doctors and ordering daily supplies online. (I am disabled, and Frontier knows it, and being able to timely order items online this is important.)

In fact, after the July 2024 Frontier outage had reached its TENTH DAY, I had to cancel one of my mid July doctor appointments, because I could not interact with their office via their online portal, etc. AND, with no Frontier service for my regular phone number, I also could not receive calls from whatever pharmacy was supposed to fill and deliver my prescriptions. Therefore, I was without some of my prescriptions solely because of Frontier.

The weight of that is part of why this second long Frontier outage of 2024 is covered here, even though it was after the April 2024 total solar eclipse. This also shows that the LONG March outage was NOT an isolated incident with Frontier.

The matter is also included here so it can be seen by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) via giving them the URL (or applicable search terms) over the phone. (It has to be a publicly available web site for search engines to find it, to get the search terms to work.) That is only timely option, when there is no way to file a complaint online while Frontier Internet service is not working.

Accordingly, subsections of this web page that cover the long Frontier outages of March and July 2024 are more detailed than may be necessary for part of an eclipse journal, since the detail may be useful in formal complaints. At some point later on, after the complaint(s), etc., are addressed, some details may be removed.

However, the fact that the March Frontier outage was the SOLE reason that I could not get to the 2024 path of totality will be retained indefinitely. The impact of the second Frontier outage on things relevant to content of this web page (such as missing rocket launches) will also be retained. Think of it as a review of Frontier's service, where flaws are mentioned - just as flaws were noted in any camera or lens reviews that I published in the past.

Based on Frontier's past performance this year, their service could easily go down for a third time before I am able to file a formal online complaint or make an informed switch to another phone and Internet company. This is because there is a lot of catching up to do after a long outage, such as rescheduling missed doctor appointments and ordering groceries, etc.

The long July outage by Frontier also caused me to miss several rocket launches that would have otherwise been pictured in Appendix G of this web page. (I could not tell when the lauches would happen without an Internet connection!)

As for other events related to the July 2024 Frontier outage: This time, even though it was after midnight on the morning of 1 July, I called Frontier within about an hour of when the outage had begun (prior to 2:20 a.m.), rather than waiting until the next day. Frontier's shorter outages tended to last "only" for several minutes, rather than an hour or more. Therefore, it was a safe bet that it would be a longer outage after it had exceeded an hour.

When I initially called Frontier in July, I think I spoke with a Filipino call center, and these (in my experience) have almost always been superior to call centers in mainland Asia. This might be part of why Frontier acknowledged the July outage three times faster than was the case in March: Because in July, they scheduled a tech appointment three times closer to when the outage began.

In both outages, Frontier did not seem to realize there was an outage until a few minutes before the tech was supposed to arrive at my place. Each time, they'd sent a text saying the tech was on the way to my place, followed by a text that said there was an outage, and that the there was no need for the tech to show up. (Prior to this, their automated system had said there was not an outage.)

Frontier Keeps Customers in the Dark During their Second WEEK+ Long Outage of 2024:

As was the case in the March Frontier outage, there was no initial information about the nature of the outage, or when Frontier expected to restore service. When I later called about this (the day after their message that said the tech did not need to come), their automated system said that their personnel would not have any information about the outage. This leaves a customer completely in the dark about when service may be restored, which is of course unacceptable. It was then difficult to reach a real person.

When I did finally reach a real person on this second call, it was unfortunately at a call center that appeared to be in mainland Asia, and it showed. They seemed to have difficulty understanding my request to add notes to the ticket so the tech or others could see them. And after I got that across, they seemed to be reluctant to add such notes. However, based on what they said, it appeared that they did make at least one of the three requested notations. They said that the outage would be resolved in 24 to 48 hours, but had no information about the nature of the outage.

After the 24 to 48 hour time to restore service came and went, and service still was not restored, I called Frontier a third time, and it was again difficult to reach a real person. (This failure to restore service by the promised time was the same scenario as Frontier's outage in March of 2024, except that in March, it took many more calls to get even this far, so a lot of calls were made to Frontier in March.) I did not call them as often in July because an eclipse was not coming up, though an appointment with my doctor, for which I would need to use their patient portal, was coming up.

In this third July call, after four consecutive days without Frontier Internet or phone service, they still knew nothing. And as was the case in the March Frontier outage, they then would not provide a revised date for when service would be restored. The person I spoke with seemed to have some candor, but it appeared that Frontier may have been keeping information from their own foreign call center. Frontier's apparent way of doing things in July 2024 was to keep their own call centers (and thus their customers) in the dark.

As before, they claimed that there was no way to connect me with anyone in the USA. And (also as in the March outage) they would not provide a hotspot to bridge the LONG gap in Internet service.

A Phone Company with an Unreliable Automated Phone System:

In subsequent calls that were made after more than a continuous week of Frontier's long July outage, their stated hold times were up to 40 minutes. Even worse, their callback request option only acknowledged that it had been selected about 25 percent of the time. (A very poor phone service for a phone company to have!)

But it was worse still, because every time the callback request feature failed to work, it threw me back into the queue. And every time this happened, it said the wait time was 10 minutes longer than it had been only a few minutes before, when the callback request feature had failed to work. Then I had to try it all over again. This happened up to three times before the call request feature worked. Frontier also never sent status texts after these were requested via their automated system.

On the rare occasions when Frontier's callback option did acknowledge my selection and my Tracfone number was provided, the call sometimes showed disconnected as soon as I answered. On the rare occasion when a callback actually worked, I was put on hold by the system that made the callback, and it was some time before I could speak with a person. When that happened, it was the same old thing, with no information about the outage, even after the outage had gone on for more than a continuous WEEK.

Another Frontier Yarn:

One of the calls was an exception, and the yarn they told was one for the record books. (And as with other Frontier calls, this yarn was recorded. Frontier says that they say that they record calls, so both parties have knowledge of the call being recorded.)

On 8 July, after the outage had lasted over a WEEK, Frontier claimed that the outage was because they were doing a "copper construction". (Odd term. Maybe the foreign call center did not phrase it correctly, even though they used the term repeatedly.) They said that this was where Frontier's central office was being rewired, and that MANY of their customers had experienced an outage since the previous day.

This seemed odd, since you would think a company would inform its customers in advance if an outage of BOTH phone and Internet was coming up, so customers could prepare for it.

Their yarn seemed way out there. But since phone companies often refer to a regional office as a "central office" I asked if Frontier meant to say that they were rewiring a local or regional office, such as one in Los Angeles, or if they meant it was something wider in scope. The reply was that it was Frontier's central office, in the central time zone (not my time zone) and not a regional office.

I then asked if this meant that EVERY Frontier customer in the entire COUNTRY was currently experiencing an outage because of the rewiring. The answer was YES. I asked again to be sure (and to give them an opportunity to get out of the grave they seemed to be digging around themselves), and the answer was again YES. (So if you were a Frontier customer who did NOT have an outage on 7 and 8 July 2024, feel free to let me know.)

As it happened, Frontier's yarn seemed less outlandish by only two days later. By then, their automated system was saying that even their fiber phone service was out in three states, including Florida and Texas. So, it sounded like things were falling apart. (That's when I began to consider jumping ship in the near term.)

However, because Frontier's claimed outage for rewiring supposedly did not start until 7 July, this yarn did not explain why my Frontier service had been out since 1 July. They claimed that my service would be up again on 9 July, barring some major new problem.

But Frontier service still was not working at all on 9 July, and the long outage continued. True to form, Frontier had no further information when I called that day, and they would not estimate when service would be restored. I asked them to notate that I was filing a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that would mention BOTH of their long outages of 2024.

Filing a Complaint: Frontier's LONG July Outage was NOT an Isolated Incident:

I filed a complaint by phone with the PUC on 9 July, but they indicated that Frontier had already more or less blown them off, by saying it was a "regional" outage in response to other complaints. A written complaint by Postal mail would be a follow up, since it was not possible to file an online complaint while Frontier's (by now demonstrated unreliable) Internet service was still out.

This raised the stakes, because it meant that this was not an isolated incident for Frontier. Because if Frontier is claiming even to the PUC that the July 2024 outage (which had gone on for NINE DAYS and counting) is part of a regional outage, what does that say about their reliability?

This means that the nine day (and counting) outage of July 2024 was common to many customers of Frontier. So it not an isolated issue.

My impression and opinion is that this sounds like a sinking ship. A ship I may have already been off of if their service had not gone down for a second time as I was looking online for alternatives.

By the next day, the duration of Frontier's July 2024 outage was in its TENTH DAY, surpassing even the length of their ridiculously long 9-day outage of March 2024, which was the only thing that had prevented arranging a ride to the path of totality for the 8 April total solar eclipse.

Regardless of the veracity of what Frontier's overseas call centers say, it is still all on Frontier, because they did NOT provide any way for customers to reach their people in the USA. Maybe Frontier no longer has employees in the USA beyond a few harried tech's who have to keep putting Band-aids on poorly maintained infrastructure? The fact that Frontier had to "order" even wire cable, and the equipment to splice it, before they could even restore service in March - indicates that they lack adequate spares. That does not inspire confidence about preventive maintenance.

Also, in the case of the July outage, one reason Frontier kept claiming they had no status was that they said an external contractor was correcting the problem. This reinforces the impression that Frontier may not be a real phone / Internet provider that actually owns the assets necessary to provide service, and that they instead just lease the assets used to provide service. If correct, that would mean that their company is just an administrator of third party assets, which is of little value when compared to a company that actually owns its assets and the means to maintain them.

All of the phone time with Frontier was on minutes that I had to pay for on my Tracfone. This made longer calls to Frontier (mostly loops through their nonsensical and unreliable automated system) cost me on the order of $4.50 per call. A seemingly worthless company. I once again hoped that none of my retirement funds were invested in Frontier stock!

Less than 90 Percent Frontier System Availability (Here) for the Entire YEAR to Date!

The continuous July 2024 Frontier outage of both phone AND Internet had ultimately lasted for TWELVE CONSECUTIVE DAYS (and was still going) by the time it was possible to SWITCH to another provider that did not use the monopolized phone lines. This second Frontier outage began before 2 a.m. on 1 July, and it still had not ended as of when I switched to a Cable company at 5 p.m. on 12 July. (And there still was no end in sight for the Frontier outage when I switched.)

When the TWELVE days of Frontier outage up to the time I switched to a cable company (11 days and 15 hours to be exact) is added to Frontier's ridiculous NINE DAY outage in March, that is over TWENTY days of COMPLETE phone and Internet OUTAGE thus far in 2024. That comes to 10.4 percent Frontier service downtime (20 outage days and change / 194 days) for the year to date by the time I bailed. Abysmal.

The July Frontier outage lasted even LONGER than this. My phone number still had not ported over the cable company by mid afternoon on 19 July, and there was still no dial tone from Frontier even by then. So the July outage exceeded TWO WEEKS. That brought the Frontier system downtime for the year to date at my address to over 27.5 days, for 13.6 percent (27.5/201.6 days).

The take away is that Frontier's service in my area has become worse every year, yet their prices kept going up. As of this year, they cannot be relied on for service when it is needed. Thus far in 2024, the availability of their phone AND Internet service has been WORSE than 90 percent. And when it has worked, the Internet connection was no where near as fast as what they charged for.

Most Internet and phone companies promote how many "9's" are in their availability numbers, such as 99 percent or 99.9 percent. But Frontier wasn't capable of providing even ONE "9" of availability. As of mid July 2024, Frontier could not even make 90 percent availability for EITHER phone or Internet over the entire year! That is a third world level of performance. Yet they charge first world prices for their schlock service.

LONG TERM (months of) TEN PERCENT DOWNTIME of both phone and Internet, and in even the ability to use a land line to call 911 in an emergency, is abysmal. Frontier cannot be relied on as the only means to reach emergency services, or for much else. And if they cannot be relied on even for this, there is little point in using them, or for their even existing for that matter.

There was a time when a land line phone was reliable enough to rely on even in emergencies. It used to be unheard of that a land line phone or Internet connection would be down for days to over a week at a time in the absence of a significant natural disaster. But in my experience, this is not so when the services are provided by Frontier Communications. In my entire lifetime of more than six decades, I have never experienced such unreliable service. Nothing else was even close.

Monopolies Don't Care. And Monopolies that Don't Perform Shouldn't Exist:

Perhaps the unreliability is because: A local monopoly has no incentive to perform.
And if this is how monopolies are going to behave, they should not exist.

Maybe they are not a true phone or telecommunication company? Maybe they sold off resources required to perform basic repair on phone lines, to make stocks perform better in the short term? (Sacrificing long term performance for short term gains seems increasingly common with publicly traded companies.) It is my impression that they may be little more than a line leaser, only re-selling use of existing phone lines, and adding their overhead and institutional inefficiency to the mix - while bringing nothing to the table that benefits the customer.

A person could cope with disabilities just fine if it was not for unreliable companies like Frontier having monopolies on local land lines and related DSL Internet service. (I again did not pick Frontier. Instead, people who used to have Verizon land lines and DSL got stuck with them.)

And Frontier was repeatedly informed that I was disabled, had no backup Internet, and was at the time reliant on the Internet even to get groceries. When one has to order things online, and interface with doctors online, unreliable Internet service is a big deal. And Frontier blindsided this customer with sudden and repeated LONG duration outages in 2024.

Maybe Frontier will eventually realize that we are in the 21st century, but I don't want to wait around to find out. Since their service repeatedly goes down (and then it takes them over a week to fix it, even when there is not a local disaster), I don't want to have to rely on them in the event of a disaster. I can only imagine how long it would take them to restore service after a natural disaster. In that situation, maybe they won't be able to restore service at all? With companies like this in the mix, it is no surprise that our nation's infrastructure is falling apart.

HARM Caused by BOTH of Frontier's LONG 2024 Outages of Phone AND Internet:

  • Was the SOLE cause of NOT being able to go to the 2024 TOTAL Solar Eclipse.
  • Prevented seeing my 94 year old Dad and my Brother for the first time since early 2020.
    (They both went to the Texas motel I had reservations at so we could meet at the eclipse.)
  • Cost $229.98 to cancel the eclipse motel reservations I could not use because of Frontier.
  • Interfered with Medical Treatment in March and July 2024.
  • Caused cancellation of a 5-week lead time doctor appointment in July 2024.
  • Prevented notification, filling, and delivery of prescriptions in early July.
  • Caused me to run out of medicine from two prescriptions for over 2 weeks.
  • Prevented getting groceries online, and I ran out of some staple and other items.
  • Delayed resolving final details on my late friend's grave marker. (Must be done online.)
  • Delayed locating and notifying a few of my late friend's other friends about his passing.
  • Delayed updating my late Mom's, plus TWO of my late friends', memorial web pages.
  • Caused online property tax payment to be late, resulting in over $200 in penalties.
  • Prevented any and all online banking during both outages.
  • Prevented starting my retirement income in time for the Summer of 2024.
  • Hindered checking on my elderly Dad's status and preparing to care for him.
  • Delayed looking into roofing companies, reducing selection for a summer re-roof.
  • Prevented observing July Vandenberg rocket launches. (Launch times on Internet.)
  • All of the above caused stress, and Frontier outages interfered with even more things.

Exploring (and Selecting) Alternatives to Frontier's Abysmally Unreliable Service:

As for alternatives to Frontier (none of these use phone lines due to the local monopoly): Shortly before Frontier's July 2024 outage began, I had narrowed down the most likely possibilities to Starlink and a regional cable / telecomm company that can provide Internet and phone over their cable.

Between these, I would have chosen Starlink hands down (since it could be used in other locations), EXCEPT they apparently took down their Dish Web Portal web site in 2024. This means that a smart phone (with service) is now required, in order to download and run an app to align their antenna. My Tracfone is not a smart phone, so adding a smart phone and cell service to entry criteria for Starlink would excessively increase both the front end cost and the learning curve. (Also, touch screens such as those on smart phones are not very compatible with my medical situation.)

As for the cable option: Frontier had already admitted that they don't even offer fiber in my area, so Frontier had nothing other than an unreliable phone line. This alone is ample reason to promote local competition, especially in areas where Frontier doesn't even offer the fiber service that they frequently advertize.

With the Starlink Internet option, I'd probably have to use Voice Over Internet (VoiP) for a home phone. VoiP is not known for reliability, but I assume it would be more reliable than Frontier's abysmal 90 percent phone availability thus far in 2024.

If a backup is needed for the phone service from another provider (I found out the hard way that a backup certainly is needed with Frontier, and that makes one wonder why they even exist), I might as well use a company that can also provide enough Internet bandwidth to reliably stream at least 720p video without choking.

Another reason that it will be good to be shut of Frontier is that dialing out on their land line has always been quirky, in that, about half of the time, the dial tone did not stop when dialing out. That always prevented the call (or fax) from going through, so dialing had to start over. It could then take 3 or 4 attempts to get the dial tone to stop when a phone number was dialed.

In the end, on 12 July, 2024, I SWITCHED away from Frontier and to a combined cable and telecomm company (rather than Starlink) as the alternative. Switching to the cable company instead of Starlink was partly due to cost, but was mainly because, after the Starlink Dish Web Portal became unavailable, what I read indicated that the Starlink antenna could no longer be set up properly without a smart phone.

The cable company's current WiFi device seems to be app dependent (meaning I can't configure it beyond its default yet), but the Internet connection is about SEVENTY TIMES FASTER than Frontier's had recently been even on a good day, and it cost less. Initial speed tests showed 115 mbps download speeds, compared the paltry 1.5 mbps that was typical of Frontier over the previous year or so. (There was a time when Frontier provided 3 mbps. woo-eee!)

Less than one full day after Internet and phone service were restored by using the cable company and quitting Frontier, I learned of the unfortunate events in Butler, Pennsylvania. Those events are not otherwise mentioned in this web page, because most of this subsection was written offline during the second LONG Frontier outage of 2024, and before the switch to the cable company.

After finally having Internet again, I also learned of problems restoring power in Houston, TX, almost a week after Hurricane Beryl. Perhaps another case of a complacent monopoly?

My phone number (and its parameters of service) were not ported over to the cable company until 19 July at about 4 pm. And Frontier service was still down as of that time.

Frontier (Pointlessly) Shows Up to Restore Service AFTER I Switch to the Cable Company:

About half an hour after my number was ported to the cable company, a tech came to my door. He said he was there to restore my phone and Internet service. I told him that a tech had just been here, and that everything had worked fine since then. The tech looked puzzled, then he said it must have been the cable company tech. It was only then that I looked in the background to see that this tech was from Frontier!

I told him that I had switched to a cable company for phone and Internet, and he did not seem surprised by this. Perhaps as though others had done the same thing. I told him that (even though Frontier service was not working) I had to leave my Frontier account active until my phone number was ported over earlier that day, and that made sense to him. He asked what day I switched, then he relayed that information to Frontier.

The Frontier tech said that there had been THREE incidents of their phone cables being stolen in my area so far that month. They would replace one stolen cable, only to find that another length of cable had been stolen a block or two away. Each theft was the interval between phone poles, or about 200 feet in these cases. (This differed from the "copper construction" and "regional outage" stories from overseas, but sounded more accurate.) I mentioned that if they ran fiber everywhere, they may not have that problem. He agreed, saying that their fiber cables had not been stolen.

At that point in July 2024, Frontier service had been out for about 18 days and 15 hours, or about twice as long as their outage in March. And this was the first time I had been able to speak to a Frontier person who was NOT overseas all year! If Frontier had provided a way to speak with people in the USA, their outages may not have lasted so long. This is partly because, each time an outage was reported, it appeared to take Frontier at least 3 to 5 days before anyone knew anything, and several days beyond that to actually do anything.

Jurisdictions that Effectively Decriminalize Theft are Bad for Business!

If Frontier's claims of cable theft are true, the above also shows that effective decriminlalization of theft and vandalism in Los Angeles is NOT good for business! If there were significant penalties for such theft, it would not happen as often, and companies like Frontier may not lose as many customers.

Los Angeles and other cities set the stage for all of this by tolerating mouth-breathing rioters who exerted themselves while in large groups during the 2020 "summer of love" riots (during a so-called pandemic), while arresting others who merely gathered to sing hymns outdoors. (I say so-called because unequal application of restrictions was used for political purposes in many liberal areas, and spread of the virus coincided with the riots, after accounting for the incubation period.) Maybe corporations and cities that back movements associated with repeat rioters should stop and think - about what the lawlessness they encourage will do to their bottom lines a few years later!

Also, it seems that someone could make more money for a given amount of effort if they worked even a minimum wage job than they would by scaling TWO phone poles to steal each 200 foot length of cable. Whoever steals Frontier's cable is obiously able-bodied, and capable of working a real job. As a disabled person, it bothers me that able-bodied people waste their capabilities on such counterproductive things. Being able-bodied is a gift, and should be treated as such.

This subsection may later be appended to briefly indicate how the selected alternative Internet and phone services worked out. Thus far, the Internet connection has been over 30 times faster than even the best (3.3 mbps) speed I ever had with Frontier. Beyond the faster Internet speed, the cable company has also been better in terms of customer service, in that ALL calls thus far have been answered by people in the USA. And most of them seem to know what they are doing. Hold times have also only been about 25 percent as long as they had been with Frontier.


Of Monopolies, and the False Notion that Capitalism is the Same as Freedom:

Before Frontier provided phone and Internet service in this area, it was provided by Verizon. I was not a fan of Verizon, but at least Verizon's service (which presumably used the same lines, as Verizon then owned the lines) was more reliable than Frontier - in the years before Frontier took over here. (I did not choose Frontier. They just took over service in this area several years ago.)

When Verizon provided service here (essentially as a monopoly, since any other carrrier had to lease their lines), they did not honor their price for the first two years. (Their "reason" was quite amusing: They said that their "Revenue Assurance Department" mandated that they violate their 2-year customer agreement in terms of pricing.)

Verizon had the same brief (seconds to minutes) outages that happened several times every day (which prevented downloading my webmail archive to a local email client). But the speed was occasionally a little better (could handle 720p video more often), and outages lasting for hours were less common. And they didn't have any outages that lasted entire days or weeks.

Either way, it is an argument against monopolies. And if even a regional company has a local monopoly and fails to perform, it should be broken up just like AT&T was in the 1980's. After a few years, lower prices and better service followed that breakup. Because then, there was competition.

Either that, or Internet service should not be privatized at all. No essential service should be privatized as the only customer option. At the very least, non-privatized Internet service should be available to everyone, then those who want more bandwidth can go with private alternatives.

Had this been the case, Internet service would be more reliable, and I would have both made it to the path of totality and been able to interact with my doctors at a critical time, etc. Not to mention the greater benefit that increased Internet reliability would have for everyone else.

Even without the above telecommunications debacle: As noted earlier in this journal, it was the "Ethics Board" of a corporation (an HMO) that presumed to act as a death panel in regard to my late friend. They acted in a brazen manner, with an attitude that implied: "This is what we are going to do, and there is nothing that you, even as POA, can do about it!" If that doesn't reveal an attitude that there will be no corporate accountability, I don't know what does.

Unfettered capitalism that allows monopolies is not the same as freedom. We need only look at the censorship that corporations imposed in recent years to see the truth of this. Unfettered capitalism may even be a threat to freedom. Any case of power without accountability is a threat to freedom. And at the current time, there seems to be less accountability in corporations than in government.

Rant complete! Now, on to the 2024 eclipse goals and instrumentation!

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Goals of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Expedition (that didn't happen because of Frontier):


Of the total solar eclipses I had a shot at seeing, the 8 April 2024 eclipse offered a longer duration of totality than any eclipse since 1991. A longer duration of totality makes it possible to spend more time observing the eclipse, as opposed to only operating equipment.

Also, the early afternoon time of the 2024 eclipse was a better fit to my circadian rhythm (which tended toward late shifts), and it may have a greater impact because it begins in what is normally the brightest part of the day. However, because the 2024 eclipse could potentially be my last, I wanted to accomplish certain things.

Goals of the 2024 eclipse included the following:

  • Allocate at least 50 seconds to observe the solar corona under magnification.
  • Observe and photograph umbra toward the east to NE during first minute of totality.
  • Obtain data for umbra projection altitude experiment, mostly from VR images.
  • Capture 360 degree panoramas at every 4.5 seconds, using Entaniya fisheye lens.
  • Capture 360 degree VR video encompassing totality, plus 2 minutes before and 3-4 after.
  • Capture wide angle images of the eclipse over the horizon.
  • Capture wide angle video of the eclipse over the horizon throughout totality.
  • Capture a sequence image showing partial phases every 4 minutes, plus totality.
  • Capture range of solar corona exposures with both film and digital cameras.
  • Image earthshine on the moon during totality.
  • Capture video of solar corona in a range of image scales and exposures.
  • Determine (and image) maximum time before or after totality that lunar outline visible.
  • Measure and record data for light and temperature curves between 1c and 4c.
  • Take enough location video to provide background for an eclipse video.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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2024 Total Solar Eclipse Instrumentation:
(That didn't get to be used for a total solar eclipse.)

Images below include a drawing of the equipment that was envisioned (and completed) for the 8 April 2024 total solar eclipse. Photos (some of which are below; more to be added later) show the actual equipment in its completed state. Completing this setup required a lot of time and effort, not to mention cost and other aspects. Completing it was made a great deal more difficult by the fact that I had to take on being Power of Attorney for an incapacitated elderly friend for three years, starting in late 2020. That literally required almost all of my time and energy for those three years.

Only limited camera and lens testing was needed before the 2024 eclipse. This is because I had performed considerable camera and lens testing before the 2017 solar eclipse. For this reason, this web page does not include a dedicated lens test section. Instead, test results for the few lenses or telescopes that were tested in preparation for the 2024 eclipse have been added to the table of over 30 lenses and telescopes that were tested before the 2017 eclipse. These tests are in Appendix B of my combined 2017 total solar eclipse journal and photo page, at:
http://www.eclipsechaser.com/eclink/image/total17.htm#test

DISCLAIMER: Some specific product brands and models are mentioned in this web page, as well as in my other eclipse web pages, and in my camera, lens, and telescope review pages. Unless otherwise noted, the mentioned products were acquired with my own funds at the market price. Most were purchased used from third parties. This eclipsechaser.com web site is "sponsored" by my company, Versacorp, in that I pay the ISP to host it. But this is moot in terms of what I write about products, since Versacorp has not offered new telescope accessories for years. Other than that, I am not sponsored. Therefore, if I write that I like a product, or if I point out its advantages, it is because I really like it or see its advantages, and I was not paid to write it.

Drawing of Instrumentation for the 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
Equipment proposed for the Total Solar Eclipse of 8 April, 2024, as envisioned in 2018, 2020, and 2024, and "as built" in time for the 2024 eclipse. Copyright 2018, 2020, 2023, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.
This is a low resolution 640 pixel wide image. Click HERE for a larger image (1650 x 1200, 632 KB)

After the above eclipse setup was envisioned and partially implemented, I was thrust into being Power of Attorney (POA) for an elderly friend and Veteran who had no surviving family after he became incapacitated in late 2020. Even though his documents were in order, one financial institution and a few other businesses refused to honor them, leading to years of imposed vexatious complications in managing his affairs.

This stopped the 2024 eclipse preparations cold in 2020, and adversely impacted my health to an extent that I still had not recovered by the time of the 2024 eclipse. Therefore, I lacked stamina to drive to the eclipse myself, and could only go if I could find a driver for my van, or get a ride with someone who was going to the eclipse in another vehicle. Thus, even by early March of 2024, it was uncertain if I would be able to go to the 2024 total solar eclipse.

However, the eclipse setup shown above was completed and fully tested in time for the 8 April, 2024 eclipse.

Even though there had been no opportunity to resume significant work on the eclipse setup until early February 2024, that was just enough time to complete it, given my limited stamina to work on it or anything else for very long in any given week. But the same temporarily worse medical situation that prevented driving to the eclipse also influenced my ability to set up the eclipse instruments based on memory alone. Therefore, I had to make the drawing above to use in assembling the 2024 eclipse equipment. It shows the tripods and the locations for all cameras, as well as the channels used on the multi channel interval timer I had gradually built in 2017.

In case you missed the last section about why I could not get to the path of totality in 2024, here is a brief summary of a few relevant parts of it:

In mid March 2024, just as I was working on arranging transportation to the eclipse, and within hours of when I was going to send related emails (that I had been composing off line in text files): My phone AND Internet service, BOTH provided by Frontier Communications, went down for NINE CONSECUTIVE DAYS. And the problem was with their lines. It had nothing to do with equipment or lines in the house.

This LONG Frontier outage delayed everything and prevented arranging transportation. It also imposed the need to try to make the few last minute items that I otherwise could have ordered online. (This took a LOT of time that otherwise would not have been lost.) Worse, Frontier had no sense of urgency about restoring service, even though the outage prevented even calling 911 from my land line, since there was no dial tone.

And, as it turned out, I WOULD have certainly had transportation to where my motel reservations were in the path of totality (and where it proved to be adequately clear during totality) if the Frontier outage had lasted well under a week instead of nine days. (The driver needed to give his employer that much more notice to get time off work. That was the only thing preventing the trip. This is why it is accurate to say the trip was effectively prevented by Frontier Communications.)

Even though Frontier was repeatedly made fully aware that I was disabled (via an old Trac flip phone I'd bought service for so I could use it on the eclipse trip), and of the urgency of the eclipse situation, and of the necessity of Internet service to communicate with my doctors via their patient portals, and with those who may be able to provide transportation to the total eclipse path, Frontier had no sense of urgency about restoring service, even after HOURS of talking with them on my TrakFone. It took them three days to even acknowledge that there was an outage.

Frontier first provided a false near term time for when service would be restored. Then, after they missed that date, and after 5 days of outage, they refused to even estimate a time. They apparently have a MONOPOLY on the lines here, and it shows. (Ah, the "pleasures" of monopolies that result from unfettered capitalism... Capitalism and freedom are very different things.) Worse, Frontier claimed that they did NOT have the wire cable needed to fix the problem, or equipment to splice a WIRE cable. They said they had to "order" these before service could be restored.

That made me wonder if they were a real phone or Internet company that actually owns the assets required to provide service. Given Frontier's stated need to "order", even basic things before service could be restored, I don't know how they'll cope with widespread outages after a natural disaster. If they can't, it makes a case for fostering competition in this area, for the safety of the population.

In addition to the above, another long Frontier outage began on 1 July, just as I'd begun to catch up on things that fell behind due to their 9-day outage of March 2024, and right as I was researching alternatives to their unreliable phone and Internet service. They had no sense of urgency about restoring either phone or Internet service: They apparently have a monopoly on lines in this area.

As of when I switched away from Frontier during the TWELFTH day their SECOND long outage of the year in July, the reliability of either their phone or Internet service was WORSE than 90 percent for the entire year! Let's just say that I would not want them designing or maintaining my eclipse instruments!


Photos and Descriptions of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Instrumentation

The 2024 eclipse instrumentation is pictured below. Descriptions of its new features, plus a list of its major and minor assemblies, follow the overview photos below.

Photo of Instrumentation for the 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
Cameras and light meters, etc., set up for a practice run, six days before the 8 April, 2024 total solar eclipse.
From left to right, the tripods (which do not count the tripod for the gray telescope on the extreme left) are for:
- Corona Still Image and Ambient Light Measurement Assembly (3 cameras, as shown)
- Wide Angle and VR Imaging and Video Assembly (6 cameras). A condensed eclipse procedure is on the clipboard.
- Custom Multi Camera Controller and Interval Timer (blue box at bottom)
- Sequence Camera (1 camera)
- Corona Video Assembly (6 cameras)
- The large 250 degree Entaniya fisheye lenses at the top are used for the primary 360 degree imaging (instead of the motorized indexing panoramic platform I built in 1991) to eliminate the need to stitch separate images. However, the Corona Still Image tripod on the left has provision to add an elevated support for the panoramic platform.
- The blue 12-channel camera controller and interval timer box at the bottom is detailed in my 2017 eclipse web page.
- There was less space for staging before the 2024 eclipse because I had to store my incapacitated friend's stuff (such as the C8 on the left, which is not part of the eclipse setup) after his condo was sold for him to pay for his 24-hour care.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


New Features of the 2024 Eclipse Instrumentation

The 2024 eclipse instrumentation has several features that were not in my 2017 eclipse setup. Significant differences include:
  • More compact custom camera bars and brackets (smaller/lighter than commercial items)
  • Entaniya 250 degree fisheye lenses, each pointed up, for primary VR umbra imaging.
  • Complete elimination of all autofocus lenses (to prevent focus hunting).
  • Fujifilm X cameras (with marked shutter speed dials!) used where manual settings needed.
  • Compact visual telescope has 90 degree diagonal (not 45) for high solar elevation angle.
  • Ad Astra III and TeleVue 60 (with field flattener) telescopes used instead of camera lenses.
  • Run time remaining indicators added to Fornax LighTrack II mounts.
  • Custom compact wedge for tracking mount (smaller, lighter than Gitzo PL5 head)
  • Almost entire system operable from a single seated position (handicapped-accessible!)
  • Partial eclipse sequence series entirely automated via Fuji X-T10 internal interval timer.
  • Fully defined system, with little in the way of alternate or optional items.
  • Tripods are more compact, to fit more conventional size equipment cases.

Capabilities of the 2024 Eclipse Instrumentation

Capabilities of the 2024 eclipse instrumentation were driven by the goals of the expedition.
  • From 2c-2 min. to 3c+4, automatically captures a 360 degree panorama every 5 seconds.
  • Redundant manually operated VR camera for backup on 360 degree panoramas.
  • Accepts elevated mount for motorized indexing panoramic platform (for higher resolution).
  • From 2c-2 min. to 3C+4, captures 360 degree video (via 2nd Entaniya 250 deg. fisheye).
  • Full frame fisheye digital still pictures of sun (and eclipse) over horizon.
  • Full frame fisheye still pictures on film of sun (and eclipse) over horizon.
  • Additional full frame fisheye photos of areas of interest in any direction.
  • Full frame fisheye video of sun (and eclipse) over horizon (12-16mm equivalent FL).
  • Automated sequence image of all partial eclipse phases.
  • Three light meters, thermometer, clock, and camera for recording light curve, etc., data.
  • Corona photos (digital) at full frame equivalent focal length of 540mm.
  • Corona photos (on 35mm film) at focal length of 760mm.
  • Corona video at full frame equivalent focal lengths of 500-, 700, 750+, 1,250, & 3,000mm.
  • Small visual fisheye lens to observe lunar umbra.
  • Small visual telescope to observe solar corona while operating corona cameras.
  • 10x stabilized binoculars to observe solar corona.
  • Operable from a seated position, and otherwise compatible with my disabilities.
  • Includes equipment to image the night sky on days after eclipse.

Assemblies, Tripods, and Corresponding Camera Groups:

The 2024 eclipse instrumentation consists of three major assemblies and a few minor assemblies. Each assembly is on its own tripod.

Major assemblies include:

  • Corona Still Image and Ambient Light Measurement Assembly (3 to 5 cameras):
    • One corona digital camera and one corona film camera, both on Fornax mount.
    • Light meter camera, plus three light meters, clock, and thermometer.
    • Has provision for elevated mounting of motorized indexing panoramic platform.
  • Wide Angle and VR Imaging Assembly (6 cameras):
    • Two 250 degree Entaniya HAL fisheye lenses: One for 360 deg. stills, one for video.
    • Also includes three cameras for 180 degree still images, plus one for 180 deg. video.
  • Corona Video Assembly (6 cameras):
    • Cluster of three long FL video cameras on Fornax LighTrack II mount, plus:
    • Pentax Q with 500mm lens, for equivalent of 3,000mm FL on full frame.
    • Canon SX280, for wider corona video at equivalent of 500mm FL.
    • Ricoh Theta S with wired remote on tall post, for backup VR still images.
Minor Assemblies Include:
  • Sequence camera on separate tripod (uses its own internal interval timer).
  • Camera controller box on separate tripod, below wide angle assembly.
  • Optional separate tripod with tracker for Pentax Q and 500mm lens.


Wide Angle and VR Imaging and Video Assembly (2024)
© Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles. All Rights Reserved.
Wide Angle and VR Imaging and Video Assembly, 2024 (6 Cameras)

The Wide Angle Imaging and Video Assembly consists of Six cameras. Each camera and lens is briefly described in the caption below. The woman pictured in the background is Willma Alcocer, a former Primary School Director (Principal) at Colegio Buenas Nuevas in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The picture frame was a 1994 gift from (and was made by) Buenas Nuevas primary school staff and students. I met Willma on my 1994 eclipse expedition, but an aspiring (yet failed to this day) politician and his rich cronies interfered with everything on the trip, including the eclipse, imaging southern sky objects, appearing at her school, and time with her. (Details are in my 1994 eclipse journal.) Unfortunately, she passed away on 22 Aug., 2023, only two weeks before she was going to (legally) move to the USA. And the same failed politician allegedly contributed to her death.

Wide Angle and VR Imaging and Video Assembly for 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
- TOP LEFT: Entaniya 3.6mm f/2.8 (250 degree) fisheye lens on Fujifilm X-T20 camera, for still images (one every 4.5 seconds) that cover the entire sky, the full 360 degree horizon, and down to 35 degrees below the horizon.
- TOP CENTER: Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye lens on Panasonic GX7, for video of the eclipse over the horizon. I was going to use an Olympus 8mm f/1.8 fisheye, but its lack of a manual focus switch or ring was a problem at the 2017 eclipse, and there was one occasion where it hunted for focus when even a GX7 camera was set to manual focus during a 2024 practice run. Not wanting to be bitten twice, I eliminated the Olympus f/1.8 lens from the system.
- TOP RIGHT: Entaniya 3.0mm f/2.8 (250 degree) fisheye lens on Fujifilm X-T20 camera, for 360 degree video.
- BOTTOM LEFT: Samyang 8mm f/2.8 fisheye lens on Fujifilm X-T10, for still images of the eclipse over the horizon. This camera can also be panned toward the left, where I was expecting a good light show from the umbra during the first minute of totality. I had hoped to adapt a 7.5mm MFT lens to the APS format Fuji camera, to get more vertical coverage, but lacked a way to shorten the mount. (Mounts for the 7.5mm and 8mm have the same bolt pattern, but are not the right thickness to interchange directly.) I later found that RAF camera makes an MFT to FX adapter.
- BOTTOM CENTER: Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens on Panasonic GX7, for still photos of eclipse over horizon.
- BOTTOM RIGHT: Samyang 12mm f/2.8 full frame fisheye lens on Nikon N2020 camera, for still images on film of the eclipse over the horizon.
- BACKGROUND, lower right: 28mm manual focus lens and solar filter on Fujifilm X-E1, for an eclipse sequence. After this picture was taken, I decided to swap the Fuji X-E1 and the chrome Fuji X-T10 at bottom left. This made it possible to use the built-in interval timer of the X-T10 (which the X-E1 lacks) for the entire sequence.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Front View of Wide Angle/VR Assembly, also Showing some other Cameras/Instruments.
The custom brackets for the Entaniya fisheye lenses (at either end of the top camera bar) have enough clearance that the camera screen can be tilted back for an easy view of the image.
- The pictured 8mm f/1.8 Olympus fisheye lens (top center) was still part of the 2024 system when this photo was taken. It was removed from the system well before the 2024 eclipse, because it lacked a manual focus switch or ring, and there was no 100 percent foolproof way to prevent focus hunting as ambient light was dimmed during tests.
- (The 8mm lens was used on an Olympus E-P3 at the 2017 eclipse, and the E-P3 changed its own setting from MF to S-AF mode, even though I had not accessed the menu, so zero results were obtained with it. The same uncommanded setting change also happened under the same conditions with all three E-P3 cameras I tested after the 2017 eclipse.)
- In 2024, even a Panasonic GX7 set to MF mode could not keep the 8mm lens from focus hunting in dim light with 100 percent reliabiliy, so the 8mm f/1.8 lens was replaced with a Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 lens in the eclipse setup.
- All other Olympus lenses in the same series as the 8mm f/1.8 had a sliding manual focus collar that locked out auto focus, but Olympus made the (stupid) decision to leave that feature off of the (expensive) 8mm f/1.8 lens.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Glass that Means Business: Two Entaniya 250 Degree HAL Fisheye Lenses.
The focal length of the left lens is 3.0mm. The diameter of its 250 degree image circle is 11.9mm, which is small enough to fit the height of a 16:9 video on APS format. The right lens has a focal length of 3.6mm. Its image circle is 14.25mm, for a larger image scale on APS format photos. Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Corona Still Image and Ambient Light Measurement Assembly (2024)
© Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles. All Rights Reserved.
Corona Still Image and Ambient Light Measurement Assembly (3 to 5 Cameras)

The Corona still image and ambient light measurement assembly consists of a telescope and digital camera to image both partial phases of the eclipse, plus prominences and the solar corona during totality; a telescope and film camera for photographing the corona, a small visual telescope, and a digital camera with a fisheye lens to capture video of an array of instruments that include three light meters (each set to a different light intensity range), a thermometer, and a clock - plus imaging the sun in the upper right corner of the background. The assembly also has provision to add an elevated support for the motorized indexing panoramic platform that I built in 1991 and used at all observed total solar eclipses since then.

Corona Still Image & Ambient Light Measurement Assembly, 2024 (Side View)
- LEFT: Array of light meters, plus a thermometer and a clock, to measure the ambient light intensity and temperature. The array includes two Sekonic meters (each set to a different range) and a Gossen Luna-Pro set to its low range. All meters are set to read incident light, as opposed to reflected. The Gossen meter is only used because it was used for measurements at all total solar eclipses I had observed since 1991.
UPPER CENTER: Olympus E-P3 camera with Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens, to capture 1080p video of the meter array, with the sun in the right background.
- NEXT TO LEFT: The small rectangular white object is an illuminator to illuminate the scales on the light meters during totality. The white incident light measurement domes on the meters are tipped away from the illuminator just enough to keep its light from biasing the readings.
- UPPER CENTER: Olympus E-P3 camera and 7.5mm f/3.5 Samyang lens, for HD Video with the light meters in the lower left of the frame, and the eclipse in the upper right of the frame.
- CENTER: Custom compact wedge that I designed and built for the Fornax tracking mount. The wedge also accommodates other mounts, including the Takahashi Teegul, the AstroTrac TT320x, and a variety of others.
- RIGHT: Cluster of telescopes and cameras on a Fornax LighTrack II tracking mount:
- Foreground: Ad Astra III telescope (78mm aperture, f/9.75) and Nikon N2020 film camera.
- Middle: Small telescope I made from a 300mm f/6.3 Rokinon lens. With the shown 18mm eyepiece, it provides a magnification of about 17x. The tiny 24.5mm diagonal is part of a compact afocal assembly I made in the 1980's that converted one side of my binoculars into a 40x telescope. (The other side of the binoculars was the finder scope!)
- Near Background: Televue 60 ED (60mm f/6) refractor telescope with Starizona EVO-FF field flattener and Fujifilm X-T10 digital camera. The 16MP X-T10 is used because it has fewer color artifacts around highlights than newer Fujifilm cameras that have more pixels. (Camera tests are in Appendix B of my 2017 total solar eclipse web page.)
- OTHER: The two dark post holders toward the lower left accept an elevated support for the motorized indexing panoramic platform I designed and built in 1991, and have used at total solar eclipses since then.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Corona Still Image & Ambient Light Measurement Assembly, 2024 (Operator View)
- This view better shows the light meter array (top) and the camera that images it (right). Telescopes in the foreground all have solar filters attached. From left to right, the telescopes and associated cameras are once again:
- Ad Astra III telescope with Nikon N2020 film camera.
- Compact telescope I made from a Nikon mount Rokinon 300mm f/6.3 mirror lens.
- TeleVue 60 ED telescope with Starizona EVO-FF field flattener and Fujifilm X-T10 camera. While not visible in this picture, I added paint marks to the TeleVue 60 drawtube that indicate its optimum positions for visual use, photography without the field flattener, and photography with the flattener. This reduced setup time in most situations.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



Corona Video Assembly (2024)
© Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles. All Rights Reserved.
Corona Video Assembly (6 Cameras)

The Corona Video Assembly captures video of the solar corona and other features at a variety of image scales. The widest is the full frame equivalent of 500mm (and can be zoomed to a wider angle) and the narrowest field is the full frame equivalent of 3,000mm. The sequence camera in the upper left background is not part of this assembly. The metal post on the extreme right is part of a 28 inch tall elevated mount for a Ricoh Theta S VR camera.

Corona Video Assembly for 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (Operator-side View)
LEFT: Tamron 500mm f/8 mirror lens on Panasonic GX7 camera (1,250mm full-frame equivalent focal length).
NEXT TO LEFT: Panasonic HDC-SD1 Camcorder with Nikon 3x ED Converter on front (700mm equivalent).
CENTER (in photo): Nikon 300mm f/4 ED Nikkor lens on Olympus E-P3 camera (750mm equivalent F.L).
RIGHT: Nikon 500mm Reflex Nikkor-C lens on Pentax Q camera (3,000mm full-frame equivalent F.L!)
NOT VISIBLE: Canon SX280 (behind cameras), and Ricoh Theta S VR camera (on top of post at extreme right). Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Corona Video Assembly for 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (Front View)
Since this is a front view, the apparent left-right camera order is reversed:
TOP LEFT: Nikon 300mm f/4 ED Nikkor lens on Olympus E-P3 camera.
TOP CENTER: Panasonic HDC-SD1 Camcorder with Nikon 3x ED Converter on front.
TOP RIGHT: Tamron 500mm f/8 mirror lens on Panasonic GX7 camera.
BOTTOM LEFT: Nikon 500mm f/8 Reflex Nikkor-C mirror lens on Pentax Q camera.
BOTTOM RIGHT: Canon SX280 camera (zooms to 500mm full-frame equivalent focal length).
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


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Cameras and Meters, etc., for 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
© Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles. All Rights Reserved.
Cameras and Meters, etc., for the 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.

Equipment for the 8 April 2024 total solar eclipse includes two telescopes (a vintage Ad Astra III Mak-Cass, and a TeleVue 60 refractor) for acquiring still images of the partial phases (and corona if I had been in the path of totality). The setup originally envisioned for 2024 used camera lenses instead of the small telescopes. But since the small telescopes had been acquired for purposes other than the eclipse anyway, they were used because of their superior image quality.

Cameras, Camera Controller, Meters., etc., for the 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
Even though this is considerably less equipment than what was used at the 2017 total solar eclipse, packing it required about the same amount of cases and volume as the 2017 eclipse setup. This is because many of the subassemblies (such as the array of light meters, and the wide angle assembly camera bars with their ball heads) were left assembled for transport. This reduced the total time needed to unpack and set up to about an hour. This was done partly because weather prospects for the 2024 path of totality in the USA were not very good, and I wanted to be able to change sites (if necessary) as late as eclipse day.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Custom Camera, etc., Brackets for the 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
Custom Camera, etc., Brackets for 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
Most of the brackets toward the front of either side were made by a kind neighbor before the 2017 total solar eclipse. Most of the rest were made or modified for the 2024 eclipse, being made in either late 2017, or in 2018, or 2024. The small 20mm LeapLumin brand ball heads (less than $20 each on Amazon, and shown on the central dual wide angle bracket) were more stable than some 25mm to 29mm ball heads I had previously tried, and there was no need for an Arca plate. (The same company also made the metal cell phone holder (center of the three on the bracket at center left) that was used to hold one of the light meters.) For one of the tripods, the small custom wedge at lower left is used instead of a large Gitzo PL5 head like that shown at the lower right.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Equipment Packed and Ready for the 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
I also had hotel and site reservations. All that was missing was a ride to the path of totality!
Left: Equipment Packed and Ready for 8 April 2024 Total Eclipse. Right: Same, for 2017.
LEFT: Equipment for 2024 total solar eclipse. The 2024 eclipse equipment would fit in less space if each assembly was separated into its separate components. But it was packed as shown because this allowed several assemblies to be kept intact for the trip. This reduced set up time from several hours to less than one hour. The tripods all fit in the rolling black case toward the rear, along with my clothes. (Tripods in the background are not part of the setup.) Much of the equipment was unpacked on the night of 7 April, in order to use some of it to image the partial solar eclipse, which is all I was going to see from Los Angeles.
RIGHT: Equipment packed for the 2017 total solar eclipse, for comparison. Most of the tripods used in 2017 were not short enough to fit in cases.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



Specific Minor Assemblies or Components:

Pairing TeleVue 60 Telescope with Starizona EVO-FF V2 Field Flattener

The TeleVue 60 telescope produces excellent central images, but it has a lot of field curvature. Fortunately, the TV60 telescope can provide a reasonably flat field when used with the Starizona EVO-FF V2 field flattener. When the field flattener is used, the size of the Airy disk is only enlarged about 1.5 times, which is a negligible amount for wide field observing or imaging at f/6.

TeleVue 60 Telescope, with Accessories Including a Starizona EVO-FF V2 Field Flattener.
The 360mm focal length of the Televue 60 (60mm f/6) telescope is longer than the 250mm focal length for which the EVO-FF V2 field flattener was designed. However, the field flattener works reasonably well with the TV60 if the distance between its lenses and the focal plane is modified a little by using a short mirrorless camera T-ring with appropriate extension tubes. The accessories here facilitate using the flattener both visually and for photography.
- Just left of center (in the top row of accessories) is an assembly that includes a 1.25 inch T-adapter, a 28mm T2 (T-thread) extension tube, and the Starizona EVO-FF V2 field flattener.
- Immediately to the right is a T2 extension tube (having a 1.25 inch inside diameter with compression ring) and a short T-ring for Fuji X. This combination provides the right back focus distance for photography with the field flattener. The flattener is what made the TeleVue 60 a useful telescope. (I was going to sell it due to its field curvature, but then I tried the Field Flattener, and that made it a keeper. But I still would like to implement a focus lock screw.)
- To use the EVO-FF visually, the 28mm T2 extension tube is removed from the left assembly and screwed into the front of the right assembly. Then the EVO-FF is screwed directly into the front of the resulting stack of two T2 tubes.
-- The front of the EVO-FF is then inserted into a 1.25 inch eyepiece holder, and an eyepiece is used in the rear T2 ring. This only works for straight through viewing with the TeleVue 60, because the diagonal requires too much back focus to work with the field flattener (with its own required back focus) in its eyepiece holder.
- The shown eyepieces are a 7mm Type 1 Nagler (left) and a 4mm Plossl (right). In the center is a custom 1.8mm (equivalent) eyepiece that I made decades ago, using a negative 9mm achromatic lens and a 9.7mm Plossl eyepiece.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


TeleVue 60 Telescope, in its case with all of the accessories pictured in the photo above.
Foam in the case was obviously modified from the factory configuration to accommodate the extra accessories. Most items are kept in plastic bags within the case for a little extra protection. The field flattener assembly is shown attached to the telescope in the "Corona Still Image... Assembly" section above, and in the "Last Minute Instrumentation Changes..." section below. Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

Moon at EDGE of APS frame, with TeleVue 60 Telescope and EVO-FF V2 Field Flattener.
Focus was set when the moon was in the center of the frame, then its image was moved off-axis for this heavily cropped photo. The optimum back focus distance with the TV60 differs slightly from the 55mm design back focus of the flattener. I have not yet star tested the combination. Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Custom Compact Wedge for Telescope Mounts and Star Trackers:

The custom compact wedge I designed made a significant difference in the weight of the system, and reduced setup time. Its envelope is not much larger than a 3 inch cube. A drawing of it, showing positions of the wedge plate for a range of different latitudes, is shown below. There was only time to build one wedge before the eclipse, while two would have been preferred.

Custom Compact Wedge for Takahashi Teegul, Fornax LighTrack II, and other mounts.
The prototype wedge was designed to screw directly onto the 3/8-16 threaded stud of a tripod.
- However, it was found to be more versatile if a 3/8-16 knurled head screw could be used to attach the wedge to a threaded plate in the eclipse assembly.
- For this reason (to prevent mechanical interference between the attachment screw and the screw that attaches a mount to the wedge plate) the shown design is about 1/8 inch taller than the original. This may be increased up to another 1/4 inch, to allow for larger knurled heads on either or both of the 3/8-16 screws.
- The wedge also accepts mounts with 1/4-20 threaded holes, and it has a built-in level attached to its base plate.
- The wedge design uses pairs of holes to accommodate different latitudes (as opposed to an adjustable tilting wedge plate) because the hole pairs are more stable and foolproof.
-- The angle settings are not exact for every latitude when using hole pairs, but the tilt of the level can be adjusted to show level at exact latitudes that may differ from the wedge plate angle by up to 2 degrees.
- A spacer plate is used with the AstroTrac TT320x, to keep the wedge side plates from interfering with its polar alignment scope arm.
-- The final wedge plate will have an inverted U shape (as seen from its ends) to eliminate the need for a spacer plate.
- To save time, the wedge was just sketched to scale in PowerPoint, rather than making a normal dimension drawing.
Copyright 2023, 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



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Last Minute Instrumentation Changes to Accommodate Only a Partial Solar Eclipse

Late at night on Friday, 5 April, 2024, it became apparent that all options to get to the path of totality had either failed to materialize or had fallen through. This meant that a partial solar eclipse was all that I would be able to see, even though the path of totality was tantalizingly close, especially for a person who used to travel across the world to see a total solar eclipse.

Those of us who have witnessed a total solar eclipse tend to adopt a saying that: "If you've seen one partial [eclipse], you've seen them all.". That pretty much summed up my own attitude about partial solar eclipses, with the exception of that I wanted to see an annular eclipse.

I was unable to go to the annular eclipse in 2023 because of POA responsibilities for my (now late) friend, the fact that October was a critical time for him, and the fact that I had no energy for a trip at that time. The latter was partly because the responsibility used all of my reserves, and bereavement over the passing of Willma Alcocer in Bolivia took the rest of the wind out of me for months. My 3 Nov, 1994 total solar eclipse journal (also at this web site) describes who Willma Alcocer was.

After it became apparent that it would not be possible to go to the path of totality in April 2024, I decided to image the partial eclipse anyway, even though doing so would be very anticlimactic.

To add a little spice to the partial eclipse, I decided to use a Coronado PST to observe and image it in Hydrogen Alpha light that would reveal the same prominences that would have been visible during totality.

For those unfamiliar with a Coronado (later acquired by Meade) PST: The PST is a 40mm aperture, f/10 refractor telescope having a built-in narrow band Hydrogen Alpha filter with a center wavelength of about 656.28 nm. The front element of the PST has a coating that rejects a broad range of wavelengths that are well outside of the H-Alpha band, to reduce heating of other components inside the telescope. Well behind the objective lens (more than half way to the focal surface) is an etalon filter that can be tilted, for fine tuning the wavelength that is admitted. Behind that is a blocking filter that removes additional wavelengths, including harmonic bands passed by the etalon. The bandwidth (FWHM or greater extinction) of my PST is about 0.8 Angstroms.

In addition, I planned to take video in H-Alpha, to see if the moon would cover prominences before reaching the solar photosphere, or uncover prominences after uncovering the photosphere. It turned out that the moon did gradually cover a large triangular prominence before the partial phase of the eclipse, and then it uncovered two more prominences after the partial phase was over!

Since I was fairly tired and deflated from everything falling through in terms of seeing a total solar eclipse, it took longer than usual to UNPACK the setup and then reconfigure it for a partial eclipse, while adding the Coronado PST to the mix. The final setup for the partial eclipse is pictured below, as set up outdoors for (what was for me) the 8 April 2024 partial solar eclipse.

While this is a very minor experiment, I also recreated circumstances under which the chrome corner of one of my rigid camera cases had reflected/formed a relatively large image of the partial phase of the 2017 solar eclipse on the ground shortly before totality. This was successful, except that the chrome parts of the case actually produced three small images of the sun, plus the one larger image. The nature of vegetation on the ground in Idaho, and the relative direction from which the reflection from the case occurred, may have accounted for why I only saw one of these smaller solar images in 2017.

Equipment Set Up for the Total Partial Solar Eclipse in Texas Los Angeles, CA.
LEFT: Since I was stuck with having to see only a partial solar eclipse from Los Angeles (mainly because a long outage of Frontier Internet AND Phone service prevented arranging transportation to the path of totality in time), some of the equipment is different than what would have been used in Texas.
- For example, there is no need for wide angle imaging to capture the umbra during a partial solar eclipse, but a Hydrogen-Alpha filter is useful. Also, when a partial eclipse is all that is being imaged, longer focal lengths can be used. From left to right, the equipment used here for the partial solar eclipse includes:
On the foreground tripod:
- Custom compact telescope I made from a 300mm f/6.3 Rokinon mirror lens, with a 58mm solar filter on the front.
- TeleVue 60 (60mm f/6) telescope with solar filter and Starizona EVO-FF field flattener on a Fujifilm X-T20 camera.
- Borg 76 ED (76mm f/7.1) telescope with 77mm solar filter, Borg 1.08x field flattener (telescope is 76mm f/7.1 with the FF), and a Nikon 1.4x tele-converter (for a 756mm focal length), on a Fujifilm X-T20 camera.
- All three of these telescopes are on a small Takahashi Teegul equatorial mount, which is in turn mounted on the compact wedge I designed. (Wedge is shown in the previous custom bracket photo, and in a drawing after that.)
- The Takahashi mount and Borg telescope were not going to be used for the total eclipse, because there had not been time to test the mount when this heavily loaded. However, it performed adequately during the partial eclipse. The mount can handle more weight than a standard one (without developing wobble like a standard one) because I added tapped holes that facilitate bolting the GEM declination casting assembly directly to the other mount components.
On the Closest Tripod on the Right:
- Ad Astra III telescope and solar filter, configured for visual use.
- Coronado PST Hydrogen-Alpha telescope with 12mm eyepiece. The Fuji X-T10 camera used to take this picture can be interchanged with the eyepiece. I use a Barlow lens with the camera adapter to get enough back focus.
- Both of these telescopes are mounted on a Fornax LighTrack II mount. As the run time indicator I added to to the Fornax mount shows, the mount is very close to the end of its tracking time.
On the Right Background Tripod:
Fujifilm X-T10 with 28mm manual focus lens and solar filter, for eclipse sequence imaging via its internal interval timer.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


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2024 Total Partial Solar Eclipse Images: Sequence, Partial Phases, H-Alpha, etc.:

Images of 8 April, 2024 Total Partial Solar Eclipse.
© Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles. All Rights Reserved.
Sequence Image of the 8 April 2024 partial solar eclipse in L.A.
This sequence image was taken with a Fujifilm X-T10 camera and an adapted 28mm rangefinder lens working at f/8. The exposure for each solar image was 1/125 second at ISO 200 through a glass solar filter. A strong green Hoya G(X1) filter was stacked with the solar filter to get yellow (rather than orange) solar images. (These better utilize the dominant green filtered pixels in the camera.) One photo was taken every four minutes. The foreground cactus photo was taken with the same camera and an 18mm lens, when the sun was out of the picture after the eclipse. A couple of solar photos were missed a little over half an hour into the eclipse, so neighboring solar images were duplicated to fill in the gap. I would cut, scale, rotate, and paste in corresponding partial solar eclipse photos that were taken through the telescope to make that part of the sequence more accurate, but I'm not very motivated to put that much work into this photo when it is only a partial eclipse sequence (because the 9-day service outage by Frontier prevented arranging transportation to the path of totality). Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.
This is a low resolution 640 pixel wide image. Click HERE for a larger image (2560 x 1440, 120 KB)


3D Stereo Image of Maximum Eclipse during the 2024 partial solar eclipse in L.A.
The 3D stereo effect is caused by the moon moving toward one side (relative to the sun) between the time each picture was taken. The pictures were taken two minutes apart. Both images were taken with a Borg 76ED telescope with a Borg 1.08x field flattener and Nikon 1.4x tele-converter (for a 756mm focal length), on a Fujifilm X-T20 camera. Exposure is 1/500 sec. at f/10, ISO 800.
- To see the images in 3D, cross your eyes until the solar images merge, while trying to keep them in focus. (Counting what is in peripheral vision, when the photos are properly merged, there may appear to be three images, with the center one having the apparent 3D effect.) Not everyone is able to see the 3D effect, but it is usually easiest when the photos are viewed from a distance of more than four times the displayed width of the image pair. To reduce risk of eye strain (and headache), it is best to only attempt to see the images in 3D for up to 30 seconds per day during the first few days, then for up to a minute on later days. Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Close-Up Stereo Image of Maximum Eclipse during the 2024 partial solar eclipse in L.A.
Here, the moon moved relative to the pictured sunspot group. These images are cropped from the above wider field photos. The images are more or less oriented to have celestial northwest (rather than celestial north) at the top. This is done so the moon's apparent motion in front of the sun will be from right to left, as opposed to an odd angle. (In other words, the moon did not appear to move purely in a celestial west to east direction at this eclipse.) This is because:
A.) Compared to geographical east and west on the earth, the total eclipse path across the USA runs more from the southwest toward the northeast. The same is true of the moon's motion in regard to celestial east and west.
B.) This is mostly due to three attributes of the 8 April eclipse:
1. The eclipse occurred near the time of spring equinox. Therefore, as seen from the sun, earth's axis was tilted almost 23.5 degrees clockwise with respect to a direction perpendicular to its orbital plane. (Another way of putting it is: At the solar position on 8 April, the ecliptic is tilted with respect to east-west by the corresponding angle.)
2. The eclipse occurred on the ascending node, or when the moon was crossing the plane of earth's orbit from the south toward the north. This adds another 5.145 degrees to the angle.
3. Lastly, in the central part of the total eclipse path, earth's rotation tends to follow the west to east component of the moon's motion. This slows down the west to east speed of the lunar umbra at the earth's surface, without slowing the north to south component as much. This causes the eclipse path to depart even farther from a west to east direction.
C.) All of the above has a similar effect of the apparent direction that the moon moves in relation to the sun in a partial eclipse. This happens to a degree with most solar eclipses, but it was fairly pronounced for the 8 April 2024 eclipse.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Hydrogen-Alpha Images of Moon Covering and Uncovering Prominences:
The moon covers a prominence immediately before the 2024 partial solar eclipse in L.A.
TOP: This prominent (pun intended) triangular prominence was obvious to those in the path of totality. The prominence looks bright because it was near the sweet spot in the Coronado PST Hydrogen-Alpha telescope used to take this photo. Unfortunately, I centered the sun during the sequence that follows, and that made the prominences look dimmer. (However, if the dim prominence images are later stacked with the brighter prominence image and used as masks, it may provide a brighter result.)
SECOND: The outer part of the triangular prominence is just beginning to be covered by the moon.
THIRD: The moon covers more of the prominence before it begins to eclipse the solar photosphere.
LAST: The moon begins to eclipse the solar photosphere after it has fully covered the large triangular prominence.
Images were taken with a Coronado PST Hydrogen-Alpha telescope, a Barlow lens, and a Fuji X-T10 camera. The top image is cropped from a still image. The next three images are cropped screen shots from my video. The video shows (dimly imaged) prominences being covered in real time. Prominences in this series were not in the "sweet spot" of my PST (this is particularly true for the third image), so they look fairly dim in these photos. The prominences and solar limb are in the sweet spot for the next set of images, below. Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


The moon uncovers prominences immediately after the end of the 2024 partial solar eclipse.
LEFT: The moon begins to uncover a prominence just above the center of the image.
CENTER: The moon uncovers more of the central prominence, and begins to uncover a second prominence above it.
RIGHT: As the moon continued to move toward the left, both prominences became completely uncovered.
Images were taken with a Coronado PST H-Alpha telescope, a Barlow lens, and a Fuji X-T10 camera. The original is a video, so it shows prominences being uncovered in real time. Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



2024 Total Partial Solar Eclipse Images: Partial Phases, H-Alpha, etc. (Sequence)

Place Holder for 2024 (Partial) Solar Eclipse Sequence Photo.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



Solar Eclipse Images Formed by Chrome Corner of Accessory Case.

Solar Eclipse Images Formed by Chrome Corner of Accessory Case in 2017 and 2024.
LEFT: When the sun was close to 85 percent eclipsed at the 2017 total solar eclipse (about 16 minutes before totality), a relatively large image of the crescent sun appeared on the ground. It was three or four times larger than an image that would result from pinhole projection from the most distant part of my equipment. There was also a bright spot at the location that would correspond to the center of the sun if it had not been eclipsed. Some time after the 2017 eclipse, I determined that it must have formed by the chrome corner on the black accessory case on the table to the upper left. Later tests showed that the chrome to formed a similar size image of the un-eclipsed sun under similar conditions. However, the formation of a crescent image could not really be verified in the absence of another solar eclipse.
RIGHT: During the 8 April, 2024 solar eclipse, I replicated circumstances from 2017, to the extent possible with the higher 2024 solar elevation angle. Results from the 2024 eclipse (as seen from L.A.) near maximum eclipse, are in the right image. The background image shows the case on the right and the projection surface on the left. The center inset image is a larger photo of the projection surface. The case actually forms three small solar images and one large one. The lowest of the smaller images would not have been visible in 2017, because the table masked reflections from the lower fittings on the case. Toward the top of the 2024 projection surface, the case projected the eclipse as two small images, with a larger image surrounding the upper of these. However, in the large image, the center of the wide crescent is projected more dimly than its cusps. This dimmer area would not have influenced the 2017 image, because the 2017 crescent would have been oriented almost 180 degrees from this one (relative to the case), after accounting for the solar position angles that were eclipsed. Copyright 2017, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


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Appendix A: 2024 Total Eclipse Image, Video, Data Acquisition Procedure (Timeline):


As for previous total solar eclipses, it was useful to develop a procedure that can be rehearsed before the eclipse, then used at the eclipse. This increases the number of cameras and instruments that it is practical to use. A draft outline of the part of my 2024 eclipse procedure that was for use at the total solar eclipse site on eclipse day is shown below. To save time when making camera settings, digital cameras that lack dedicated shutter speed and aperture dials are set to 1 EV steps, where possible.

The procedure below is unique to equipment I use, but it illustrates the details that must be considered when preparing for a short duration event (4 minutes of totality) that does not offer a second chance to get things right. If a camera or instrument fails during the eclipse, it is dropped from the procedure. There is no time to fix gadgets at a total solar eclipse! Shown times are for a notional site near the McLane Stadium parking lot in Waco, TX.

On 4 April, the observing site was changed to a grassy area east of the motel (after permission was granted to use it), but the times were not edited because contact time differences between there and the stadium were minimal. (This procedure was not relevant to the partial eclipse from L.A.)


Jeffrey R. Charles - 2024 Eclipse Image/Data Acquisition Procedure (Timeline) v240313, r0403
(Indentation has general first, then indentation increases with focal length.)  PAGE 1 of 2.

MDT	Event 
Time:	Based Time:	Process or Event:

00:00	2c -1 Day	Verify cam. menu settings (PwrM 5+m), cam. clocks, atomic clock, WWV.
			Verify all batteries charged/installed; film loaded in cameras, etc.
			Verify cameras write to cards. Use new mem. if nec. Take test photos.

00:00	2c -2:28:00 G: Arrive On Site (LATEST advised time unless pre-assembled)(1c-1h 20m)
00:00	2c -1:38:00 G: OPTIONAL Video/narration of setup when adeq. assemb.	(1c-20m)
00:00	2c -1:33:00  M: Take/video first light meter readings (both meter types) (1c-15m)
00:00	2c- 1:28:00      C: OPTIONAL: START H-Alpha video (1c- 8m, if use EP3) (1c-11m)

00:00	2c -1:30:00     S: START internal sequence timer (1/2m >6m bef. 1st contact) (1c-9m)
00:00	2c -1:30:00     S: Verify sequence pix captured (internal timer) (view in cam)(1c-8m)
00:00	2c -1:25:00      C: START Fornax video/still camera trackers, verify tracking (1c-6m)
00:00	2c -1:22:00      C: Still photo of full sun (over 3 m before 1st contact) (1c-4m)
00:00	2c -1:20:00      C: Start long focal length VIDEO cameras (1 m bef. 1c) (1c-2m)

00:00	2c -1:18:00 FIRST CONTACT! 00:00:00				(1c)
00:00	2c -1:18:00      C: Observe early part of ingress.	* (TAPE focus rings)
00:00	2c -1:18:00      C: Take a few ingress photos in first 1-2 minutes
00:00	2c -1:16:00      C: OPTIONAL: Stop H-Alpha video (1-2 min. after 1c)
00:00	2c -1:14:00      C: STOP long focal length video cameras (2-4 min. after 1c)

00:00  2c -1:12:00  M: Take short video 2nd light meter readings (both meter types) (1c+6m)
00:00  2c -1:10:00    W: Take first wide angle photos (light curve backup); Turn OFF WA cams.
00:00  2c -1:05:00 G: Take more (or START) narrated video of setup.
00:00  2c -0:55:00 G: TEST INTERVAL TIMER for 1 MIN, verify multiple photos captured.
00:00  2c -0:43:00      C: RESET Fornax Trackers and re-center sun in cameras.	(1c+35m)
00:00  2c -0:35:00  M: Take 3rd still/video of light meter rdgs (both meter types), narrate.

00:00  2c -0:30:00     S: REPLACE battery in camera(s) used for sequence.
00:00  2c -0:25:00   V: Take 1st 250 deg. photos (AUTO Exp, -1 Exp. Cmp) + short 250 d. vid.
00:00  2c -0:20:00 G: Check status of all cameras, incl. internal sequence interval timer.
00:00  2c -0:15:00  M: TURN ON all METERS, START Light Meter VIDEO (tmout 3c +10:30)
00:00  2c -0:12:00      C: Check sun centering in cameras, re-point as needed; acct f/drift.
00:00  2c -0:08:00 G: TURN ON ALL cameras that are not already on (requires 55 seconds)

00:00  2c -0:07:00   V: Second 250 deg. photo.  * 2c -0:06:30 Set Nik. N2020/12mm ISO to 250.
00:00  2c -0:05:30   V: Third 250 deg. photo, START 360 (250 fisheye) video.
00:00  2c -0:05:00    W: START & VERIFY ALL wide angle VIDEO cameras (timeout 3c+5.5)
00:00  2c -0:04:30   V: Fifth 250 deg. (F/2.8, ISO 200) photo (shutter speed: 1/125)
00:00  2c -0:04:00    W: START 180/250 deg. fisheye INTERVAL TIMER box (4.5 sec/photo)
00:00  2c -0:03:30      C: Briefly remove 250/300mm video / TV60 solar filters (corona check)
			Turn Page (Next step is Start 250 deg. Video at 2C -0:03:00)

Jeffrey R. Charles - 2024 Eclipse Image/Data Acquisition Procedure (Timeline) v240313, r0403
(Indentation has general first, then indentation increases with focal length.)  PAGE 2 of 2.

MDT	Event 
Time:	Based Time:	Process or Event:

00:00  2c -0:03:00   V: START 250 deg. VIDEO (IF 1080p; do at -2:30 if 4k) (timeout 3c+7.5)
00:00  2c -0:02:30   V: SET 250 deg. STILL shutter speed to 1/60. (IF NOT on AUTO)
00:00  2c -0:02:15      C: START and VERIFY all CORONA VIDEO.
00:00  2c -0:01:30   V: SET 250 deg. still shutter speed to 1/30 (or leave on AUTO if zoned)
00:00  2c -0:01:00   V: SET 250 deg. still shutter speed to 1/15 (or leave on AUTO)

00:00  2c -0:00:45      C: REMOVE first SOLAR FILTER (Ord: Seq. N2020, EP3, Camc, T500, rem)
00:00  2c -0:00:20      C: REMOVE last solar filter
00:00  2c -0:00:15      C: Set TeleVue 60 camera (Fuji X-T10a) shutter to 1/2000.
00:00  2c -0:00:10   V: SET 250 deg. still shutter speed to 1/2 or 1/4 (leave AUTO if zoned)

00:00  2c  2C      SECOND CONTACT! - TOTALITY (13:38:01, Waco)  LOOK at it!
00:00  2c +0:00:05   V: SET 250 deg. still shutter speed to 1 sec.
00:00  2c +0:00:10      C: Set TeleVue 60 camera (f/6) Fuji shutter to 1/2000, then 2~4 sec.
00:00  2c +0:00:45      C: Set Ad-Astra (f/10) Nikon shutter to 1/125, then 1~2 s.
00:00  2c +0:01:25   V: Various stuff (Ricoh Theta S pix, if not auto, etc.
00:00  2c +0:02:00      C: Corona Series, up to 4 sec. w/TV60, 1x EIGHT SEC. w/AdAstra
00:00  2c +0:03:30    V: Look for UMBRA boundary in all directions, image w/east 180 fisheye.
00:00  2c +0:04:00      C: Set TeleVue 60 camera shutter to 1/30 or 1/60 (for diamond ring).
00:00  2c +0:00:00 G: LOOK at CORONA in scope and/or binoculars to 11:32:14 (3c-15s)
00:00  2c +0:00:00 (3c -00:15) [Set long FL corona cam shutter speed to 1/250?]
00:00  2c +0:00:00 (3c -00:11) Set pano/all sky shutters to 1/2 sec. (Optional)
00:00  2c +0:00:00 (3c -00:05) LOOK at eclipse for third contact.

00:00  3c  3C      THIRD CONTACT! 00:00:00  LOOK! (13:42:12, Waco)
00:00  3c +0:00:00 Set pano/all sky shutters to 1/4 (or 1/8)(if not prev.)(or put on AUTO).
00:00  3c +0:00:00 REPLACE solar filters on video cameras, then still cameras.
00:00  3c +0:00:00 Set pano/all sky shutters to 1/8 sec. (or use AUTO if not set already).
00:00  3c +0:00:40   V: Look for UMBRA boundary in all directions, image w/east 180 fisheye.
00:00  3c +0:01:15      C: OPT: Briefly rem. 250/300mm / TV 60 solar filters, corona check)
00:00  2c +0:02:00      C: Briefly rem. 250/300mm / TV 60 solar filt, 1/1000 corona check)
00:00  3c +0:02:30      C: Briefly rem. TeleVue 60 / Ad Astra solar filt, 1/2000 corona ck)
00:00  2c +0:03:00      C: Briefly rem. 250/300mm solar filter, corona check)
00:00  3c +0:03:30      C: Briefly rem. TeleVue 60 / Ad Astra solar filt, 1/4000 corona ck)
00:00  3c +0:04:30 G: STOP all video cameras.
00:00  2c +0:06:00  M: Photo/video of light meter readings (both types) * & at +10, 20m.

15:00:43   4C	   FOURTH CONTACT! (3C+1:18:00) 15:00:43 (Waco) Observe and time it!
15:00:52 4c+0:00:09     C: View sun in H-Alpha, image if moon vis. against prominence.
15:06:00 4c +0:05:17  M: Take final meter pix. 
15:08:00 4c +0:07:17 Take any missed setup pix/video, dismantle, pack, leave site.
15:15:43	      G: END Procedure (sans re-pack, copy photos from mem. cards, etc.)

Stats / Times of 8 April 2024 Total Solar Eclipse, by (Texas) City or Area:
City:	 Lat.   Long. T Az. TElev  Width   1 Con.    2 Con.    T Dur. 3 Con.	4 Con.
Leakey	
Uvald.	29.21  98.79  174.0  68.0  120 mi  12:12:12  13:29:40  4:16   13:33:56	14:53:20
Comf.	29.97  98.91  178.0  68.0  120 mi	     13:28:07  4:14 ? 13:
Kerv.					   12:14:40  13:32:04  4:24   13:36.28	14:55:30
Waco	31.55  97.15  186.0  66.0	   12:20:30  13:38:01  4:11   13:42:12	15:00:43
S.Dal.	32.78	      188.0		   12:23:18  13:40:43  3:52   13:34:35	15:02:42
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Appendix B: Comparing My Total Solar Eclipse Instrumentation and Results (1979 to 2024):


CONTENTS of Appendix B (scroll to each subject):
  • Background (brief summary of each total solar eclipse expedition)
  • Equipment for (and Results from) Total Solar Eclipse of 26 Feb. 1979.
  • Equipment for (and Results from) Total Solar Eclipse of 11 Jul. 1991.
  • Equipment for (and Results from) Total Solar Eclipse of 03 Nov. 1994.
  • Equipment for (and Results from) Total Solar Eclipse of 24 Oct. 1995.
  • Equipment for (and Results from) Total Solar Eclipse of 21 Aug. 2017.
  • Equipment for (NO Results from) Total Solar Eclipse of 08 Apr. 2024.
  • Equipment for a Future (foreign) Total Solar Eclipse?
Background (brief summary of each eclipse expedition):

Between the time of my first total solar eclipse in 1979 and the present time, there have been limitations on the scope and type of equipment I could use at a total solar eclipse. At first, and then again in the late 1990's, the main limitation was financial. In the mid 1990's, the main limitation was that work obligations limited how much time was available to prepare. In later years, health became the main limitation.

As more total solar eclipses were observed over time, the aspects of each eclipse I wanted to emphasize began to take shape. As the emphasis of what I wanted to accomplish changed, and as the amount of time and funds that could be budgeted for eclipse instruments varied, there were of course corresponding changes in the instrumentation that was actually used.

This chapter starts with an overview of each eclipse trip (see my eclipse journals at this web site for details), then specific descriptions of each eclipse setup follows. Only a few of the equipment descriptions have photos thus far, but it is envisioned that more photos will be added over time.

1979:

My first total solar eclipse was in 1979. Since I had not seen a total eclipse before, I did not know what to expect. The emphasis of all material I could find was on observing and imaging the corona, but my own thoughts were that it should be possible to see the boundary moon's shadow (or umbra) at certain times near or during a totality, though I then had no idea what this would look like. I decided to use the 16mm Minolta Rokkor-X fisheye lens that I already had to image what could be seen of the lunar umbra.

Because I was not very well off financially in 1979 (my job at the time paid only $3.50 per hour), the equipment used for the 1979 total solar eclipse had to be more or less limited to what I already had. The sole exceptions were that I rented a 300mm f/4.5 pre-set lens from a pawn shop to use at the 1979 eclipse, and I acquired two tripods at a garage sale.

At the 1979 eclipse, the light show put on by the leading edge of the umbra was a sight to behold, and I have never seen anything else like it to this day. Less than half a minute into totality, it was possible to see the leading edge of the umbra move away toward the east and northeast in real time, with yellow, orange, and red color appearing low in the sky ahead of it. At one point closer to mid totality, I could even see distant high clouds that were still in sunlight - through the umbra, at an elevation angle well above the local projection of the umbra's boundary onto cirrus clouds.

From then on, I decided to take wide angle photos at any total solar eclipse I could get to, with the goal of taking multiple 360 degree panoramas before, during, and after totality. One goal of taking such panoramas was to use them in developing a way to forecast (and even simulate or reproduce) where the boundary of the umbra appears most impressive, or where the strongest color outside of the umbra boundary will be located. One paper at this web site (titled "Predicting the Appearance of the Lunar Umbra at Future Total Solar Eclipses") is based on my early work in this area.

Moderately high thin clouds were present during the 1979 eclipse, but a little less than a solar radius of corona was visible through them. The local clouds provided a good "projection screen" for the edge of the lunar umbra, and for the first minute after second contact, motion of the leading edge of the umbra could be observed in real time.

It was not possible to go to another total solar eclipse until 1991, mainly because finances did not permit it. And the inability to get health insurance while self employed (due to "preexisting conditions") was the main reason that finances were scarce during that time.

1991:

In 1991, finances still prevented purchasing equipment specifically for the eclipse, but I was able to make and modify things in my machine shop at relatively low cost.

One of the things I modified was the tube of my 94mm f/7 refractor telescope. The tube, front cell, dewcap, and focuser were all modified to implement a retractable dewcap, and to reduce the tube length by about 4 cm. This made it short enough to transport while fully assembled, even in relatively conservative 20 inch long carry on luggage. It also made the telescope more versatile, since this provided more back focus distance behind the telescoping focuser drawtube.

The most significant thing I built was a one-of-a-kind motorized indexing panoramic platform that facilitated taking 360 degree panoramas simply by alternately pushing two buttons. It could capture 360 degree panoramas in 2, 3, 4, or even 6 or more shots, depending on the lens used.

The 1991 eclipse was the only total eclipse at which I was clouded out. However, if annular eclipses are counted, I was also clouded out at the 4 January 1992 annular eclipse. At both eclipses, the view of the sun was clear until less than 45 minutes before maximum eclipse. In 1991, low clouds over the mountains moved toward the shore in Mazatlan and thickened. On later days, clouds over the mountains had a tendency to do similar things toward early evening.

1994:

For the 3 Nov. 1994 total solar eclipse, finances were not really a problem, but time to work on eclipse instruments was scarce. So for the most part, existing equipment had to be used again. This increased the amount of luggage that had to be transported.

However, because I began preparing for the eclipse over a year in advance, it was possible to invest over 100 hours in preparation. A good part of this time went toward developing a workable procedure, lightening my equipment, and simplifying its operation.

Among other things, it was possible to design and build a pulsed stepping motor clock drive for my Aus-Jena German equatorial mount (GEM) that ran on a 9-volt battery, and this reduced the weight of what had to be transported by about 7 pounds (a little over 3 kg). More importantly, the stepping motor drive facilitated running the drive in reverse, so the mount could be used in the southern hemisphere.

In addition, commutators were added to the panoramic camera platform, so the camera could be fired without having to configure a coiled wire before each roll of film. The Vernonscope 94mm telescope was also modified to have an iris diaphragm, though the purpose of adding this was unrelated to the eclipse.

As for the expedition itself, the 1994 trip to Bolivia was the most traumatic eclipse expedition I ever experienced, if not the most traumatic trip of any kind I ever experienced. Possibly for that reason, it was the last SOLO expedition to another country that I ever attempted. The source of the problem was an aspiring yet failed far-right Bolivian politician and his rich buddies. They coerced me to do things for them and lived down to every stereotype about South American politics.

Within hours of arriving in Bolivia, and without any advance notice, these people demanded that I speak at over a dozen schools for rich children, plus some universities (mostly before the eclipse), presumably so the failed politician could take credit for (supposedly) "arranging" for me to speak at them. (This may have backfired on them, because they did not allow time for much needed rest after I arrived, and I became so ill [see below] that my presentations were quite boring.)

The failed politician's brother had run in the 1993 Bolivian Presidential election, and come in 6th place. (See results of the "1993 Bolivian general election" on Wikipedia for his name.) Then the failed politician got it in his head that he would run for President in a later election, even though he could not govern his way out of a paper bag. In the end, he never did run for President.

And there was more to the politics: One of the other men involved in coercing me had long been the friend of a man who later became Vice President of Bolivia. But this Vice President was not far-right like the failed politician. In fact, decades later, this Vice President was deposed in the coup of 10 Nov. 2019. A coup that was perpetrated by people with ideologies similar to those of the failed far-right politician.

In 1994, I became so ill from the sleep deprivation, stress, and exhaustion that was imposed by the demands of those men that my pelvic floor muscles gave out early in the trip, causing a prolapse problem to become a lot worse. Major surgery was required after the trip to correct that aspect of the problem.

But I also encountered one of the most extraordinary (in a good way) people I ever met on the same trip. She was the director (principal) at a primary school attended mostly by poor students.

And (of course) the failed politician, and the rich men he knew, were opposed to her and her work. Before I left the USA, her school had asked me if I'd speak there, but the Politician and his rich buddies wanted to prevent me from speaking at schools attended by poor or indigenous children, and especially at her school (Colegio Buenas Nuevas). It was a trip of contrasts. (Sadly, the same failed politician made things difficult for this school director in later years.)

1995:

In 1995, being laid off from my job on 23 June meant that the prospect of finances being an issue was once again on the horizon. However, it was still possible to see the 1995 eclipse, due to an extraordinarily low cost trip to Thailand that was unrelated to the eclipse.

It was also possible to reduce the volume and weight of the equipment to an extent that it would fit into two carry on bags. Being able to modify existing parts, or machine custom parts, is what helped make the paired back system as small as it was.

Instead of a telescope, I used a 300mm f/4.5 ED Nikkor lens with a 2x Barlow lens. (Details are in the 1995 eclipse equipment section below.) This did not provide as good an image as the 94mm f/7 telescope, but it was small and light enough that the 1995 eclipse setup fit into carry on bags.

Also, I added a variable timing circuit and relays to the panoramic platform control box, to automate most aspects of its operation. The circuit also had an auxiliary output that was used to fire the corona camera at a time when the panoramic camera platform was not rotating (and thus vibrating the tripod). This equipment was used at the 24 Oct. 1995 total solar eclipse in Thailand.

The 1995 trip was the most trouble free and successful eclipse expedition I ever experienced. It was the same for the (now late) Pierre-y Schwaar, who had accompanied me to the 1995 eclipse.

After 1995, it was not possible to see another eclipse until 2017. This is mainly because finances prevented international travel between 1995 and about 2003, and a combination of health and work obligations prevented long distance travel after mid 2001.

2017:

It was possible to observe the 21 Aug. 2017 total solar eclipse only because the path of totality was in my home country. For the 2017 eclipse, it appeared that there would be both time and finances to work on a good set of eclipse instruments. This appeared to be the case even though my health was an issue, in that I lacked the stamina to work on it more than a few hours each month. But I had about 12 months of this sparse monthly time to prepare equipment for the 2017 eclipse.

However, late June 2017 coincided with when I needed to begin to acquire Medicare Supplement health insurance. The State mandated that carriers must provide guaranteed issue to anyone in my situation, but the reality was that I got multiple disqualification letters from insurance companies, UNTIL I contacted the State Commissioner of Insurance about the matter. This health insurance problem continued until almost mid August.

Five weeks of this fighting with health insurance companies (to try to obtain health insurance that was supposed to be guaranteed issue) prevented completing the 2017 eclipse instrumentation, and imposed the need to leave several days later than planned for the eclipse. This in turn rushed my travel to the eclipse site.

The result was that I was very ill during the 2017 eclipse, and unable to operate any of my equipment even close to as well as I had been able to in practice runs I had performed at home.

The 2017 eclipse was the high point in the number of cameras that were utilized (or that were intended to be utilized). But it was also the low point in terms of successful use of the equipment.

2024:

During the three years and four months before the 8 April, 2024 total solar eclipse, responsibilities related to being Power of Attorney for an elderly friend prevented eclipse preparations. After this began to wind down in early February of 2024, it appeared that it would (barely) be possible to complete the instrumentation in time for the 2024 eclipse, and it was in fact completed in time.

However, a long outage of Phone AND Internet service by Frontier communications (from mid through late March 2024) prevented putting the trip together in time. After the end of the long Frontier outage, I was able to arrange both lodging and an eclipse site, but not the transportation.

And it is CERTAIN that I could/would have made it to the 2024 eclipse IF the Frontier outage had not happened, or if it had been substantially shorter than the NINE consecutive days that it lasted. This is known because the sole deciding factor was how much advance notice the driver had to give to his employer to get time off work in time for the eclipse trip.

The 2024 eclipse setup was the best one, partly because it was the most defined, because most of the bugs had been worked out, because (in comparison to its functionality) it was fairly easy to set up and use, because a good part of its operation was automated, and because it had some redundancy for the most important functions.

Summary of Combined Eclipse Results:

A summary table of results versus what was planned for each total solar eclipse follows:

ECLIPSE DATE:	LOCATION:	  CAMERAS: SUCCESS: NOTES:
- 26 Feb. 1979	Grassrange MT, USA    6	     62%    First Total Solar Eclipse
- 11 Jul. 1991	Mazatlan, Mexico      5      63%    Cloudy, But Phot. Umbra
- 03 Nov. 1994	Sevaruyo, Bolivia     9	    49-57%  Rich/Politician Interfered
- 24 Oct. 1995	Nakhon S. Thailand    7	    100%    Best Expedition Ever
- 17 Aug. 2017	Mackay ID, USA	     24	     31%    Health Ins. Hassle Bef. Trip
- 08 Apr. 2024	Waco TX/LA CA USA  t16/p4  t6%/p87  Frontier Outage Prevent Trip

Descriptions, Drawings, and Photos of 1979-2024 Eclipse Equipment:

Over time, the following descriptions of each eclipse setup may be expanded, and a drawing of each setup will be added. In cases where I can get access to equipment that can be used to emulate each setup, such equipment will be assembled and photographed in front of a uniform background, to show what each setup looked like in real life. (This will be clearer than existing on-site photos.)

The individual web pages for each eclipse do not currently have as much detail about equipment as what is shown below. Therefore, it is envisioned that appropriate equipment information below will eventually be added to each of the corresponding eclipse web pages.

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Equipment for the 26 February, 1979 Total Solar Eclipse:

The equipment used for the 26 Feb. 1979 total solar eclipse had to more or less be limited to cameras and lenses that I already had. This was not a good situation, because for financial reasons, my equipment consisted of multiple brands and formats of cameras and lenses, with many of the cameras having different lens mounts.

Shortly before the 1979 eclipse, I acquired a couple of small tripods at a garage sale. Combined with borrowing my dad's Albert tripod, this increased the number of cameras it would be practical to use. However, I had not yet thought of using brackets to facilitate using multiple cameras on a single tripod, and some of my cameras were fairly large. This resulted in a set of equipment that took up a lot of space.

Setting up the 1979 equipment was time consuming, because every camera except one was on a separate tripod, and I was using my big 4" x 5" monorail view camera for the sequence photo. It was also COLD on the morning of the eclipse.

Equipment used for the 1979 eclipse included the following. It is listed with the widest angle first, then is ordered according to decreasing field of view:

  • Minolta SRT-101 camera with 16mm f/2.8 Rokkor-X Fisheye lens (for Umbra photos)
  • (28mm f/2.8 and 135mm f/2.8 lenses that could be swapped with the 16mm fisheye.)
  • Kodak Master View Camera with 90mm f/6.8 Angulon lens (for eclipse sequence)
  • Keystone 8mm movie camera with 38mm telephoto lens (for movies of eclipse)
  • Rolleiflex SL66 camera with 250mm f/5.6 Sonnar lens (for wide field of eclipse)
  • Nikon F with 300mm f/4.5 Pre-Set lens and Soligor 2x tele-converter (for corona)
  • Miranda Sensorex II with 400mm f/6.3 lens and Komura 2.5x tele-converter (corona)
  • Other cameras brought to the eclipse site, but for which I had no specific plans, included:
  • Pentax H2 (with a 35mm f/2.8 T-mount lens); and a Yashica Mat TLR.
When facing the eclipse (toward the SE), the order of deployed cameras, from left to right, was:
  • Kodak Master View Camera with 90mm f/6.8 Angulon lens (for eclipse sequence)
  • Nikon F with 300mm f/4.5 Pre-Set lens and 2x converter (on bottom of tripod column)
  • Miranda Sensorex II with 400mm f/6.3 lens and 2.5x tele-converter (for corona)
  • Rolleiflex SL66 camera with 250mm f/5.6 Sonnar lens (for wide field of eclipse)
  • Keystone 8mm movie camera with 38mm telephoto lens (for movies of eclipse)
  • Minolta SRT-101 camera with 16mm f/2.8 Fisheye (used in two locations for umbra)
Tripods used at the 1979 eclipse included (from right to left when facing eclipse):
  • Vivitar 1321 tripod (with 4 x 5 on top, 300mm and 2x on Nikon F below center column).
  • Vivitar 1220 tripod (with 400mm lens and 2.5x on Miranda Sensorex II camera).
  • Star D tripod (with Roleiflex SL66 and 250mm lens).
  • Albert tripod (with [UNintentionally unused] Keystone 8mm movie camera).
  • Unknown brand aluminum tripod (with Minolta SRT-101 and 16mm Rokkor-X fisheye).
  • Tiltall tripod (with [intentionally unused] Yashica Mat camera; set up behind the rest).
Drawing of Cameras and Tripods used at the 26 Feb. 1979 Total Solar Eclipse.
Drawing of equipment used at the Total Solar Eclipse of 26 February, 1979. This was my first total solar eclipse. Objectives were only observation and photography. There were no experiments, though (after the fact) I was able to get some light intensity data for totality, and up to about a minute before totality, from my photos.
Copyright 1979, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.
This is a low resolution 640 pixel wide image. Click HERE for a larger image (1650 x 1200, 476 KB)

Place Holder for 1979 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment PHOTO.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



Goals of the 1979 Total Solar Eclipse Expedition:

  • Capture sequence image of partial phases with wide angle lens, add totality image later.
  • Image solar corona at 250mm, with exposures from 1 sec and 1/500 sec. at f/5.6.
  • Image solar corona at 600mm, with exposures from 1 sec and 1/500 sec. at f/9, ASA* 200.
  • Image solar corona at 1,000mm, with exposures from 1 sec and 1/500 sec. at f/16.
  • Take 8mm movies of totality with 8mm movie camera and its (38mm) telephoto lens.
  • Photograph approaching & departing umbra with 16mm fisheye, to see if can be captured.
  • Look at the corona with binoculars, and look at corona and surroundings naked eye.
  • Take photos throughout trip, including of people and equipment at eclipse site.
* Even though ASA film speed standards were incorporated into ISO standards about 5 years prior to 1979, film boxes generally did not reflect this (say ISO instead of ASA) until the early 1980's.


Results from the 1979 Total Solar Eclipse

The following results were obtained at the 1979 eclipse:

  • Series of photos showing the umbra approaching from the west.
  • Photos toward the east, showing the round shape of the umbra after totality.
  • Sequence photo of the partial phases (with totality inserted)
  • Photos of totality at 250mm.
  • Photos of totality at 600mm (but not very sharp, for reasons below)
Success rate: Of the six cameras deployed at the 1979 eclipse, none were automated. Acceptable results (vs what was planned) were obtained from 4 of the 6 deployed cameras:
  • Sequence photo taken on Graphic Arts film with the 4x5 camera came out fine. (100%)
  • Corona images obtained with 300mm lens were what could be expected at f/45. (60%)
  • The 400mm lens w/2.5x TC on Miranda camera was not in focus (see details below). (10%)
  • Good results were obtained from the Rolleiflex SL66 camera and 250mm lens. (100%)
  • The Keystone 8mm movie camera was not started before totality (so, a zero there). (0%)
  • Good umbra photos obtained w/Minolta SRT-101 and 16mm, before/after totality. (100%)
  • Thus: 100% results from 3, 60% from one, 10% from one, none from one: (62%)
The following things did not go well at the 1979 eclipse:
  • I did not photograph umbra during totality (though doing so had not been planned).
  • The Soligor Tele-Converter unexpectedly fell apart the night before the eclipse (the mount just fell off!), and (due to lack of tools on the trip) it could not be reassembled in a way that quite allowed infinity focus. As a result, the 300mm lens had to be stopped down to f/11 to get enough depth of field for the eclipse. However, I did not have a cap or attachable solar filter for the rented lens, so I stopped it down to f/22 during partial eclipse phases, so as not to fry the camera focusing screen, but then forgot to set it to f/11 for totality. The resulting slow f-stop (f/45 including 2x converter) limited the extent of corona that could be captured.
  • The 400mm f/6.3 lens was not focused for totality. (Focus is not at the infinity stop with the custom 2.5x converter, and I either forgot to focus it, or I moved the focus setting to the infinity stop some time after I had focused it.)
  • I forgot to even start the 8mm movie camera!
  • I had binoculars hanging from my neck, but forgot to use them!
Links to my 1979 eclipse web pages:
Copyright 1979, 1997, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Equipment for the 11 July, 1991 Total Solar Eclipse:

As had been the case in 1979, equipment used for the 11 July, 1991 total solar eclipse had to more or less be limited to cameras and lenses that I already had. Fortunately, I had acquired and built a few items in the previous two years that would be useful in getting good results, while also reducing size and weight.

One of the most important additions was a small Sony TR-7 Video 8 camcorder. This was much smaller and lighter than my Magnavox 2/3" format Newvicon video camera, which required a separate VCR and power supply. Another important addition was a motorized indexing panoramic camera platform that I had designed and built.

However, there still had not been time to think through the system enough to consider using brackets to support multiple cameras, so most of the cameras were on separate tripods.

The exception regarding tripods was that I added a Gitzo side arm attachment to the center column of my tripod to support a second camera. Then, the wide angle camera (for video of the umbra) was on top of the tripod, while a narrower field video camera (for the solar corona) was attached to a slow motion head that in turn attached to the side arm attachment on the tripod center column.

Due in part to the number of tripods, setting up the 1991 equipment was time consuming. But because our eclipse site was only a few tens of meters from the hotel, time was not an issue. However, the size and weight of the equipment, plus the setup time, precluded a last minute change of site from the beach to one of the nearby islands, in the event of clouds.

Equipment used for the 1991 eclipse included the following. As with the 1979 equipment, it is listed with the widest angle first, then is ordered according to decreasing field of view:

  • Pentax H2 with 50mm lens and Soligor 0.15x fisheye attachment (for all-sky photos)
  • Nikon FM with motor drive and 16mm f/2.8 fisheye, on motorized panoramic platform.
  • Sony camcorder (on loan) with 0.5x wide angle attachment (for video of umbra)
  • Sony TR7 Camcorder with custom 3x front converter (on same tripod, for corona video)
  • Vernonscope 94mm f/7 telescope with VersAgonal and Nikon F camera (for corona photos)
When viewed from the north side, the order of the equipment, from left to right, was:
  • Nikon FM with motor drive and 16mm f/2.8 fisheye, on motorized panoramic platform.
  • Vernonscope 94mm f/7 telescope with VersAgonal and Nikon F camera (for corona photos)
  • Sony camcorder (on loan) with 0.5x wide angle attachment (for video of umbra)
  • Sony TR7 Camcorder with custom 3x front converter (lower on same tripod, for corona)
  • Pentax H2 with 50mm lens and Soligor 0.15x fisheye attachment (for all-sky photos)
Tripods used at the 1991 eclipse included (from right to left when facing south):
  • Unknown brand tripod legs, adapted to Gitzo Ser. 3 center column, for panoramic platform.
  • Questar-Modified Davis & Sanford tripod with custom Aus-Jena mount adapter post.
  • Gitzo 326 tripod with side arm adapter modified to accept a second video camera.
  • Unknown brand tripod with red anodized legs, for all-sky camera.
Drawing of Cameras, Instruments, & Tripods used at the 11 July, 1991 Total Solar Eclipse
Drawing of the equipment I used at the Total Solar Eclipse of 11 July, 1991, observed from a few km NNW of Mazatlan, Mexico. This was my second total solar eclipse, but the first one at which I took 360 degree panoramas before, during, and after totality. I built a motorized indexing panoramic platform shortly before the 1991 eclipse, and have used it at subsequent solar eclipses. With the platform, it only required about 6 seconds to capture each set of four photos that made up each of the 360 degree panoramas. It was operable from the telescope via wired remote control.
This is a low resolution 640 pixel wide image. Click HERE for a larger image (1650 x 1200, 494 KB)
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Place Holder for 1991 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment PHOTO.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



Goals of the 1991 Total Solar Eclipse Expedition:

  • Capture 360 degree panoramas of the umbra, etc., before, during, and after totality.
  • Capture All-sky photos of the umbra, etc., before, during, and after totality.
  • Take video of approaching (and departing) umbra, as well as during totality.
  • Image solar corona at 640mm, with exposures from 1 sec and 1/500 sec. at f/8, ISO 64.
  • Video of solar corona at up to 1,000mm (35mm full-frame equivalent) focal length.
  • Take photos of partial eclipse progression before and after totality.
  • Look at the corona through telescope at 20x, look at corona and surroundings naked eye.
  • Take photos and video throughout trip, including of people and equipment at eclipse site.

Results from the 1991 Total Solar Eclipse

The following results were obtained at the 1991 eclipse:

  • Dramatic 360 degree panoramas of the umbra before, during, and after totality.
  • All sky photos of the umbra approaching, plus during and after totality.
  • Video of the umbra approaching and engulfing our site.
  • Video and photos of partial phases up to 95 percent (then it got cloudy)
  • Light measurements before and during totality (equivalent to 3 sec at f/4, ISO 100)
  • Obtained adequate location video to produce a video of the trip.
Success rate: Of the five cameras deployed at the 1991 eclipse, none were automated. Acceptable results were obtained from 4 of the 5 deployed cameras:
  • Panoramas with the Nikon FM came out fine, but I ran out of film during totality. (85%)
  • Clouds prevented corona photos with Nikon F, but it was used for more panoramas. (50%)
  • Wide angle video with Sony camcorder and wide angle attachment came out fine. (100%)
  • Clouds prevented corona video with the Sony TR7 camcorder and 3x converter. (0%)
  • All-sky images with Pentax H2 and fisheye were OK, but did not take very many. (80%)
  • Thus: 100% results from 1, 85% from 1, 80% from 1, 50% from 1, none from 1: (63%)
The following things did not go well at the 1991 eclipse:
  • It was cloudy during and after totality (so there are no corona photos).
  • Ran out of film for panoramas mid-totality, and had to switch to taking hand held photos.
  • Video camera was pointed well left of optimum position to capture umbra departing.
Links to my 1991 eclipse web pages:
Copyright 1991, 1997, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Equipment for the 3 November, 1994 Total Solar Eclipse:

As with previous eclipses, the equipment used for the 3 Nov. 1994 total solar eclipse had to be more or less limited to the cameras, lenses, and telescopes that I already had. This time, the reason was more about available time than it was about finances. Planning and developing a procedure required a considerable time by themselves. The basis for most of the 1994 setup was the equipment I had used at the 1991 eclipse.

However, I did acquire a compact JVC GR-SZ7 S-VHS camcorder shortly before the 1994 eclipse trip. This was done because a second camcorder would be needed if I was going to simultaneously obtain umbra and corona video. Also, due to their higher tape transport speed, S-VHS camcorders tended to have fewer recording artifacts than Video8 or Hi8 camcorders.

A few months before the eclipse, I had also bought two Fisher Video 8 camcorders that were on sale for less than $400 each at the local Sears store. This increased the total number of camcorders to four. One of these new camcorders was intended for wide field corona imaging (since the camcorder with the 3x converter could not be zoomed out very far), and the other for "walk around" video at the eclipse site. However, a local person ended up using the second Fisher camcorder after I fell ill, because it was then apparent that I would not be up to using it.

I was one camera short for the photography and data collection program I had in mind, and was going to share one of the camera bodies between a lens on the main tripod by removing the lens during totality, then using the same camera body on my Vernonscope 94mm refractor toward the end of totality, in order to shoot both color negative film and color slides. Removing a lens to swap the camera was a time consuming process for during totality. Fortunately, my brother loaned me his Nikon F body, to use along with the loaned 350mm lens that was already in the eclipse setup. This provided enough cameras that one could be dedicated to use on the refractor toward the end of totality.

In 1994, I still did not have custom brackets to facilitate using multiple cameras on a single tripod, but had acquired something that was similar in concept. Bogen made a cross bar that could support four cameras. (The 2024 equivalent is the "Manfrotto 131DDB Accessory Arm for Four Heads.") The cross bar is about 23 inches long, and has three sliding cast aluminum assemblies. The center casting attaches to a tripod, and those on each side accept 3/8-16 threaded tripod heads. The bar also has 3/8 threaded studs at each end, so it can accommodate four tripod heads. Draft on the castings did not provide a flat mounting surface, but it worked fine after the surface was milled flat in the machine shop. (Filing can accomplish the same thing, but takes more time.) By using the cross bar, the 1994 equipment weighed less, required less space, and had a shorter setup time.

However, some of aspects of the equipment had to be disassembled down to almost component level in order to fit in the luggage I could handle at an airport and transport on a flight. Even after this disassembly, the equipment (plus my clothes) still required two checked bags and two carry on bags. The disassembly that was necessary for transport by air required that I have at least a full day of time to reassemble and test the equipment after arriving in the host country (Bolivia).

Unfortunately, less than two hours after I arrived in Cochabamba, Bolivia (which is where I was going to spend most of the trip) I was blindsided by an aspiring (but failed) local politician and his rich cronies, who imposed themselves on me, sometimes in an intimidating way (especially given that I was less assertive than usual while sleep deprived). Their demands prevented having enough time to get enough rest or fully prepare the equipment. (These men also interfered with every other aspect of the trip.) And my lackluster 1994 eclipse results show it.

Equipment used for the 1994 eclipse included the following. Nine cameras were used, with one of them being borrowed. The cameras are listed with the widest angle first, then ordered according to decreasing field of view:

  • Nikon FM with motor drive and 16mm f/2.8 fisheye, on motorized panoramic platform.
  • Sony TR7 camcorder with 0.45x fisheye attachment (for video of umbra)
  • Nikon F with 20mm f/3.8 Vivitar wide angle lens (for photos of eclipse over horizon)
  • Canon Photura 135 camera (for site photos, and eclipse over horizon)
  • Nikon F with 350mm f/5.5 pre-set lens (for monochrome, but wider, corona photos)
  • Fisher FVC-770 8mm camcorder with its standard zoom lens (for wider corona video)
  • Vernonscope 94mm f/7 telescope w/VersAgonal and Nikon N2020 camera (corona photos)
  • Nikon F to swap with the N2020 toward the end of totality to shoot color negative film.
  • JVC GR-SZ7 S-VHS Camcorder with custom 3x front converter (for corona video)
When viewed from the west side, the order of the equipment, from left to right, was:
  • Nikon F with 20mm f/3.8 Vivitar wide angle lens (On Cross Bar, for eclipse over horizon)
  • Nikon F with 350mm f/5.5 pre-set lens (on Cross Bar, for wider corona photos)
  • Nikon FM with motor drive and 16mm f/2.8 fisheye, on motorized panoramic platform.
  • Sony TR7 camcorder with 0.45x fisheye attachment (on Cross Bar, for umbra video)
  • Canon Photura 135 camera (on Cross Bar, for site photos, eclipse over horizon)
  • Vernonscope 94mm f/7 telescope w/VersAgonal and Nikon N2020 camera (corona photos)
  • Nikon F with color print film to use on the 94mm telescope toward the end of totality.
  • JVC GR-SZ7 S-VHS Camcorder with custom 3x converter (on CW shaft; corona video)
  • Fisher FVC-770 8mm camcorder w/standard lens (on separate tripod; wider corona video)
Tripods used at the 1994 eclipse included (from right to left when facing eclipse):
  • Questar-modified Davis & Sanford tripod with custom Aus-Jena mount adapter post.
  • Gitzo 326 tripod with side arm adapter and Bogen cross bar, for most of the cameras.
  • Star D tripod (with all aluminum color legs) for the Fisher Video 8 camcorder.
Drawing of Cameras, Instruments, and Tripods used at the 3 Nov. 1994 Total Solar Eclipse.
Drawing of equipment used at the Total Solar Eclipse of 3 November, 1994, which was observed from Sevaruyo, Bolivia. The Bogen cross bar on the left tripod made it possible to mount 5 cameras on that one tripod, which reduced setup time. Objectives included capturing 360 degree panoramas before, during, and after totality (as I did in 1991, but it was cloudy then) for use in my experiment to determine the most obvious projection altitudes for the lunar umbra in a clear sky. Unfortunately, a failed politician in Cochabamba and his rich friends interfered with almost every aspect of the trip to Bolivia, including rest and in-country eclipse preparations, and the experiment largely failed.
This is a low resolution 640 pixel wide image. Click HERE for a larger image (1650 x 1200, 496 KB)
Copyright 1994, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

Place Holder for 1994 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment PHOTO.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



Goals of the 1994 Total Solar Eclipse Expedition:

  • 360 degree panoramas of umbra boundary before, during, and after totality.
  • Panoramic exposures that are optimized for umbra projection altitude experiment.
  • Wide angle photo of eclipse over the horizon.
  • Wide angle video of umbra approaching and engulfing site.
  • Wide angle video of eclipse over horizon.
  • Medium angle photos of eclipse over horizon.
  • Photos of corona at 350mm, 640mm, and 1,000mm focal length.
  • Exposure values for corona between 3 seconds at f/7 to 1/500 at f/10.
  • Video of corona at 200-400, 700, and over 1,000mm equivalent focal length.
  • Photos of corona with monochrome, color negative, and color slide film.
  • Observe corona for several tens of seconds at 20x through telescope.
  • Obtain accurate contact timings, with accurate site location data.
  • Obtain enough light meter readings for an accurate eclipse light curve.
  • Document equipment and people at eclipse site via still photos and video.
  • Brief people who go to eclipse with me, so they'll know what to expect.
  • Shoot location video and photos throughout trip, for an eclipse video production.
  • Observe and photograph the southern night sky and related night sky objects.
  • Get to know Willma Alcocer and visit her school. Speak at her school if they want.
  • Visit the church in Cochabamba where friends used to go when they lived there.
  • Visit the rural churches that the Spanish speaking church in Pasadena CA supports.

Results from the 1994 Total Solar Eclipse

The following results were obtained at the 1994 eclipse:

  • 360 degree panoramas of umbra before and after (but not during) totality.
  • Wide angle photo of eclipse over eastern horizon.
  • Medium angle photo of sun and horizon just before second contact.
  • Wide angle video of umbra approaching and engulfing our site.
  • Wide angle video of eclipse over horizon, plus of umbra departing.
  • Corona photos at three focal lengths, and on three types of film.
  • Close up corona and "diamond ring" video.
  • Measurement of light level during totality, but only via photos.
  • Viewed corona at 20x through telescope for a memorable 10-20 seconds.
Success rate: Of the nine cameras deployed at the 1994 eclipse (8th camera had 2 shared uses), none were automated. Acceptable results were obtained from 5 of the 9 deployed cameras:
  • Only two photos taken during totality with Nikon F and 20mm lens, but were OK. (50%)
  • Only 5 photos w/350mm lens, including by helper (I did not adequately prep. her). (50%)
  • Main objective of properly exposed 360 panoramas during totality not accomplished. (17%)
  • Did not pan Sony TR7 wide angle camcorder soon enough, but otherwise OK. (85%)
  • Canon Photura 135 camera used only before totality. (50%)
  • Nikon N2020 on Vernonscope 94mm was used as planned. (100%)
  • Nikon F swapped with N2020 was used too late to capture full range of exposures. (75%)
  • JVC camcorder with 3x converter zoomed out too early, but otherwise OK. (85%)
  • Solar filter was left on Fisher camcorder during totality. (0%)
  • Thus: 100% results from 1, 85 from 2, 75 from 1, 50 from 3, 17 from 1, none from 1: (57%)
  • HOWEVER, if results are weighted according to importance, the success rate is much lower. Specifically, obtaining two properly exposed 360 degree panoramas during totality was the most important aspect, and not even one of these was obtained. (Because of local politics.)
The following things did not go well at, or before or after, the 1994 eclipse:
  • Telephone/insurance issues before trip prevented rest, making rest on arrival very important.
  • Impositions by a failed local politician and his rich cronies interfered with everything:
  • I became seriously ill (to where I needed surgery) due to demands by local politician, etc.
  • After political impositions, was insufficient time to unpack/prepare equipment, practice, etc.
  • Did not get to adequately brief our group about the eclipse (would have reduced confusion).
  • Wide angle video camera was panned from the west toward the eclipse over 20 seconds late.
  • Did not obtain any properly exposed 360 degree panoramas (for experiment) during totality.
  • Solar filter left on med. field corona video camera during totality; investigating wasted time.
  • Did not take any photos with Canon Photura 135 during totality.
  • Was not able to take enough light readings for an eclipse light curve.
  • Did not get to observe eclipse and horizon via naked eye very much.
  • Unable to timely synchronize camera clocks to WWV or obtain accurate contact timings.
  • Unable to (then) determine site location to an accuracy that mattered for contact timings.
  • Was too ill and sleepy to take in eclipse very well, or remember it as well as other eclipses.
  • Did not get to view or image Venus while it was still visible near the sun after totality.
  • Did not get to do subsequent planned observations and photography of southern sky objects.
  • Unable to obtain enough location footage for eclipse video, so adequate video was not made.
  • Did not get to spend much time with the extraordinary woman (Willma Alcocer) I met there.
Links to my 1994 eclipse web pages:
Copyright 1994, 1997, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Equipment for the 24 October, 1995 Total Solar Eclipse:

As had been the case for eclipses that I had observed before, equipment used for the 24 Oct. 1995 total solar eclipse in Thailand had to more or less be limited to cameras and lenses that I already had. However, many parts of the 1994 eclipse setup (sans the 94mm telescope) were useful as the basis for the 1995 eclipse equipment.

What was different about 1995, is I decided that the entire setup, including all of my clothes, etc., would fit in two rolling carry on bags. This was done mainly because the connection time in Hong Kong was going to be fairly short, and I did not want to risk having important equipment in a checked bag that might not make the connection. I needed only look back to the 1994 Bolivia trip, where NONE of the checked bags had arrived on time - or even on the same day - as my flight.

Because of the self-imposed luggage constraint, some aspects of the 1995 equipment, including the main tripod, had to be partially disassembled to fit the carry-on bags. Therefore, as in 1994, it was necessary to assemble some of the 1995 equipment after arriving on the host country (Thailand), then transport it to the eclipse site in a partially assembled configuration. After this, the equipment could be set up on site in about an hour. All of this went fine, perhaps because I did not encounter any Bolivian politicians in Thailand!

Instead of a telescope, I used a 300mm f/4.5 ED Nikkor lens, along with two products that my company offered. The first of these was the DiaGuider (TM), which was a combined image switcher and off-axis guider that utilized a 1 inch prism. Using the DiaGuider made it possible to observe and photograph the eclipse with the same lens or telescope (or, in this case, camera lens).

The second product was the VersaScope (TM) Adapter, which was a camera mount adapter with a front mounted Barlow lens that fit on the back of lenses that had enough room behind the rear element to accommodate the front Barlow. The VersaScope (TM) adapter provided enough back focus to use the DiaGuider behind the camera lens, while providing a magnification of slightly more than two. The Barlow added some field curvature, but for a total solar eclipse, its lack of flare and ghost images made it superior to a conventional 2x converter.

For more stability and to save space, the 300mm lens was mounted directly onto one cross bar castings via a large 3/8 inch thread to 1/4-20 adapter. The casting was rotated around the cross bar for vertical pointing, and the tripod head attach screw was loosened to move the lens in azimuth.

To get the cross bar to fit carry on luggage, it was shortened from 23 inches to 20 inches, then an extender was made for the left end. A small clamp with a 1/4-20 screw and ball head on it was then used on the extender to support the Canon Photura 135 camera.

Equipment used for the 1995 eclipse included the following. It is listed with the widest angle first, then the rest is ordered according to decreasing field of view:

  • Nikon N2020 and 16mm f/2.8 fisheye Nikkor lens on motorized panoramic platform.
  • Sony TR7 camcorder with 0.45x fisheye attachment and 0.7x converter (for video of umbra)
  • Nikon F with 14mm f/3.5 Sigma lens on motorized indexing panoramic platform.
    • (14mm lens used for first panorama, then 14mm moved to other Nikon F below.)
    • (Nikon F removed from platform, then 0.15x fisheye attachment used for all-sky.)
  • Nikon F with 14mm f/3.5 Sigma lens (lens moved here after panorama, for eclipse/horizon).
  • Canon Photura 135 camera (for site photos, and wider angle corona)
  • Nikon N2020, 300 f/4.5 ED Nikkor, Versacorp VersaScope Adapter, DiaGuider (corona pix)
  • JVC GR-SZ7 S-VHS Camcorder with custom 3x front converter (for corona video)
When viewed from the west side, the order of the equipment, from left to right, was:
  • JVC GR-SZ7 S-VHS Camcorder with custom 3x converter (separate tripod, corona video)
  • Canon Photura 135 camera (for site photos, possible wider angle corona)
  • Nikon N2020, 300 f/4.5 ED Nikkor, Versacorp VersaScope Adapter, DiaGuider (corona pix)
  • Nikon N2020 and 16mm f/2.8 fisheye Nikkor lens on motorized panoramic platform.
  • Nikon F and 0.15x 180 deg. fisheye lens (in tripod apron for all sky photo, after pano taken)
  • Sony TR7 camcorder with 0.45x fisheye attachment and 0.7x converter (for video of umbra)
  • Nikon F, 14mm f/3.5 Sigma lens (eclipse over horizon; lens moved after first panorama)
Tripods used at the 1995 eclipse included (from right to left when facing eclipse):
  • Star D tripod, for JVC GR-SZ7 S-VHS Camcorder with custom 3x converter.
  • Gitzo 326 tripod with side arm adapter and Bogen cross bar, for the rest of the cameras.
Drawing of Cameras, Instruments, and Tripods used at the 24 Oct. 1995 Total Solar Eclipse.
Drawing of equipment used at the Total Solar Eclipse of 24 October, 1995, observed from about 25 km NW of Nakhon Sawan, Thailand. This instrumentation included seven cameras, a light meter, and a pair of 10x25 binoculars. One of the cameras was shared between two lenses. The Bogen cross bar on the right tripod (plus the dual camera bracket on the motorized panoramic platform at the top) made it possible to mount 6 cameras on a single tripod. This reduced equipment weight and setup time. In order to get the cross bar to fit carry on luggage, it was shortened from 23 inches to 20", then an extension was screwed on to the left side at the eclipse site. All of this equipment (plus a limited amount of clothes) fit into two carry on bags, with a few smaller items being carried in the pockets of a photo vest.
This is a low resolution 640 pixel wide image. Click HERE for a larger image (1650 x 1200, 438 KB)
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


1995 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment Photos.
LEFT: The 1995 eclipse equipment set up to practice procedures before departure. All of the cameras except the video camera farthest to the left are mounted on a Gitzo 326 tripod with a Bogen cross bar attachment. The small blue control box near the top of the right tripod leg includes circuitry to automate operation of the indexing rotary camera platform, one of the cameras on it, and the camera on the 300 mm ED Nikkor lens, which is just left of the tripod center column. In order to minimize camera shake, the automated control synchronizes the cameras so they will not fire while the indexing platform is rotating. The video camera on the separate tripod is fitted with a home made 3x converter lens. It is on a separate tripod to isolate it from vibrations caused by operation of the equipment on the main tripod.
UPPER RIGHT: Close up of the prototype Versarama (TM) indexing rotary camera platform and its remote automated control. The right angle bracket on top allows two cameras to be attached with their entrance pupils equal distances from the center of rotation for stereo imaging, or for one camera to be positioned directly over the center. The camera is offset here because a second camera was intermittently used on the other side of the bracket. The panoramic platform began as an amateur project for the 1991 eclipse, then was improved over time.
LOWER RIGHT: All of the equipment fits into two standard carry on bags. The photo vest (shown beside the luggage) has a lot of pockets for a few extra items.
Copyright 1995, 1998, 2017, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Other Aspects of the 1995 Eclipse Equipment

The 1995 eclipse setup is lighter than any other eclipse setup I ever used, probably by a factor of two or more. The equipment itself weighed less than 26 kg (57 lbs), and the total weight of everything including the luggage and clothes, etc. was less than 38 kg (84 lbs).

A Photo Vest with numerous pockets was worn to carry small and light items. A soft tripod case was brought along because, for ground transportation, this provided an easy way to transport the assembled tripod, while also making it easier to access what was in the luggage. The assembly or item weights (in pounds) from the 1995 eclipse setup are as follows:

1995 ECLIPSE EQUIPMENT WEIGHT:

ITEM (Quantity):        WEIGHT:

ITEMS IN CARRY-ON BAGS:
Nikon F Camera (2)	3
Nikon N2020 Camera (2)	3
Canon Photura 135 cam.	2
JVC GR-SZ7 camc. w/acc	7
Sony TR7 camc. w/acc	7
7.5mm Fisheye Lens	1
Sigma 14mm f/3.5 Lens	1
Nikkor 16mm f/2.8 Fish	1
Nikkor 300/4.5 ED	3
Nikon 10x25 Binoc.	1
Gossen Luna-Pro Meter	1
Panoramic Platform	4
Bogen No. 3 Head (2)	2
Bogen Cross Arm w/AddOn	4
Star D Tripod		3
Gitzo Studex 326 Tripod	6
Side Arm Adapter, Misc.	1
Tripod Apron		1
Film and X-Ray Bag	1
Gadget Bags (2)		3
Plastic Lens/Cam. Boxes	1
EQUIPMENT WEIGHT:      56 lbs

LUGGAGE, CLOTHES, EXTERNAL:
Rolling Bag 1		8
Rolling Bag 2		8
Soft Tripod Bag		1
Photo Vest		2
Extra Clothes		5
Cleaning Suppl.		1
Food/Water		2
TOTAL NON-EQUIPMENT:   27 lbs

TOTAL, ALL ITEMS:      83 lbs

The heaviest rolling carry-on bag was just under 40 lbs. The other was about 35 lbs. The remainder was carried in pockets of the photo vest. At that time, I had no difficulty handling the carry on bags myself, and Pierre and I literally ran through the Hong Kong airport with our carry on luggage in tow, because our connecting flight to Bangkok left only 45 minutes after we arrived. (This was years before I became permanently disabled. It sure felt nice to be able to run, back in the day.)

On the plane, the rigid carry on fit comfortably in the overhead bin, and the semi-rigid one fit under the seat. The semi-rigid carry on had a flexible zipper closure, so it was easy to access the food and water in it. However, on the leg from Hong Kong to Bangkok, we had a bulkhead seat (no under-seat storage), so I had to put items I needed to access during the flight in the pockets of my photo vest.


Goals of the 1995 Total Solar Eclipse Expedition:

  • 360 degree panoramas of umbra boundary before, during, and after totality.
  • All-sky photo shortly before totality, to capture umbra if possible.
  • Panoramic exposures that are optimized for umbra projection altitude experiment.
  • Wide angle photo of eclipse over the horizon.
  • Wide angle video of umbra approaching and engulfing site.
  • Wide angle video of eclipse over horizon.
  • Photos of corona at 600mm focal length. (135mm with Photura is optional.)
  • Exposure values for corona between 1 second and 1/500 sec. at f/9.5, ISO 64.
  • Video of corona at about 700mm (35mm full frame equivalent) focal length.
  • Take photos to capture how long before or after totality lunar outline is visible.
  • Observe corona for a few tens of seconds through 10x25 binoculars.
  • Obtain reasonably accurate contact timings, including site location data.
  • Obtain enough light meter readings for an accurate eclipse light curve.
  • Document equipment and people at eclipse site via still photos and video.
  • Shoot location video and photos throughout trip, for an eclipse video production.

Results from the 1995 Total Solar Eclipse

The following results were obtained at the 1995 eclipse:

  • 360 degree panoramas of the umbra before, during, and after totality.
  • All-sky photo of umbra in the sky about a minute before totality.
  • Photo of eclipse over horizon with 14mm wide angle lens.
  • Wide angle video of umbra approaching, plus during and after totality.
  • Corona photos at 600mm focal length, including of diamond ring.
  • Photographed lunar outline up to 1 minute and 46 seconds before totality.
  • Video of corona at equivalent focal length of about 700mm.
  • Observed corona through binoculars for about 20 seconds.
  • Observed lunar outline up until about 3 minutes after the end of totality.*
  • Obtained accurate timings for 1st-3rd contact; within a few seconds for 4th contact.
  • Obtained enough light meter readings for an accurate eclipse light curve.
  • Adequately documented the eclipse setup via photos and video.
  • Between Pierre and I, we obtained enough location footage for a video of the trip.
* Lunar outline was carefully observed through small aperture baffled optics that exclude the solar photosphere from the field of view. This was only attempted after totality, when the area observed was the east side of the moon, and the photosphere moves farther from the field of view over time.

Success rate: Cameras included two Nikon N2020's, two Nikon F's, one Canon Photura 135, a JVC GR-SZ7 SVHS camcorder, and a Sony TR7 Video 8 camcorder. Of the seven cameras deployed at the 1995 eclipse, three (including the wide angle TR7 video camera) were automated.
- Acceptable results were obtained from all 7 of the 7 deployed cameras: (100%)

The following things did not go well at the 1995 eclipse:

  • Almost nothing went wrong, and all objectives were accomplished!
  • This is the only eclipse for which I had enough sleep. (There were no Bolivian politicians!)
  • Conditions were not optimum for umbra projection altitude experiment (local haze).
  • The only real problem was when the cabin pressure of the Airbus aircraft changed fairly rapidly during descent into Hong Kong on the first leg of the flight home. My left ear hurt and I became a bit disoriented for the rest of the return flight. According to my doctor, the pressure change had ruptured my left eardrum. (What did you say? I can't hear you!)
Links to my 1995 eclipse web pages:
Copyright 1995, 1997, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Equipment for the 21 August, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse:

Unlike for previous eclipses, a considerable amount of equipment was acquired and tested before the 21 Aug. 2017 total solar eclipse. Most of the equipment was bought used, but the quantity of items made it a considerable investment. Certain other items, such as glass solar filters, were acquired new.

Everything that was purchased was not utilized at the eclipse. For example, several different camera lenses and small telescopes were acquired (or borrowed) for testing, then only those with good test results were emphasized for the eclipse. Most of the remaining lenses would eventually be sold. (Since walk-in camera stores were rare by 2017, it was not possible to test a lens without buying or renting it.)

Lens tests focused on which long focal length (250mm or longer) camera lenses and telescopes were the best at imaging earthshine on the crescent and half moon, since this is a reasonable test for evaluating how well the same optics may image earthshine on the moon (as I had clearly done in 1994) during totality. Other tests emphasized wide angle lenses and fisheye attachments.

Other new (to me) items included a number of (used) digital cameras, a used Nikon N2020 film camera, and a used MD-11 motor drive for my Nikon FM. The digital cameras included several Olympus Micro 4/3 (MFT) cameras, three Panasonic MFT cameras, a Pentax Q camera, a Pentax Q7 camera, a Panasonic camcorder that records to an SD card, a Nikon 3x converter lens, a few adapters, and two heavier tripods.

Items acquired new included several glass solar filters, three sets of custom camera brackets that I had designed, several camera lens adapters, and a second Fornax LighTrack II star tracker. I also designed and built a camera controller and interval timer, but was only able to finish 4 of its 12 channels. Due to my condition, I was no longer very good (or fast) at wiring and soldering.

The equipment was on track to be a very robust and well defined eclipse setup. However, a five week long health insurance acquisition issue prevented finishing it in time, and I had to leave home for the eclipse several days later than planned. I also had to have extra equipment and tools in tow, so I could try to finish the setup at the motel in the host state of Idaho. Clearly not a good situation.

The eclipse setup still was not fully defined even on the morning of the eclipse, so some cameras were eliminated at the last minute. Others could not be set up because I physically could not adequately control my hands while they were above shoulder level on that particular day.

Setting up on site stretched well into the partial phase of the eclipse, which had never been the case for me at an eclipse before. There were equipment malfunctions too, which also had not happened before.

Equipment used for the 2017 eclipse included the following:

  • See my 2017 total solar eclipse web page (linked below) for details. (It's a long camera list!)
Place Holder for "As Built" 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment DRAWING.
Caption TBD.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


2017 Total Solar Eclipse Equipment Photo.
The main assemblies in the 2017 eclipse equipment are the Corona Video Assembly (left) which has 6 cameras, the Corona Still Image Assembly (center) which also has 6 cameras, and the Wide Angle Assembly (right) which has 12 cameras and a small visual telescope.
After this picture was taken, the camera at upper right stopped working and was eliminated from the setup.
Also, the the camera on the low tripod near the center was not used.
A sequence camera (not shown) was mounted on a separate tripod.
On eclipse day, only two of the 8 cameras on the top part of the Wide Angle Assembly produced any useful results.
This was because my hands did not work well when above shoulder height that day, so I could not bypass the clock setting screen in the two gray camcorders, or use the yellow all sky camera. The two cameras on the panoramic platform turned themselves off (power management could not be disabled) while dealing with the other issues.
Copyright 2017, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



Goals of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Expedition:

  • Capture 360 degree panoramas every 3 to 5 seconds, using automated panoramic platform.
  • Capture 360 degree VR video encompassing totality, plus 3 minutes before and 2 after.
  • Take all sky photos before, during, and after totality.
  • Capture wide angle images of the eclipse over the horizon.
  • Capture wide angle video of the eclipse over the horizon throughout totality.
  • Capture wide angle video of umbra moving over Mount McCaleb.
  • Capture a sequence image showing partial phases every 4 minutes, plus totality.
  • Hydrogen-Alpha photos of sun before 1C and after 4C of moon covering prominences.
  • Wide field photos of eclipse and background stars at 180mm.
  • Capture range of solar corona exposures (3s - 1/1000 sec) with film and digital cameras.
  • Image earthshine on the moon during totality.
  • Capture video of solar corona in a range of image scales and exposures.
  • Look at corona through a small telescope, look at corona and surroundings naked eye.
  • Determine (and image) maximum time before or after totality that lunar outline visible.
  • Measure and record data for light and temperature curves between 1c and 4c.
  • Document equipment and people at eclipse site via still photos and video.
  • Take enough location video on trip to provide background for an eclipse video.

Results from the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

The following results were obtained at the 2017 eclipse:

  • (See my 2017 total solar eclipse web page for the results list, plus details.)
The following things did not go well at the 2017 eclipse:
  • (See my 2017 total solar eclipse web page for the failure list, plus details, lessons learned, and equipment changes based on lessons learned.)
Links to my 2017 eclipse web pages:
Copyright 2017, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Equipment for the 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (But used only at a partial eclipse!)

Equipment for the 8 Apr. 2024 total solar eclipse was based in large part on the equipment used in 2017, except that lessons learned in 2017 had been considered in modifications, subractions, and additions to the equipment.

Aspects that stayed the same included the main camera brackets, many of the cameras and lenses, and the Fornax LighTrack II open loop tracking mounts.

Aspects that changed included the following:

  • Using Fuji X cameras to extent affordable (mainly for their marked shutter speed dials)
  • Using Entaniya HAL 250 degree fisheye lenses as the primary VR optics (no stitching)
  • Eliminated Olympus 8mm f/1.8 AF lens (due to LACK of MANUAL FOCUS SWITCH)
  • Small telescopes (Ad Astra III, TeleVue 60) instead of camera lenses for corona photos.
  • Custom compact wedge used for tracker, instead of one of the large Gitzo PL5 tripod heads.
Equipment used intended for the 2024 total eclipse included the following:
  • See the "Instrumentation" part of THIS web page for details.
Drawing of Instrumentation for the 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
Drawing of equipment proposed for the Total Solar Eclipse of 8 April, 2024, as envisioned in 2018, 2020, and 2024, and "as built" in time for the 2024 eclipse. Details about (and photos of) the 2024 eclipse equipment are in the "2024 Eclipse Instrumentation" chapter, in about the middle third of this web page.
Copyright 2018, 2020, 2023, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.
This is a low resolution 640 pixel wide image. Click HERE for a larger image (1650 x 1200, 632 KB)

Photo of Instrumentation for the 8 April, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.
Cameras and light meters, etc., set up for a practice run, six days before the 8 April, 2024 total solar eclipse.
From left to right, the tripods (which do not count the tripod for the gray telescope on the extreme left) are for:
- Corona Still Image and Ambient Light Measurement Assembly (3 cameras, as shown)
- Wide Angle and VR Imaging and Video Assembly (6 cameras). A condensed eclipse procedure is on the clipboard.
- Custom Multi Camera Controller and Interval Timer (blue box at bottom)
- Sequence Camera (1 camera)
- Corona Video Assembly (6 cameras)
- The large 250 degree Entaniya fisheye lenses at the top are used for the primary 360 degree imaging (instead of the motorized indexing panoramic platform I built in 1991) to eliminate the need to stitch separate images. However, the Corona Still Image tripod on the left has provision to add an elevated support for the panoramic platform.
- The blue 12-channel camera controller and interval timer box at the bottom is detailed in my 2017 eclipse web page.
- The gray Celestron 8 SCT on the left is not part of the 2024 eclipse setup.
Copyright 2024, Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.



Goals of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Expedition:

  • Allocate at least 50 seconds to observe the solar corona under magnification.
  • Observe and photograph umbra toward the NE to SE during first minute of totality.
  • Obtain data for umbra projection altitude experiment, mostly from VR images.
  • Capture 360 degree panoramas at every 4.5 seconds, using Entaniya fisheye lens.
  • Capture 360 degree VR video encompassing totality, plus 2 minutes before and 3-4 after.
  • Capture wide angle images of the eclipse over the horizon.
  • Capture wide angle video of the eclipse over the horizon throughout totality.
  • Capture a sequence image showing partial phases every 4 minutes, plus totality.
  • Capture range of solar corona exposures (3s - 1/1000 sec) with film and digital cameras.
  • Image earthshine on the moon during totality.
  • Capture video of solar corona in a range of image scales and exposures.
  • Determine (and image) maximum time before or after totality that lunar outline visible.
  • Measure and record data for light and temperature curves between 1c and 4c.
  • Take enough location video to provide background for an eclipse video.

Results from the 2024 Total Partial Solar Eclipse

The following results were obtained at the 2024 eclipse:

  • Photos and sequence of PARTIAL phases (since not in the path of totality!)
  • Hydrogen-Alpha photos of moon covering and uncovering prominences.
The following things did not go well before or during the 2024 eclipse:
  • Several contentious parties complicated being a friend's POA for years.
  • Frontier Internet AND Phone service failed for NINE days, while I was trying to arrange transportation to the 2024 eclipse, so I did not get to go to the path of totality!
  • Solar image not optimally positioned in Coronado PST for prominences before first contact.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Appendix C: Equipment for a Notional Future Total Solar Eclipse Requiring Air Travel

Due to my age, the 8 April 2024 eclipse was probably my last shot at a domestic total solar eclipse. I have not been up to international travel for more than two decades, and being disabled, the only way I could attempt an international trip would be in a group where people can help handle the equipment and related luggage.

Even with the eclipse setup reduced from 16 cameras down to 9 or 10, transporting it still requires at least three bags that would be toward the large end of what is allowed for carry on bags. This is because there is a diminishing return in cutting back on cameras. Supporting equipment including tripods and star trackers (not to mention clothes, etc.) is still required, and there is relatively little change in the weight of such items, regardless of the number of cameras used.

Unfortunately, airlines don't usually allow three carry on bags. But making the trek to a baggage claim area is challenging for a disabled person. Needless to say, logistics of an eclipse trip that involves flying are a great deal more difficult, especially when combining a disabled passenger with 59 kg of luggage. (And the 59 kg doesn't count a rollator walker; it only includes two Gitzo collapsible monopods that are used as canes.)

Eclipse equipment shown and described below is an early attempt to reduce the size and weight, while not giving up an excessive amount of capability. It is based in large part on parts of the 2024 eclipse instrumentation, but fewer and lighter tripods (and fewer camera brackets) are used where practical.

Aspects that stayed the same included the wide angle tripod and its camera brackets, as well as continuing to use at least one Fornax LighTrack II mount. The Fornax mount is retained in the event southern night sky imaging would be possible from Australia shortly after the 2028 eclipse. (Observing and photographing southern sky objects is another thing that the local aspiring (but still failed to this day) politician and his rich buddies prevented me from doing in Bolivia back in 1994.)

Aspects that changed in comparison to the 2024 setup include the following:

  • Uses only two types of interchangeable lens digital cameras, to reduce the number and type of batteries and chargers required. Cameras retained are Fuji XT series and Panasonic GX7.
  • Adds one Fujifilm XT camera, and removes XE camera and several Micro 4/3 cameras.
  • Uses only one film camera. (There is no longer a wide angle film camera.)
  • Uses only one Entaniya HAL 250 degree fisheye lens for the primary VR optics.
  • Uses smaller 4-channel interval timer/controller rather than the 12 channel one.
  • Eliminates 1-2 of the three light meters. (So unfortunately, range changes may be required.)
  • Eliminated separate tripods for sequence camera and interval timer box.
  • Two of the three remaining Gitzo tripods are one size smaller.
  • Custom compact wedges are used for both trackers.
Equipment intended for a notional future total solar eclipse includes the following:

No. CAMERA MODEL:    OPTICS:	PURPOSE:     Int.Timer:

01. Fujifilm X-T10a  TeleVue 60	Corona Still Chan. 1
02. Fujifilm X-T10b  8.0 Samyg	Wide Still   Chan. 2
03. Fujifilm X-T20a  3.6 Entan	VR Still     Chan. 3
04. Fujifilm X-T20b  7.5 Samyg  Wide Video   -
05. Fujifilm X-T20c  28 7Artis	Sequence     Internal
06. Nikon N2020a     AdAstra 3	Corona Film  (Chan.4)
07. Panasonic GX7a   7.5 Samyg	Lt. Meter V. -
08. Panasonic GX7b   300 f/4.5	Corona Video -
09. Panasonic GX7c   500T+1.4x	Corona Video -
10. Ricoh Theta S    2x 180deg	VR Backup    -
Optional:
11  Canon SX280      20:1 zoom	Cor.Vid.Bak. -
12. Canon SX260      20:1 zoom	Area of Int. -
13. Pan HDC-SD1      Zoom + 3x	Cor.Vid.Bak. -
Instrumentation for a Notional Future Total Solar Eclipse in Another Country.
Drawing of equipment proposed for a notional Total Solar Eclipse that occurs after 8 April, 2024.
Significant changes include removal of six cameras, removal of brackets on both of the outer tripods, using lighter tripods for the outer two, moving the light meters and meter camera to the wide angle tripod, moving the sequence camera from a separate tripod to the wide angle tripod, and using a smaller interval timer.
This is a low resolution 640 pixel wide image. Click HERE for a larger image (1650 x 1200, 448 KB).
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Notional Future Total Solar Eclipse Equipment, Configured for Eclipse in Eastern Sky.
Photo of notional future total solar eclipse instrumentation, showing it set up to image an eclipse at a moderate elevation angle in the eastern sky, for a northern hemisphere site. This is similar to what the configuration would be if the system was used in Gibraltar for the 2 Aug. 2027 total solar eclipse. If the same equipment was used in Australia for the 22 July 2028 eclipse (where the sun is closer to the meridian during totality), the star trackers on the two side tripods would be oriented closer to how they are shown in the drawing above, or in the 2024 eclipse setup. The small blue box on the lower left of the central tripod bracket is a stand-in for a 4-channel camera controller and Interval timer that is smaller than the 12-channel one that was made for the 2017 and 2024 eclipses. In the Corona Still Image Assembly at lower left, the TeleVue 60 telescope is moved to the forward position on its mounting rail, instead of using a counterweight. This wasn't necessary in the 2024 setup because the eclipse was near the meridian at the site I selected. This picture looks a little busy, because I was unable to set up the goldenrod color background cloth for it. The orange Celestron 8 telescope in the left background is not part of the eclipse equipment. Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


(Scaled Back) Goals for a Notional Future Eclipse Expedition:

Unfortunately, because air travel is required to get to total solar eclipses that are likely to occur in my lifetime, most goals had to be thrown out the window, in favor of scaled back equipment that is small and light enough for air travel. Also, only two eclipses likely to occur in my lifetime (2027 and 2028) have a duration of totality that is comparable to the 2024 eclipse.

None of the remaining eclipses of four minute or longer duration are a good fit to my circadian rhythm, which tends toward better performance if I don't get up early. The 2028 eclipse in Austraila happens locally in the afternoon, but jet lag from crossing a large number of time zones could be considerable. I was able to do this for the 1995 eclipse in Thailand, but my age was then just over half of what it is now.

Scaled back goals for a notional solar eclipse of 4 minute or more duration include the following:

  • Allocate at least 50 seconds to observe the solar corona under magnification.
  • Obtain data for umbra projection altitude experiment, mostly from VR images.
  • Capture 360 degree panoramas at every 5 seconds, using Entaniya fisheye lens.
  • Capture wide angle images of the eclipse over the horizon.
  • Capture wide angle video of the eclipse over the horizon throughout totality.
  • Capture a sequence image showing partial phases every 4 minutes, plus totality.
  • Capture range of solar corona exposures with both film and digital cameras.
  • Image earthshine on the moon during totality.
  • Capture video of solar corona in a (limited) range of image scales and exposures.
  • Measure and record data for light and temperature curves between 1c and 4c.
  • Take enough location video to provide background for an eclipse video.
  • Requirement: Shall be compatible with air travel, with delicate items being carried on.

Capabilities of the Notional Future Eclipse Instrumentation

Capabilities of the notional future eclipse instrumentation are driven in part by the goals above.
  • From 2c-3 min. to 3c+4, automatically captures a 360 degree panorama every 5 seconds.
  • Redundant manually operated VR camera (R. Theta) for backup on 360 degree panoramas.
  • Full frame fisheye digital still pictures of sun (and eclipse) over horizon.
  • Full frame fisheye video of sun (and eclipse) over horizon (12-16mm equivalent FL).
  • Automated sequence image of all partial eclipse phases (Fuji X-T20, 28mm lens).
  • Two light meters, clock, and camera for recording light curve data.
  • Corona photos (digital) at full frame equivalent focal length of 540mm (TV60).
  • Corona photos (on 35mm film) at focal length of 760mm (Ad Astra III telescope).
  • Corona video at full frame equivalent focal lengths of 750mm and 1,750mm.
  • Small visual fisheye lens to observe lunar umbra.
  • Small visual telescope to observe solar corona while operating corona cameras.
  • 10x compact binoculars to observe solar corona.
  • Operable from a seated position, and (mostly) compatible with my disabilities.
  • Includes (limited) equipment to image the night sky on days after the eclipse.

Assemblies, Tripods, and Corresponding Camera Groups in a Portable System:

The notional future eclipse instrumentation consists of three major assemblies, but has no minor assemblies. Each assembly is on its own tripod. Items are listed in the order they appear in the above drawing and photo, from left to right (and top to bottom where applicable).

Assemblies for a Notional Future Total Solar Eclipse include:

  • Corona Still Image Assembly (2 cameras, one visual scope, Fornax LighTrack II):
    • Corona film camera (Nikon N2020) on Ad Astra III Mak-Cass. telescope (760 FL)
    • Small visual telescope (Rokinon 300mm f/6.3 mirror lens with custom diagonal)
    • Corona digital camera (X-T10) on TeleVue 60 telescope, field flattener (540 eq. FL)
  • Wide Angle, VR, Sequence Imaging, Light Measurement Assembly (6 cameras):
    • Entaniya HAL 250 deg. fisheye lens (pointed up) on Fuji X-T20, for 360 deg. photos.
    • Adapted Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 MFT fisheye on Fujifilm X-T20, for 180 deg. video.
    • Ricoh Theta S with wired remote on short post, for backup VR still images.
    • 8mm f/2.8 Samyang fisheye lens on Fujifilm X-T10, for 180 degree photos.
    • Sequence camera (will be 28mm lens on Fuji X-T20, using internal interval timer)
    • Light meter camera (Panasonic GX7, 7.5mm lens), plus two light meters and clock.
    • Smaller custom camera controller / interval timer is attached to lower camera bar.
  • Corona Video Assembly (2 cameras on Fornax LighTrack II mount):
    • Panasonic GX7 with Tamron 500mm lens, 1.4x converter (1,750mm equiv. FL)
    • Panasonic GX7 with Nikon 300mm f/4.5 ED Nikkor (750mm equivalent FL)
Detail of Wide Angle/VR/Sequence Assembly for Notional Future Total Solar Eclipse.
Photo of the Wide Angle Assembly in notional future total solar eclipse instrumentation. Unlike the 2024 design, this version of the Wide Angle Assembly includes the sequence camera (bottom center) and Light Measurement equipment (bottom right). Specifics are:
- TOP LEFT: Entaniya 3.6mm f/2.8 (250 degree) fisheye lens on Fujifilm X-T20 camera, for still images (one every 5 seconds) that cover the entire sky, the full 360 degree horizon, and down to 35 degrees below the horizon.
- TOP CENTER: Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye lens on Fujifilm X-T20 camera, for video of the eclipse over the horizon that covers 180 degrees horizontally (as opposed to only diagonally). A modified RAF Camera MFT to Fuji X adapter was used to mount the MFT format fisheye lens on the Fujifilm APS format camera, and the front lens hood petal section of the lens was de-rotated and modified to work with the adapter and the larger APS format.
- TOP RIGHT: Ricoh Theta S VR camera with wired remote, for redundant 360 degree photos. The Theta is not the primary VR camera because its small pixels limit dynamic range in comparison to the Fujifilm APS format digital camera that is used with the Entaniya fisheye lens.
- BOTTOM LEFT: Samyang 8mm f/2.8 fisheye lens on Fujifilm X-T10 camera, for still images of the eclipse over the horizon. This camera can also be panned toward the left, in the event that there is an area of interest in that direction, including near the boundary of the lunar umbra.
- BOTTOM CENTER: Sequence camera with manual focus 28mm lens (42mm equivalent) and solar filter. The shown Fujifilm X-E1 camera is a stand-in for an X-T20 or other Fuji camera that has a built-in interval timer, for automation of the eclipse sequence imaging.
- BOTTOM RIGHT: Light Meter camera that images two light meters and a clock, to capture data for a light curve of the eclipse. The bracket supporting the meters angles toward the right, to place the meters toward the lower right corner of the image. The rest of the frame images the foreground and the eclipse (if the solar elevation angle is low enough). This camera can also be panned toward the right (while still keeping the meters in the field of view), in the event that there is an area of interest in that direction. Two meters are used so one can be set to high range and the other to low range. This is important, because the range of a single meter would typically have to be changed less than 10 seconds before second contact!
- COMMENTS: To reduce transported volume and weight (because any future total eclipse would involve air travel), this version lacks a second Entaniya HAL 250 degree fisheye lens for 360 degree video, and instead uses a Ricoh Theta S that would only capture a few still photos. The small black object in front of the blue box is a wired remote for the Ricoh Theta camera.
- This version also lacks a wide angle film camera, which was at the lower right in the 2024 setup.
- This setup could be slightly lighter if there was not a separate meter camera, and the meters were instead imaged with the wide angle camera and 8mm Samyang lens at lower left. However, proper placement of the meters in the field of view would then require a different configuration of the meter brackets for each potential eclipse site, depending on the solar elevation angle, complicating assembly. This could also cause the meters to be a distraction in other wide angle photos, even though they would be imaged too small to resolve the light level reading.
- A small Gossen Digisix meter could be used instead of both Sekonic meters IF there was a way to keep it turned on for continuous readings. However, holding the read button down causes a Digisix to measure dynamic range instead of continuously metering light level. Modifying a Digisix to have an external jack for its read button contacts (that can be connected to an interval timer) might work, but implementation could take a lot of time. Also, the "wow factor" of seeing meter needles move in real time during the seconds before and after totality is lost with a digital readout.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Notional Future Total Solar Eclipse Equipment, Configured for Eclipse in Western Sky.
Photo of notional future total solar eclipse instrumentation, showing it set up to image an eclipse at a moderate elevation angle in the western sky, for a northern hemisphere site. This is similar to what the configuration would be if the system was used in Spain for the 12 Aug. 2026 total solar eclipse. (Though the eclipse elevation angle will be lower in Spain.) The Corona Still Image tripod on the left uses the same telescopes and related cameras as the 2024 setup, but it does not include the long cross bar to support the light meters and the meter camera. (Those items are now on the central wide angle tripod.) One addition to the Corona Still Image tripod is a small counterweight (not visible) that was not needed when tracking near the meridian, as would have been the case for the 2024 eclipse from Waco, TX. (Shifting the TeleVue 60 forward was not quite enough to eliminate the need for a counterweight in the shown configuration. Discovering this illustrates why it is always advisable to set the equipment up the same way it would be set up at a specific eclipse.) Like the top photo in this group, this picture looks a little busy, because I was unable to set up the goldenrod color background cloth for it. Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

Cameras, Lenses, Telescopes, Meters, etc., for a Notional Future Total Solar Eclipse.
Equipment for the notional future system does not crowd the table like the 2024 equipment did, even when one of the Fornax trackers, a custom wedge, and a low profile tripod head are included. Setup is fairly fast if the equipment is on a table, but a table is not something one can bring on a flight. The small point and shoot camera at the very front is not part of the eclipse setup, but would be brought on a trip. Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

Allocation of Cameras By Function and Work Load, etc:

The notional future system has a total of ten cameras. 1-2: Two capture 360 degree still images; 3: one captures 180 degree video; 4: one captures 180 degree stills; 5: one takes video of light meters with a fisheye lens; 6: one captures a sequence of all phases of the eclipse; 7-8 two capture video of the corona; and, 9-10 two capture still images of the corona.

The future setup does not require too much attention, even during totality. 1-4: Four of the cameras (one wide angle, one meter camera, two corona cameras) take video and require only occasional monitoring. 5-7: Every few seconds, an interval timer fires the shutters of two wide angle cameras, plus the digital corona camera. 8: The sequence camera runs on its own internal interval timer. 9: The Ricoh Theta only needs to be used for 2-3 photos during totality. 10. The Nikon N2020 film camera is the only one that needs to be manually fired several times, for corona photos. Most of the "operator time" is used for changing shutter speeds on the two corona still image cameras.

Of the six additional cameras the 2024 setup had: 1-3: Three (one wide angle, one tracked corona camera, one wider field untracked corona camera) took unattended video; 4: one wide angle digital still camera was fired by the interval timer; 5: one wide angle film camera was fired manually; 6: the close up corona video camera had to be repositioned once during totality. So, three of these required some attention during totality.

Even though the proposed future eclipse setup has been photographed, there are still some loose ends that will either incur cost or require significant time to implement. The most significant of these include the following:

REQUIRED ITEM:				DO LIST:
- Small 4-Channel Camera Controller:	Acquire parts and build (takes weeks).
- Add one Fuji camera w/interval timer:	Acquire X-T20, X-T4, or X-T5.
- Wedge for second star tracker:	Build per most recent drawing.
- Short post for Ricoh Theta:		Acquire parts, make it.
- Smaller Atomic Clock for assembly:	Locate and acquire clock.
- Optional: Better backup VR camera:	Acquire 360 One X2 or newer VR camera*
- Get 7.5mm to fully mount on Fuji X:	Reduce centering land dia. (Done 2024)**
- Grips for second 206 Reporter tripod:	Order/add grip rings to Gitzo.
- Reg. all items with U.S. Customs.	Bring all to port of entry, form 4457.
-- Comment: The last item is impossible to do by myself, due to my condition.
 * Acquire 360 One X series camera ONLY if camera is not phone or app dependent.

** A Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 Micro 4/3 mount fisheye lens is used on a Fuji X APS format camera to get wider horizontal and vertical fields of view. It is adapted by means of a RAF Camera MFT lens to Fuji X-mount adapter.
- However, the diameter of the centering land at the base of the bayonet mount on the Fuji side of the adapter was about 0.05mm too large, causing the adapter to bind when mounted on a Fuji X-T10 camera body, and to not even quite go on an X-T20 body. This was corrected by using a small file (that is flat on one side and rounded on the other, which also has a slight side radius) to slowly file away on the outside diameter of the centering flange and slightly reduce its diameter. This locally removes the anodizing, but the adapter worked fine after the mod. and deburring, etc.
- The RAF adapter also causes the MFT lens to be rotated about 45 degrees clockwise from its normal orientation (as seen from the front) when mounted on a Fuji X camera. This causes the lens hood petals to be rotated by the same amount, which obstructs the image. Fortunately, the lens hood is a plastic part that attaches to the front of the lens with a few screws, and it was possible to correct the rotational position of the lens hood by drilling new mounting holes in the plastic.
- The shorter lens hood petals on either side were cut off in order to get the full 180 degree field of view in the horizontal direction, since the entire image circle just barely fits within the largest orthogonal dimension of the Fuji APS image sensor. The top and bottom petals do not significantly intrude into the field of view, and were filed back a little. (The above mods more or less commit the lens to being used on a Fuji camera, so such mod's are in the "Don't try this at home" catagory!)

The Smaller Multi-Channel Camera Controller and Interval Timer:

Building a smaller camera controller and interval timer would be no easy task for someone in my condition, but it would be necessary in order to make it practical for the eclipse equipment to fit in a reasonable amount of luggage for travel by air. The the smaller of the two camera controllers is only about one third the volume of the larger one that I built mostly back in in 2017. However, I can imagine that either version (pictured below) could raise eyebrows at some airports. My 2017 eclipse web page has more information about the larger camera controller and interval timer, but a brief summary is in the caption under the drawing below.

TOP: Camera Controller I Built Before the 2017 Eclipse. BOTTOM: A Smaller Version.
This is a low resolution 640 pixel wide image. Click HERE for a larger image (1560 x 1040, 458 KB).
TOP: Twelve Channel Camera Controller and Interval Timer I designed and (partly) built before the 21 Aug. 2017 total solar eclipse. The red circles immediately below the channel numbers (1 through 12) are pushbuttons that can manually fire the corresponding cameras, in the event that it is desirable to take pictures at times other than the set interval. The smaller red circles below these are indicator LED's for each channel. When the controller is on, the LED's are on all the time, except for going out for about 1/3 of a second to indicate when a photo is taken.
- To the left of each set of four buttons is a momentary toggle switch that manually fires all four channels to its right. Farther left is a master switch that fires all 12 channels at once.
- All of the Clock Select toggle switches have a center off position, so any set of four cbannels can be independently disconnected from the interval timer, for manual operation. The master clock select also has a center off position.
- Channels 9-12 have a divider that can be selected and set to rates of 2 and 4 times slower than the other channels. The divider is mainly for use with film cameras, where the slower rate will prevent running out of film before the eclipse is over. For example, if the other channels are set to 4 seconds, but channels 9-12 are set to 16 seconds, a 36 exposure roll of film will last 9 minutes and 20 seconds, or 35 times the interval. (It is not 36 times the interval because a photo is taken at the beginning of the first 16 second interval.)
- Jacks for the camera cables are in the bottom row. These were kept on the front side of the controller so it would be more obvious which channels were connected to cameras or other devices.
- Due to lack of time (reasons are in my 2017 eclipse journal), it was only possible to complete the first four channels, and I added a modified Contax interval timer to the left side, to save the time it would have taken to build the continuously variable internal timer. The Contax timer was retained long term because its simple interface is marked in discrete inteval times in seconds. However, it was modified to provide the longer pulse duration that some digital cameras require. This 12-channel unit is too large to be practical for luggage I could handle on a foreign trip.
BOTTOM: This smaller version only has four channels, but that is adequate for a traveling setup because it is unlikely that more than four still image cameras would need to be automated anyway.
- However, it is possible that one of the channels would be used to turn on a light meter at regular intervals, as part of acquiring data for a light curve. That would only leave three available channels for cameras.
- In this version, only channel 4 and the clock out jack can utilize the divider to slow their rate in relation to the first 3 channels. This is useful for film cameras, to reduce the risk of running out of film.
- Electronic parts proved to be expensive. In 2017, it cost over US $900 to acquire the relays, switches, and other parts needed to build the 12 channel camera controller above, but some of this cost was due to minimum quantities of certain items that had to be purchased. Also, a few alternatives for potentially long lead time parts were acquired, but only a few of those had to be used. The only item that was not bought new was the small Contax interval timer, to use as a stop gap (then a permanent selectable) clock. For the smaller version of the camera controller, the parts cost thus far is $200 and counting. Even though I have been buying parts for the smaller controller, I probably won't start building it unless my health and other circumstances make it look like there is some prospect of making it to a future eclipse.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Other Aspects of Notional (Scaled Back) Future Eclipse Equipment:

The scaled back eclipse instrumentation below is lighter and requires less volume than the 2024 eclipse setup, but it is about 21 kg heavier than my 1995 eclipse setup. This is partly because the 1995 setup had only one corona video camera and one corona still camera, and neither was on a tracking mount. Also, for an average eclipse trip back in the day, film cameras did not need chargers or spare batteries, and there was no need to bring a computer to view film photos.

As in 1995, a photo vest with numerous pockets is proposed, to provide a way to carry small and light things that may need to be accessed quickly. A soft tripod case is also included, to make it possible to carry the largest tripod separately when traveling by means other than air. The proposed assembly or item weights (in pounds) in the notional future eclipse setup (not counting three optional cameras) are as follows:

(PROPOSED) FUTURE ECLIPSE EQUIPMENT WEIGHT:

ITEM (Quantity):	WEIGHT:

EQUIPMENT IN LUGGAGE:
Fuji X-T10 camera (2)	2
Fuji X-T20 camera (3)	3
Nikon N2020 camera (1)	2
Pana. GX7 (3)		3
Ricoh Theta, Acc.	1
Extra Bat./Chargers	2
Laptop Comp/PS/Plug Ad.	5
CAMERA/COMPUTER TOTAL: 18 lbs

Entaniya 3.6mm		4
Samyang 7.5 f/3.5 (2)	1
Samyang 8.0 f/2.8 (1)	1
7Artisans 28 f/1.4	1
Fuji System 2, in case	6 (-3, since cam./lenses counted separately)
AtAstra w/cam. adapt.	3
Rokin. 300 telescope	1
TeleVue 60 w/case	5
Nikon 300/4.5 ED	3
Tamron 500/8, 1.4x	2
Solar Filters (5)	1
Binoculars (10x25)	1
OPTICS TOTAL:	       26 lbs

Meter/Clock/Sup.Bar	2
Interval Timer (4 chan)	1
Fornax1 + Wedge		4
Fornax2 + Wedge		4
Counterweight f/Fornax  2
AA+9V Batteries		1
INSTRUMENT TOTAL:      14 lbs

LeapLumin BallHd (4x)	2
Slow Motion Head (2x)	2
Gitzo 1270 head		2
Gitzo 1370 head		3
Gitzo Reporter 206a	4
Gitzo Reporter 206b	4
Gitzo MiniStudex 302	5* Not Counted (Alternate for Reporter 206b)
Gitzo Studex 306a	6
Gitzo Reporter cane (2)	3
WideA.Cam Bar/Posts	4
CamCrossBar, 8.5" (2)	1
Fisheye RA Bracket	1
Tripod Apron		1
SUPPORT TOTAL:	       33 lbs

EQUIPMENT TOTAL:       91 lbs.

LUGGAGE, CLOTHES, EXTERNAL:
Rolling Bag 1 (Telesc.)	8
Rolling Bag 2 (Tpd,Brk)	8
Rigid Box for Entaniya	2
Computer Bag 1 (Cam's)	3
Computer Bag 2 (Lenses) 3
Soft Tripod Bag		1
Photo Vest (Domke)	2
Extra Clothes		5
Cleaning Supplies	1
Food, Water, Bowl, Etc.	5
TOTAL NON-EQUIPMENT:   38 lbs

TOTAL, ALL ITEMS:     129 lbs

(12.9 lbs per camera used.)

In the above list, only a few things can be removed without having a significant impact on the capability and performance of the eclipse system. A few examples are shown below, to illustrate that the total weight is not reduced enough to make much difference, even when a change (such as not bringing the Entaniya 250 degree fisheye lens) will cause a major reduction in function. Also, leaving out a computer would make it difficult to view or back up photos and data during the trip.

CHANGES VERSUS SYSTEM WEIGHT:

POTENTIAL WEIGHT REDUCTIONS:
Use 7Artisans 4mm fisheye instead of Entaniya 3.6mm:     -5 lbs
Lighter brackets and posts for Wide Angle assembly:      -1 lb
Replace Sekonic meters w/Gossen DigiSix, lighen brackets -1 lb
Replace 300mm ED Nikkor with Non-ED 300mm lens.          -1 lb
Do not bring a laptop computer/AC power supply on trip:  -5 lbs
Replace 2 rolling carry on bags w/backpacks & trolleys:  -8 lb
TOTAL weight reduction from from lightweighting:         21 lbs
...which reduces the total weight to: 129-21 =          108 lbs

Even though the above only reduces the total weight by 21 lbs, it could barely be enough to reduce the total number of bags from 4 to 3, especially if the largest bag is close to the weight limit for a checked bag. However, a large rigid case suitable for a checked bag could weigh at least 12 pounds, and only 6 pounds of this would be offset by removing the two 3 pound computer bags.

POTENTAL WEIGHT INCREASES FROM ENHANCEMENTS:
Takahashi Teegul Mount (13 lbs) instead of one Fornax:   +7 lbs
Fuji X-E1 with 7Artisans 4mm instead of Ricoh Theta S:   +1 lb
Include Optional Panasonic HDC-SD1 Camcorder & 3x conv:  +2 lbs
Camp stool (so no need to shop for one before eclipse):	 +2 lbs
TOTAL Weight Increase from Possible Enhancements:        12 lbs
...which increases the total weight to: 129+12 =        141 lbs
The enhancements would improve the system considerably (especially for astronomical observation unrelated to the eclipse), even though these only add 12 pounds to the total weight.

For the baseline 129 lb system, the heaviest piece of carry-on luggage was almost exactly 40 lbs (both by calculation and by weighing a rolling carry on with the items inside). This is on the heavy side. But the weight of this bag can be reduced to about 35 lbs. by using a non-rigid backpack instead of a semi-rigid rolling carry on. However, a backpack loaded that heavy is inconsistent with my disability, so it would have to be moved on a trolley, which would add a couple of pounds back into the total.

The 129 lb. total is not too much more than half of the 200 plus pounds of luggage (in 4 bags; 2 checked and 2 carry on) that I handled by myself (with some difficulty) early in the 1994 total solar eclipse trip to Bolivia. However, age and disability put what was once possible into the realm of the impossible. This is why a solo expedition can't even be considered with even 80 lbs of luggage, let alone 120 lbs or more.

Because carry on bag weight is excessive (40 lbs) if only three bags are used, the equipment would have to fly in at least four bags to make each one more manageable. In practice, this would probably conist of two rolling carry on bags of the maximum allowable size (22 x 14 x 9 inches), and two shoulder bags of close to the maximum size allowed by most airlines (18 x 14 x 8).

This obviously could not all be carried on by a single passenger, since 2 items tends to be the maximum. But it does lower the weight of each item. Here, the each rolling carry on would weigh about 35 pounds (31 lbs if non-rigid bags or backpacks used with trolleys), and the shoulder bags would weigh about 26 pounds each, with pockets in the 2 lb photo vest carrying the remaining 5 lbs. Unfortunately, even a 30-35 lb carry on may be heavier than what some airlines allow.

If bags are checked, the total weight would be more, because the equipment would have to be padded in a way that increases the packed volume by about 1.5 times, and a larger rolling suitcase will weigh more than a rolling carry on. However, it should still be possible to meet the 50 lb maximum that some airlines allow for a checked bag.

Complete List of Items in Notional Future Eclipse Instrumentation (Link):

Even though weight estimates above are fairly accurate, a weight estimate does not capture enough information to replicate the system down to the last knurled screw or small accessory. Since it could be years before a future eclipse setup is actually assembled again before a possible (though unlikely if my health does not improve) eclipse trip, a list of all items in the system was compiled.

The list should help reduce the risk of accidentally selling an essential part of the system, and should also make it possible to get everything together again, in the event there is an opportunity to go to another total solar eclipse. The detailed list is fairly long, so it is linked instead of being included in the text of this web page. (Linked Detailed List is Under Construction.)


Comparing Notional Future Eclipse Equipment with the 2024 Eclipse Setup:

When reducing the weight of eclipse equipment, there is a diminishing return to reducing the number of cameras without also giving up capabilities such as tracking. Even when the tripod size is reduced and a few brackets are eliminated, it does not eliminate the fixed weight of a star tracker, light meter, or other supporting equipment.

The list below shows items from the 2024 setup that are not in the smaller setup above. As the weight totals will show, the reduction in weight is not quite proportional to the reduction in the number of cameras:

2024 ITEM (Quantity):	ADDITIONAL WEIGHT:

EQUIPMENT IN LUGGAGE:
Canon SX280 Camera (1)	1
Fujifilm X-E1 Camera	0 (Canceled out by extra X-T20 above)
Leica CL / 28mm MS Opt.	1
Nikon N2020 Camera (2x)	3
Olympus E-P3 (3)	3
Panasonic Camcorder/Chg	2
Pentax Q w/charger (1)	1
ADDIT. CAMERA TOTAL:   11 lbs

Entaniya 3.0mm		4
Samyang 7.5 f/3.5 (2)	1
Samyang 12 f/2.8 FF (1) 1
Nikon 35/2, Pan 20/1.7	1
Nikon 500 f/8 Mir. (1)	2
Solar Filters (2)	1
Weight Dif. Canon 10x30	1
ADDIT. OPTICS TOTAL:   11 lbs

Larger Interval Timer	1
Sekonic/Gossen Meters	1
ADDED INSTRUMENT TOTAL:	2 lbs

Gitzo Weekend Tripod	1
Gitzo Sport Tripod (1)  3
Differ. Gitzo S2/S3 (2) 4
Gitzo PL5 hd (as wedge) 3
LeapLumin BallHd (2x)	1
Slow Motion Head (2x)	2
Post, 28" f/Theta (1)	2
Base Plate f/Studex (2)	2
Camera Bar, 17" (2)	2
Right Angle Bracket	1
Tripod Apron (2nd one)	1
ADDIT. SUPPORT TOTAL:  22 lbs

ADD. EQUIPMENT TOTAL:  42 lbs

LUGGAGE, CLOTHES, EXTERNAL:
Rolling Bag 3		8
Tripod Case (1)		6
Rigid Box for Entaniya	2
Camera Manuals		1
Cks, Mir, Tools, Etc.	1
Camp stools (2)		2
TOTAL NON-EQUIPMENT:   20 lbs

ADDITION OF ALL ITEMS: 65 lbs

TOTAL WT, 2024 EQUIP: 194 lbs

(12.1 lbs per camera used.)

ADDITIONAL 2024 Equipment Weight (As Packed for Ground Transport):

Because the 2024 equipment was packed to expedite setup time rather than reduce its transported size and weight (flying with it was not practical), the following additional weights apply to the "as packed" 2024 eclipse setup:

ADDED ITEM (Quantity):	WEIGHT:

EQUIPMENT IN LUGGAGE:
Spare Nikon N2020	1
Motorized Pano Platform 4 (Optional)
Optional Tripod Leveler	2 (Optional)
TOTAL EXTRA IN LUGGAGE	7

Elevated Mount for Pano 4
ADDIT. SUPPORT TOTAL:   4 lbs

LUGGAGE, CLOTHES, EXTERNAL:
Entaniya Lens cases (2) 6  (Added weight, after subtracing 2x 2 lb boxes)
Rigid Camera case 1	6
Rigid Camera case 2	4
Fornax Mount case 1	4
Camera Bracket Case	6
Plastic File Boxes (4)	8
TOTAL NON-EQUIPMENT:   34 lbs

WEIGHT OF ABOVE ITEMS: 45 lbs
WEIGHT OF 2024 LIST:  194 lbs

TOTAL WT, 2024 EQUIP: 239 lbs

At 14.9 lbs per camera used, the grand total weight for the 16 camera system is more per camera than the scaled back system. However, the 239 lb grand total for the "as packed" 2024 eclipse setup (which was intended for ground transport only) was not for a system intended to be lightweight.

The 2024 grand total also further includes two additional cameras: A spare Nikon N2020 (for using a second type of film if time permits), and a film camera with a wide angle lens for taking pictures of subjects other than the eclipse. When these other cameras are counted, the per-camera 2024 system weight is 13.3 pounds.

In addition to the 2024 equipment weight shown above, I had packed personal items such as a food bowl, toothbrush, etc., in a separate train case, rather than mingling such items with the equipment. And I was bringing more food, water, etc., than would be the case if traveling by air. That probably added at least another 10 pounds to the above 239 pound 2024 eclipse equipment total.

So it is safe to say that everything packed for the 2024 eclipse equaled or exceeded 250 lbs.

Results from a Future Total Solar Eclipse:
  • Will it be possible to go to another total eclipse? Will there be any results?
  • Stay tuned after each future eclipse, to see if I made it, and what the results are!
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

Return to Local Table of Contents


Appendix D: Other (Partial) Solar Eclipses:


This Chapter Covers Other Partial Solar Eclipses. Some of it is Under Construction.
It is envisioned that this chapter will (eventually) include the following solar eclipses:
  • 13 Dec. 1974, partial eclipse imaged from Estes Park, Colorado. (B&W Photo) -
    (Photo with Soligor 90-230mm lens, Miranda Sensorex II. 230mm, 1/1000 sec, f/22.)
  • 12 Oct. 1977, imaged as Partial Eclipse from Estes Park, Colorado. (B&W Photo) -
    (400mm f/6.3 lens, 2x converter, Miranda Sensorex II camera. 1/1000 sec at f/64.)
  • 30 May, 1984, imaged as Partial Eclipse from Phoenix, Arizona. (B&W Sequence) -
    (135mm Caltar II lens, Kodak Master View Camera, 4x5 Polaroid back. Partly cloudy.)
  • 4 Jan, 1992, annular from SoCal. Clouded out before sun half covered. (Color Photos) -
    (Vernonscope 94mm f/7 refractor telescope, Nikon F, Sony TR7 with 3x converter.)
  • 14 Dec. 2001, imaged as partial eclipse from Phoenix, Arizona (Color Photo) -
    (Sony DSC-F707 camera, solar filter. Imaged from hospital through thick clouds.)
  • 10 Jun. 2002, imaged as partial eclipse from Pasadena, CA. (Color Sequence) +
    (Pentax 6x7 camera with 105mm f/2.4 lens and solar filter.)
  • 20 May, 2012, imaged as partial eclipse from Los Angeles, CA. (Color Photo) +
    (Vernonscope 94mm f/7 refractor telescope, solar filter, Olympus E-P2 camera.)
  • 23 Oct. 2014, imaged as partial eclipse from Pasadena, CA. (Color Photo) +
    (Projection with Specwell 8x20 monocular. Olympus E-P2 and 17mm f/2.8 lens.)
  • 14 Oct. 2023, imaged as partial eclipse from Los Angeles, CA. (Color Photo) -
    (Ad Asrta III telescope, Coronado PST, Fujifilm X-T10 and X-T20 cameras.)
Comments:
* If a "+" (plus sign) appears to the right of a line, an image of the listed eclipse appears below.
* If a "-" (minus sign) appears to the right of a line, no images of the listed eclipse appear below.
* See the rest of my www.eclipsechaser.com web site for photos of total solar eclipses.
* Lunar eclipses may later be covered in a separate web page.


Partial Solar Eclipse (from Pasadena, CA). 10 June, 2002:
Solar Eclipse of 10 June, 2002 (Sequence)
This seqence picture was taken from Pasadena, CA, with a Pentax 6x7 film camera, 105mm lens, and solar filter. In a dark room, the film was wound forward and placed in the camera without a takeup spool. This allowed the camera shutter to be wound and fired without moving the film, enabling a multiple exposure picture. The photo of the sky and foreground was taken with the same camera and lens, but with the solar filter removed after the sun was behind a tree. Unlike the 2024 eclipse, the moon's motion in relation to the sun was almost parallel with the sun's apparent motion across the sky. This is because the 2002 eclipse occurred near the time of summer solstice, so the earth's axis was not significantly tilted CW or CCW (as seen from the sun) with respect to the earth's orbital plane.
More photos of this eclipse may be added later. Copyright 2002 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Partial Solar Eclipse (from Sunland / Shadow Hills, CA). 20 May, 2012:
Solar Eclipse of 20 May, 2012 (Maximum Eclipse from Shadow Hills, CA)
This picture of (local) maximum eclipse was taken from Shadow Hills, CA, with a Vernonscope 94mm f/7 refractor telescope and an Olympus E-P2 Micro 4/3 camera. The annular eclipse path was within 400 miles of my area, but I could not make the trip because I lacked the medical overhead for it while I was working part time.
A stereo photo of this eclipse may be added later. Copyright 2012 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Partial Solar Eclipse (from Pasadena, CA). 23 October, 2014:
Solar Eclipse of 23 October, 2014 (Eyepiece Projection)
This photo is the ultimate example of how "the telescope you have with you is the one that gets used." This eclipse was on a work day. For some time, work had been busy enough that I had not bothered to look into when a solar eclipse would happen. However, as I was coming in to work, I drove past some people on a sidewalk who were looking through a telescope that was fitted with a solar filter. I had no telescope or solar filter with me, but I did have my 30 year old Specwell 8 x 20 monocular. So I held the monocular in my hand and focused it to form a projected image of the sun, as shown at bottom left. This revealed that an eclipse was in progress. The larger image is a closer photo of the projected image. It is't a very good picture, but it is memorable because of the large sunspot group. The projected image was photographed with an Olympus E-P1 Micro 4/3 camera and an Olympus 17mm f/2.8 pancake lens.
This is my only photo of this eclipse. Copyright 2014 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Appendix E: Solar Transits of Mercury and Venus:


This Chapter Covers Solar Transits of Mercury and Venus. Some of it is Under Construction.
This chapter includes the following transits:
  • 8 Nov. 2006 Transit of Mercury. (photo of ingress) +
  • 8 Nov. 2006 Transit of Mercury. (sequence) -
  • 8 Nov. 2006 Transit of Mercury. (photos of equipment) +
  • 5 Jun. 2012 Transit of Venus. (black drop effect during ingress) -
  • 5 Jun. 2012 Transit of Venus. (sequence) -
  • 5 Jun. 2012 Transit of Venus. (stereo image) +
  • 5 Jun. 2012 Transit of Venus. (photo of equipment) -
  • 9 May, 2016 Transit of Mercury. (clouded out, so is only equipment photo) +
  • 11 Nov. 2019 Transit of Mercury. (photo of egress) +
  • 11 Nov. 2019 Transit of Mercury. (photos of equipment) +
Comments:
* If a "+" (plus sign) appears to the right of a line, an image of the listed transit appears below.
* If a "-" (minus sign) appears to the right of a line, no images of the listed transit appear below.
* Occultations and planetary conjunctions may later be covered in a separate web page.


Transit of Mercury. 8 November, 2006:
Transit of Mercury, 8 November, 2006. Ingress at 19:13 GMT.
Ingress during the 8 Nov. 2006 transit of Mercury. Taken from Pasadena, CA, with a Vernonscope 94mm f/7 refractor telescope and a 48mm Brandon eyepiece. A Sony DSC-F707 digital camera was positioned right behind the eyepiece for this afocal picture. Mercury is the small interruption in the solar limb near the lateral center of the picture. For this transit, I also set up a Coronado PST Hydrogen-Alpha telescope to see if I could catch Mercury in front of a solar prominence before it reached the photosphere. Unfortunately, I was overcome with fatigue a few minutes before the transit began, and did not recover in time to use the PST. As fate would have it, another photographer took an H-Alpha photo that showed Mercury did transit in front of a prominence only a few minutes before this photo was taken.
More photos of this transit may be added later. Copyright 2006 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

Equipment Used for 8 November 2006 Transit of Mercury
From left to right:
1.) Vernonscope 94mm f/7 refractor with afocal adapter (uses 48mm Brandon eyepiece) and Sony DSC-F707 camera.
2.) Coronado PST Hydrogen-Alpha solar telescope (used visually and for photos).
3.) Soligor 450mm f/8 lens with the same custom afocal adapter that I made for the telescope.
The custom afocal adapter can be used on larger telescopes with an 85mm f/1.8 camera lens instead of the eyepiece.
Copyright 2019 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Transit of Venus. 5 June, 2012:
Transit of Venus, 5 June, 2012. Black Drop Effect During Ingress (Under Construction)
Ingress during the 5 June, 2012 transit of Venus, showing the "black drop effect". The effect was observed and imaged with telescopes of different apertures (62, 94, 102mm), and was found to persist longer with smaller aperture optics and/or lower resolution camera settings. It is caused almost entirely by the optics (solar limb darkening may play a minor role), and otherwise is not a characteristic of the sun or Venus. This image is a frame from a 720p video that was taken with an Olympus E-P2 camera on a Vernonscope 94mm refractor telescope having a full aperture solar filter. Taken from Shadow Hills, CA.
More photos of this transit may be added later. Copyright 2012 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

Transit of Venus, 5 June, 2012 (3D Stereo)
Some processing was required on one of the two images to make this 3D stereo image of the Venus transit of 5 June, 2012. One of the photos is a stack of a 1/80 second and 1/3200 second exposures that is not processed beyond stacking and adjusting contrast and brightness. In the other image, the sun was shifted slightly to one side, then Venus was shifted an even smaller amount. The motion of Venus in front of the sun can cause a pair of images to work as a stereo pair without any processing at all, but only when they are rotated so that the motion of Venus will be purely side to side in the photos. However, the relative motion of Venus would be in a diagonal direction at sunset.
The original photo was taken with an Olympus E-P2 Micro 4/3 camera and a Version 1 Leitz Telyt-R 250mm f/4 lens. The exposures are 1/80 sec. at f/5.6 and 1/3200 second at f/22, with no solar filter. Taken from Shadow Hills, CA.
More photos of this transit may be added later. Copyright 2012 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

Equipment Used for 5 June 2012 Transit of Venus (Place Holder)
Several telescopes and lenses were used for the 2012 transit of Venus. In the order of ascending aperture, the telescopes and lenses included:
1.) Leitz Telyt-R 250mm f/4 lens on Olympus E-P2 camera (for 3D sunset photo)
2.) Hassleblad 500C with 350mm f/5.6 lens and V96C digital back (for sequence photo).
3.) Ednar Mirror Scope 500 (500mm f/8 mirror lens with eyepiece), for visual observation of the transit.
4.) Vernonscope 94mm f/7 refractor, for video and photos of the transit with an Olympus E-P2 camera.
5.) Meade 2045 LX3 (102mm f/10) SCT, for close up video of ingress with a Watec video camera.
6.) Meade ETX-105, for passers by to visually observe the transit.
- An atomic clock was used for noting the contact times.
Copyright 2012, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Transit of Mercury. 9 May, 2016 (Clouded Out! But photo of equipment I set up is below.)
Transit of Mercury, 9 May, 2016. (Equipment under a cloudy sky.)
Even though weather prospects were not good for observing the 9 May 2016 transit of Mercury, I set up my equipment anyway. Even if the transit was not visible, I could do mock imaging session to be sure that the equipment was all in order, as a precursor to the 2017 total solar eclipse. From left to right, the equipment includes:
1.) Leica 350mm f/4.8 Telyt-R lens with Leica 2x converter on Olympus E-P2 camera.
2.) Panasonic HDC-SD1 camcorder with a home made 3x converter lens I made in 1991.
3.) Coronado PST, set up to see if Mercury would transit a prominence.
4.) Questar Duplex 3.5 with Panasonic GX7 Micro 4/3 camera.
5.) Ednar Mirror Scope 500, to observe the transit while the other instruments are tied up.
- All of the lenses and telescopes except the Coronado PST have front solar filters.
Copyright 2016 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Transit of Mercury. 11 November, 2019:
Transit of Mercury, 11 November, 2019. Egress.
Egress during the 11 Nov. 2019 transit of Mercury. Taken from Shadow Hills, CA, with a Celestron C5 telescope, 16mm (tbr) Nagler eyepiece, and solar filter. This image is cropped from a 1080p video frame, from a video that was taken with a Fujifilm X-T10 camera and a Fujinon 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 working at 45mm f/5.6, and used for afocal imaging at the eyepiece. This photo has a larger image scale and more resolution than the photos taken with cameras at Cassegrain focus on the other telescopes.
More photos of this transit may be added later. Copyright 2019 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

Equipment Used for 11 November 2019 Transit of Mercury (Rear View)
From left to right:
1.) Celestron C5 with 16mm Nagler eyepiece, used visually and for afocal video.
2.) Questar Duplex 3.5 with Fujifilm X-T10 camera, for photos.
3.) Ad Astra III telescope and Panasonic GX7 camera, for video.
4.) Coronado PST telescope with Barlow and Panasonic GX7 camera, for photos and video.
5.) Not shown: Ednar Mirror Scope 500, to observe the transit while the other instruments are tied up.
- An atomic clock is in the background.
Copyright 2019 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

Equipment Used for 11 November 2019 Transit of Mercury (Front View)
From right to left:
1.) Celestron C5 with 16mm Nagler eyepiece, used visually and for afocal video.
2.) Questar Duplex 3.5 with Fujifilm X-T10 camera, for photos.
3.) Ad Astra III telescope and Panasonic GX7 camera, for video.
4.) Coronado PST telescope with Barlow and Panasonic GX7 camera, for photos and video.
- All of the telescopes except the Coronado PST have front solar filters.
Copyright 2019 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Appendix F: Solar Prominences of Note in Current and Past Years:


This Chapter Covers Prominences of Note in Current & Past Years. Some is Under Construction.
All prominence photos were taken through a Coronado PST solar telescope.
Thus far, this chapter includes prominences from the following dates:
  • 11 May, 2012 (several large prominences; my first composite prominence image) +
  • 9 May, 2024 (bright 300,000 km wide prominence relatively near large sunspot group) +
  • 10 May, 2024 (huge loop prominence that is almost 500,000 km wide!) +
  • White light photo of large sunspot group in Active Region AR3664. 9 May, 2024. +
Comments:
* If a "+" (plus sign) appears to the right of a line, an image for the listed date appears below.
* If a "-" (minus sign) appears to the right of a line, no images for the listed date appear below.


Solar Prominences of 11 May, 2012:
Solar Prominences of 11 May, 2012 (Composite)
Solar prominences in Hydrogen-Alpha, plus Hydrogen-Alpha surface detail, through a Coronado PST solar telescope. Composite of four 0.77 to 1 second exposures. The front end of a 2x Astrola Barlow lens was used on the 1.25 inch camera adapter to provide enough back focus for an Olympus E-P2 camera. The visible light image at upper right was taken with the same camera, using a 400mm f/5.6 ED Nikkor lens with a Nikon 2x converter and a solar filter.
Copyright 2012 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.


Large (Huge!) Solar Prominences of 9-10 May, 2024:
Bright 300,000 KM Wide Solar Prominence of 9 May, 2024, 18:15 PDT.
The large prominence in this picture was the biggest prominence I had ever imaged or observed in person! It is about 0.22 solar diameters (over 300,000 km) wide, and its height is close to 0.08 solar diameters, or 110,000 km. (It's huge!) The prominence is so bright that H-Alpha surface detail is obvious in the same photo, so this is not a composite image. This photo was taken at on 9 May, 2024, at 18:15 (Pacific), using a Coronado PST solar telescope, 2x Astrola Barlow lens, and Fujifilm X-T10 camera working at ISO 800. Exposure is 1/8 second at f/20. Taken from Shadow Hills, CA. Visually, the prominence looked dimmer than shown, with a lot of detail that usually does not come through in photos. Some detail is visible in shorter exposures, but the shorter exposures did not capture the full extent of the prominence.
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

500,000 KM Wide Solar Prominence Pair of 10 May, 2024, 12:20 PDT.
An even larger prominence in the same area on 10 May 2024! (Larger if the span of both is considered.) This pair of prominences form a loop that spans almost 500,000 km! These larger prominences are less than half as bright as the previous day's huge prominence, so the solar photosphere is imaged brighter by comparison. Photo was taken on 10 May, 2024 at 12:20 PDT, using a Coronado PST Hydrogen-Alpha solar telescope, 2x Astrola Barlow lens, and Fujifilm X-T10 camera working at ISO 800. Exposure is 1/2 second at f/20. Regions of the prominences that are close to the solar limb are imaged brighter than their visual appearance, because the combination of the PST and a digital camera causes a dim ghost image of the solar limb to influence that area on dimmer features, even after the brightness of the ghost image was reduced in post. Near the bottom of the picture, the earth and moon (as well as the distance between the earth and moon) are rendered to scale with the prominence!
Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

White Light Photo of Sunspots in Active Region AR3664 on 9 May, 2024, 18:35 PDT.
This sunspot group in Active Region (AR) 3664 was imaged with an Ad Astra III 78mm f/9.75 Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope and a white light solar filter. Color saturation was reduced to remove the orange cast from the filter. The photo isn't particularly sharp because the sun was at a low elevation angle. This sunspot group is probably close to a tie with the third or fourth largest sunspot group I ever observed. Taken on 9 May, 2024 at 18:35 Pacific time with a Fujifilm X-T10 camera working at ISO 800. Exposure is 1/125 second at f/9.75, through a solar filter. This is one region of the sun that made the news that week. The prominences pictured above are not associated with this region. They are instead associated with regions that are closer to, or even on, the solar limb. Photo taken from Shadow Hills, CA. Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Appendix G: Photos of Falcon 9, etc., Launches from Vandenberg SFB, as seen from L.A.:


After I began to get caught up on the things that could be accomplished from home after the long Frontier outage in March of 2024, I found that Falcon 9 launches from Vandenberg SFB were becoming more common. The first one I observed and imaged from home was on 23 June, 2024.

The cameras and lenses tried first were a Fujifilm X-T20 with the Fujifilm 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. The camera was working at ISO 3,200 while taking 1080p video at 60 frames per second. The other camera was also an X-T20, but it was used on a Questar 3.5 (89mm f/16) Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope, using the same camera settings.

Tracking with the Questar is accomplished by using an 8mm eyepiece to view the rocket through the Questar finder (for a magnification of about 12x), while the image from the main telescope is imaged at the camera. Manual tracking with mechanical slow motion controls on the Questar mount worked fairly well, through the track had to be briefly interrupted every now and then to change my grip on the slow motion control knobs. Results from the 23 June twilight launch were fairly dim, in spite of using the cameras at ISO 3.200. Therefore, I decided to use faster f/ratio optics for the next mid to late twilight launch.

The next launch was on 28 June. It occurred only 10 minutes after sunset, so a fast f-stop was not required. For this launch, I used a Questar 3.5 again, but with a focal reducer (similar concept to a modern day "Speed Booster" for camera lenses) to provide an extra f-stop of brightness at the expense of a shorter focal length. I also lowered the frame rate to 30 frames per second, since this provided a longer exposure time for each frame. This worked better, but since the 28 June launch was well before dark, it was not a good test for what would work well for a night launch.

The setup after that was a 300mm f/4 ED Nikkor lens, mounted on a cross bar that is in turn on a fluid head. A pair of binoculars is used on one end of the cross bar, so the rocket is automatically tracked with the camera while following it with the binoculars. The brighter f/4 focal ratio of the 300mm lens provides a brighter image of the rocket plume, at the expense of smaller image scale.

Unfortunately, before I could use the 300mm lens, yet another long outage of Frontier phone and Internet in early July (lasting over a week yet again) caused me to miss a few of the next launches. (Without Internet, I had no way to tell when they would happen!) The missed launches included the launch of a smaller Firefly Alpha rocket. Those who would have liked to see images of those launches have Frontier Communications to "thank" for the lack of related photos.

Falcon 9 Launch of 28 June, 2024, showing first and second stages shortly after staging.
This photo shows the first and second stages of the Falcon 9 rocket, shortly after staging. The first stage (toward right) is performing part of a brief boostback maneuver in preparation for landing on the drone ship named "Of Course I Still Love You." Another object was extremely close to the separated first stage, but it is obscured by the plume from the boostback maneuver. Photo is cropped from a 1080p video frame, taken with a Questar 3.5 telescope and a Versacorp 0.6x focal reducer, for a working focal length of about 855mm, f/9.6. The camera is a Fujifilm X-T20 APS format mirrorless, set to ISO 800 and 30 frames per second at 1080p resolution. Tracking was by hand, using the mechanical slow motion controls on the Questar telescope mount. Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

Falcon 9 Launch of 28 June, 2024, showing second stage and separated payload fairings.
This photo shows the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, shortly after separation of the payload fairings, which are the two small bright objects toward the right. The rocket exhaust plume is now wider and more diffuse because it expands rapidly at high altitude. Photo is cropped from a 1080p video frame, taken with a Questar 3.5 telescope and a Versacorp 0.6x focal reducer, for a working focal length of about 855mm, f/9.6. The camera is a Fujifilm X-T20 APS format mirrorless, set to ISO 800, 30 frames per second, 1080p. The launch from Vandenberg SFB was at about 20:14 PDT, so the sky was not very dark. Copyright 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles, All Rights Reserved.

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Appendix H: Details About Some Items I Use for Eclipses and Other Astronomy:
(I am NOT paid to mention these items.)


Some specific product brands and models are mentioned in this web page, as well as in my other eclipse web pages, and in my camera, lens, and telescope review pages. DISCLAIMER: Unless otherwise noted, the mentioned products were acquired with my own funds at the market price. Most were purchased used from third parties. This eclipsechaser.com web site is "sponsored" by my company, Versacorp, in that I pay the ISP to host it. But this is moot in terms of what I write about products, since Versacorp has not offered new telescope accessories for years. Other than that, I am not sponsored. Therefore, if I write that I like a product, or if I point out its advantages, it is because I really like it or see its advantages, and I was not paid to write it.

Following is a summary of why I use certain items for eclipses, or in some cases, other astronomical or photographic applications. A few more may be added to this chapter over time. In general, the brands will be mentioned in alphabetical order.

Contents of Appendix G (scroll to each item):
  • Ad Astra III Telescope (78mm f/9.75 Maksutov-Cassegrain)
  • Borg 76 ED Telescope (76mm f/6.58 ED Refractor)
  • Celestron C5 and C8 Telescopes (Vintage Versions in Fork Mounts)
  • Ednar/Jason/Kenko/Pentax Mirror Scope 500
  • Entaniya HAL 250 Degree Fisheye Lens
  • Fornax LighTrack II Mount
  • Fujifilm X APS Format Digital Cameras (and selected lenses)
  • Gitzo Tripods (the older aluminum ones)
  • LeapLumin Ball Head and Metal Phone and Tablet Holders, etc.
  • Leica Telyt-R 250mm f/4 Lenses (Versions 1 and 2)
  • Nikon ED Nikkor and Reflex-Nikkor Lenses in 180mm to 1,000mm FL Range
  • Nikon 10 x 25 Travelite III Binoculars
  • Questar Duplex 3.5 (89mm f/16 Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope)
  • Samyang/Rokinon Fisheye Lenses (7.5mm MFT, 8mm APS, 12mm Full Frame)
  • Starizona EVO-FF V2 Field Flattener (used on a TeleVue 60 telescope)
  • Takahshi HI-OR Eyepieces (2.8mm and 4mm in 0.965" Barrels)
  • Tamron SP Adaptall 2 500mm f/8 Mirror Lens
  • TeleVue Type 6 Nagler Eyepieces (2.5mm to 13mm)
  • Threaded Glass Solar Filters (Seymour Solar and Thousand Oaks)
  • Vernonscope Brandon Eyepieces (6, 8, 12, 16, 24, 32, 48mm)
  • Versacorp DiaGuider (TM) and VersaScope (TM) Adapter (tooting my own horn here!)
  • Versacorp VersAgonal (TM) Multi-Function Flip Mirror (tooting my own horn again!)
  • Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic lens (Leica M Mount)
  • ZWO Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector (ADC)
Ad Astra III Telescope (78mm f/9.75 Maksutov-Cassegrain):
The Ad Astra III telescope produces better images than other Cassegrain telescopes of similar aperture and f/ratio. This is because the secondary mirror spot on the Ad Astra has a different radius than the rest of the Maksutov corrector. This makes it possible to implement an f/ratio of f/9.75 and still achieve diffraction limited performance. Other Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes that are f/12 or faster tend to have enough spherical aberration to take the edge off the image. Its only drawback is that it lacks a conventional way to attach a finder scope. Unfortunately, the Ad Astra went out of production decades ago, and relatively few were sold.

Borg 76 ED Telescope (76mm f/6.58 ED Refractor):
In 2020, I began to use a Borg 76 ED telescope, and it soon became my main grab and go scope. Its light weight and compact design make it more portable than other refractors in its aperture range. Its its images are excellent, especially when used with the Borg 1.08x field flattener. The Borg also has unusually low flare, so it can image earthshine on the moon, even when the moon is 3/4 illuminated. I have not used the Borg 77 ED or their fluorite telescopes, but I'd assume they would also be good. And in general, Borg refractors tend to be more compact than other designs.

Celestron C5 and C8 Telescopes (Vintage Versions in Fork Mounts):
The vintage Celestron 5 and 8 telescopes in the fork mount that were sold mostly in the 1970's and 1980's are failry easy to use, and most have relatively good optics.
- Very few C5 and C8 telescopes will produce a completely symmetrical Airy disk and diffraction rings, but the aperture gain over the smaller telescopes that do have good Airy patterns often more than makes up for it, at least when the seeing is good enough to take advantage of the aperture.
- The versions referred to here are those in which the primary mirror is registered to the mirror thimble with potting compound so that its position on the thimble is not adjustable. The rear cells for these telescopes usually have radial ribs on the back, though the Ultima 8 telescope also has this mirror configuration. When the primary mirrors are potted into position, the only collimation adjustment is at the secondary mirror, which means that this is the only place where collimation can drift. In practice, all Celestron SCT's I have used from this period (about half a dozen to date) have maintained collimation for several years.
- Very early C5 telescopes had a motor base that was over an inch smaller than the common one.
- Vintage C5 and C8 telescopes are mentioned because they were better than newer versions in some respects. In particular (as noted above), the primary mirror was permanently fixed to the mirror thimble that slides along the primary baffle tube for focusing. This provides better long term alignment than is the case for newer telescopes in which the primary mirror tilt is internally or externally adjustable. If the primary mirror is affixed to the mirror thimble with reasonable accuracy (easy to do with a jig), there is no need for a tilt adjustment. Also, more parts of the vintage telescopes were metal, which reduced the risk that outgassing from internal plastic parts would fog the optics over time.
- I always wanted to see Celestron come out with versions of both telescopes that ran on a 9 volt battery, while retaining the round motor base, but that never happened.
- It would be even better to see a C5 with the smaller motor base made again, but with a battery operated clock drive, since it would just barely be small enough to carry onto an airplane. And with the smaller motor base, it could also be used on a smaller tripod.
- Currently, my C5 is kept in a modified Kodak 16mm movie projector case that is only about 20 percent larger than the Questar 3.5 case in two dimensions, and 30 percent larger in height. The C5 telescope stores vertically in the case, along with its power cord, a flip mirror (with a camera adapter attached), three eyepeices, a full aperture solar filter, and a star chart.
- I also had a Celestron Ultima 11 telescope, but was not able to even lift it as of about 15 years ago. I tend to like Celestron SCT telescopes more than Meade, partly because the Celestron scopes have slightly better light baffles, and because the focus knob on a Celestron is easier to turn without vibrating the telescope.
- I also prefer old school equatorial fork mounts over computer controlled mounts. Equatorial fork mounts are faster to align than computer controlled ones. The lack of slew motors also makes them quieter, which is important when using a telescope at night in densely populated areas.
- Having said that, I did acquire a 12 inch Meade LX200 telescope (but it is currently at my brother's place in another state). It was acquired because its mount can be used in alt-azimuth mode, and its dual arm fork mount is more compatible with being modified to provide a Nasmyth focus. When so modified, and combined with a suitable relay lens assembly, the LX200 telescope should work as a wheelchair accessible telescope. It will be quite a project to have it modified and then have the mechanical interface for the relay lens assembly machined. Details are on Page 6 of my 2018 "Accessible Telescopes" paper, at: http://www.versacorp.com/vlink/jcart/accteljc.pdf

Ednar/Jason/Kenko/Pentax Mirror Scope 500:
The Mirror Scope 500 (sold as various brands) is a 500mm f/8 mirror lens, combined with a matched rear section having a 45 degree roof prism, tripod mount, threaded eyepiece holder, and an eyepiece. The front filter size is 72mm.
- In situations where a 45 degree prism is suitable, they are a very compact telescope that usually comes with an 17mm to 20mm eyepiece that provides a magnification between 25x and 30x.
- A fairly rare 10mm threaded eyepiece can be used to get 50x, which is about the highest magnification that is possible with decent image quality.
- While not intended for the Mirror Scope, the Volcano top version of the 16mm Konig eyepiece has a compatible thread size, so it can be unscrewed from its barrel and used in the telescope.
- The 500mm lens section can be unscrewed from the rear assembly used for photography in conjunction with a T-ring, but the contrast is fairly low.
- The Kenko version of the Mirror Scope is the most versatile, because it generally came with a 1.5x teleconverter that could be used visually or for photography. The Kenko version tends to have a P-Thread (42mm x 1.0mm) rather than a T-thread (42mm x 0.75mm).
- On one occasion, I ran across a Kenko Mirror Scope that had a standard 1.25 inch eyepiece holder in the back, rather than the threaded eyepiece holder.
- Of the brands I have tested, the two tested Ednars had the best image quality, and Kenko and Pentax were almost as good. But the Jason was terrible, having figure-eight shaped star images.
- Most brands also offered a Mirror Scope 300, which was a 300mm f/5 (or in some cases f/5.6) mirror lens that includes the same back end. These generally are not as sharp and some tend to have a bit of field curvature. The 300mm versions usually have a shorter focal length eyepiece that provides a magnification of 25x to 30x, with the latter being provided by a 10mm eyepiece.
- An old Ednar catalog shows that they made versions with a 90 degree prism on the back, and in focal lengths of 500mm and 1,000mm, but I have never seen the 90 degree version or the 1,000mm version in person.

Entaniya HAL 250 Degree Fisheye Lens ("I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."):
Anyone who has followed my writing will know I have been into wide angle and 360 degree panoramic imaging since the late 1970's, and that I have a few patents (now expired) for mostly reflective optical systems with hyperhemispherical coverage (clear up to full sphere coverage) that can image the entire horizon in a single photo when pointed straight up or straight down. Decades ago, I also had rough designs for 300 degree fisheye lenses, but had no way to make them. I liked the fisheye lens approach, because the raw image had no visible obstructions or transitions.
- When I heard of the Entaniya 250 degree fisheye lens for MFT in late 2016, I was hooked. I wanted to try one for the 2017 eclipse, but they were not available to rent by then. Between 2017 and 2024, it was possible to acquire two used 3.0mm f/2.8 lenses for less than the new cost of one. I then bought a new 3.6mm rear element group and several other items from Entaniya.
- Both Entaniya 250 degree lenses were in the 2024 eclipse setup because they would provide 360 degree images that did not require any stitching. Also, the camera position could remain fixed with the fisheye lens (making it easier to monitor), while it would rotate on my panoramic platform.
- Unfortunately, Entaniya did not make adapters for Fuji X cameras, but it was possible to cobble something together using their MFT adapters and two Fuji X lens mounts.
- I also have the smaller Entaniya 220, 250, and 280 degree lenses, and made a relay lens assembly to enlarge the 280 degree image circle from 4.1mm to 12mm. However, this was not suitable for a total eclipse because the smaller lens works at f/8 when the image is enlarged to a 12mm circle.

Fornax LighTrack II Mount:
In 2016, I bought a new Fornax LighTrack II mount to see how it compared to the AstroTrac TT320x. I quickly found that the Fornax was easier to use, and it had more accurate tracking.
- I particularly like that the tracking rate can be changed on the fly, and reset buttons for the sector drive can also be used to position objects in the frame, or for a partial reset if time is critical.
- I bought a second LighTrack II mount before the 2017 eclipse, and both worked well for deep sky imaging in Idaho.
- Unfortunately, the run time proved to be 107 to 108 minutes instead of the "approximately two hours" in the specifications and reviews I had seen. It was not possible to test the run time before the eclipse, and both mounts stopped tracking just before totality in 2017. After the manufacturer was informed of this, they changed the published specification to the actual 107 minutes. I also added simple run time remaining indicators to both of my Fornax mounts.
- In spite of the issue in 2017, the Fornax mounts were in my 2024 eclipse setup, and are in my notional future eclipse setup. This is partly because they have enough load capacity, and because they are also accurate enough for unguided night sky imaging at reasonably long focal lengths.

Fujifilm X APS Format Digital Cameras (and selected lenses):
Shortly after the 2017 eclipse, I got into the Fujifilm X camera system. The main reason I got my first Fujifilm camera (an X-T10) is because it had a shutter speed dial that would make changing shutter speeds on my motorized indexing panoramic platform easier. Since then, I have found that I tend to make fewer errors in general because of the user interface on Fujifilm cameras.

Another important feature of the Fujifilm X cameras I use is a switch on the camera that locks out the Autofocus. (Handy for eclipses!) One advantage of the X-T10 camera in particular is that it does not have much in the way of color artifacts that run in orthogonal directions. Most other digital cameras, including the X-T20 and tested MFT cameras, do have such artifacts.

A detailed review of Fujifilm cameras and specific Fujifilm X mount lenses was reasonably close to being finished back in late 2020, just before contentious parties (bank, HMO, etc.) turned being POA for my late friend into a 3-year slog that was all I could handle. It may be possible to finish that review later this year. In the meantime, I will just list the lenses I have used on Fujifilm X-T10 and X-T20 cameras, with a brief "one liner" comment about each one:

The main lenses I use (and keep in or with the camera case) are:
- 4.0mm f/2.8 7artisans fisheye lens (covers 225 degrees, but with compression at edge)
- 8.0mm f/2.8 Rokinon Fisheye Lens II (sharp wide open, for most hyper wide photos)
- 10mm f/5.6 Voigtlander VM Hyper Wide Heliar (adapted from LM; 15mm equivalent)
- 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 Fujinon OIS (moderately wide to short telephoto zoom, slow f-stop)
- 18mm f/2.0 Fujinon pancake lens (used on the X-T10 that I take everywhere)
- 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Tamron (for when changing lenses would be a pain)
- 28mm f/1.4 7Artisans ASPH (medium wide on APS with shallow DOF; soft wide open)
- 40mm f/1.4 Voigtlander Nokton Classic (for most shallow DOF/low light pictures)
- 60mm f/2.4 Fujinon Macro (for shallow depth of field, copy, and macro photos)
- Fujifilm brand 11mm and 16mm extension tubes (third party brands were poor)
- 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 Fujinon (for most telephoto shots in bright conditions)
- 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Fujinon (for long tele images, fairly sharp wide open)
- Fujifilm 1.4x Tele-Coverter (to use with 100-400mm and Borg 76 ED)
- Fujifilm brand Leica M to FX adapter (has a button to bring up FL setting menu)

Lenses I use occasionally (but don't always carry around) include:
- 3.6mm f/2.8 Entaniya HAL 250 Fisheye Lens (for VR imaging; sharp at f/2.8)
- 6.5mm f/2.0 Opteka Fisheye Lens (mostly for all-sky photos at f/2.8)
- 7.5mm f/3.5 Samyang Micro 4/3 lens, adapted to FX (more coverage than 8mm)
-- The 7.5mm is adapted using the adapter by RAF Camera, but mod's were also required.
- 12mm f/2.0 Rokinon rectilinear (for wide angle landscapes, interiors, astrophotos)
- 90mm f/2.8 Leica Elmarit-M (for faster f/ratio at 135mm equivalent FL)
- 135mm f/3.4 Leica APO Telyt-M (mostly for astrophotography)
- 180mm f/4.0 Voigtlander APO Lanthar (mostly for astrophotography)
- 300mm f/4 Nikon ED Nikkor (mostly for astrophotography)
- Borg 76ED Telescope (500mm f/6.6, for wildlife and astrophotography)

Existing cameras and lenses I hope to acquire/test, or suggested (S) optics I wish Fujifilm made:
- S: 3.7mm f/2.5 Fujinon MP Fisheye (11.5mm or larger image circle, based on their 2.7mm)
- S: 13 to 14mm f/2.0 or faster AF wide angle pancake lens w/good center sharpness wide open.
- S: 18mm f/2.0 AF pancake lens, but with better edge sharpness than current model.
- S: 23mm f/1.7 to f/2 AF pancake lens with good center sharpness wide open.
- S: 27mm f/1.7 AF pancake lens, similar in concept to the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 for MFT.
- 28mm f/2.0 Voigtlander Ultron II (existing, to use instead of heavy 7Artisans 28mm f/1.4)
- 33mm f/1.4 Fujinon WR (existing, but I wish the outer diameter and filter size were smaller)
- 40mm f/1.2 Voigtlander Nokton in LM mount (to see if it is much better than the 40mm f/1.4)
- S: 40 to 42mm f/1.2 or f/1.4 Fujinon AF lens, in same or smaller size as Fujinon 33mm f/1.4.
- S: In general, a series of smaller f/1.7 or faster lenses, preferably under 64mm outer diameter.
- 50mm f/0.95 SLR Magic, in Leica M Mount (to see if its mid field is better than Summilux)
- 75mm f/1.2 Viltrox AF lens (though its 88 cm minimum focus distance is not too good)
- S: Compact 220 to 240mm f/4.8 to f/5.6 APO lens (sharp wide open, but smaller than a zoom)
- S: Version of 100-400mm zoom in which the zoom lock works at multiple focal lengths.
- S: Also in 100-400mm, a switch to lock out focus hunting if zoom touched when camera in MF.
- S: Compact collapsible 450 to 500mm f/8 to f/9.5 lens. (Maybe similar to Canon 600mm f/11?)
- S: Of the above, the 13-14mm pancake and fast 40-42mm AF lenses would be more important.
- S: Cameras: Compact Fujifilm X camera with a tilting EVF like that on the Panasonic GX7.
- S: Cameras: With stepless ISO or shutter speed in AE, so video brightness does not step.
- Camera: Leica M11 (but this isn't likely since I'm now on a fixed income)

Comments about suggested (S) lenses, etc.: In general, the lenses suggested above are compact. The 64mm maximum outside diameter is suggested because this is compatible with using the lenses on a large tripod head with X-T10, 20, and 30 cameras. Also, since Fujifim X is APS format, there is a diminishing return on the smaller format if the equipment is not significantly SMALLER than full frame cameras and lenses. Given the relatively large size of many Fujifilm X lenses: If Sony later introduces an A7 series camera that has a shutter speed dial, it would be tempting to switch to the full frame format for applications including video.

Gitzo Tripods (the older aluminum ones):
Aluminum Gitzo tripods have been used in every eclipse setup since 1991, and for many other things. These are used partly because, compared to the capacity of what they can support, they fold down to a relatively small size. I have emphasized the non-performance models for eclipses, because they are lighter, and there is no need to spread the tripod legs beyond the normal angle.

LeapLumin Ball Head and Metal Phone and Tablet Holders, etc.
Details TBD.

Leica Telyt-R 250mm f/4 Lenses (Versions 1 and 2):
Details TBD.

Nikon ED Nikkor and Reflex-Nikkor Lenses in 180mm to 1,000mm FL Range:
- Emphasis will be on the 300mm f/4, 300mm f/4.5, and 400mm f/5.6 ED Nikkor lenses, and will point out that the central image in these usually is not diffraction limited until they are stopped down about one f-stop. Other details are TBD.
- The Reflex Nikkor lenses covered will be the 500mm f/5 (which is a LOT more manageable than the Sigma 500mm f/4 mirror lens), the 500mm f/8, and the 1,000mm f/11.
- Also covered will be that the mirror lenses should be inspected for fungus if acquired used. In the case of the rear surface (mangin) mirror of the 500mm f/5, a fungus-like pattern can sometimes be in the mirror coating itself (usually visible only if shining a light directly into the lens), which is unusual because the rear surface mirror coating is sandwiched between the glass and black paint. My 500mm f/5 has this issue (and it was disclosed by the eBay seller), but the pattern is hard to see when looking through the lens from the rear, and the images don't appear to be affected by it.

Nikon 10 x 25 Travelite III Binoculars
Before the 1995 total solar eclipse, I purchased a pair of Nikon 10x25 Travellite III binoculars.
- At the time, I was considering the 9 x 25 and the 10 x 25 models, since the 9x25 had slightly more eye relief. I was also considering compact binoculars by Leica and Zeiss. I ended up getting the Nikon 10x25, because they were faster to deploy and use (compared to the other brands), and because I wanted a little more reach than the 9x25, but would be happy with either magnification.
- Travelite III binoculars use porro prisms rather than roof prisms, so their images don't have the diffraction spikes common to some roof prism binoculars.
- These compact and lightweight binoculars are part of what made it possible to get my entire 1995 eclipse setup into two carry on bags. (At that time, my other binoculars were the larger and heavier B&L 10x50's, into which I had swapped some BAK-4 prisms to improve performance. After the prism swap, the B&L binoculars could support magnifications up to 40x with a home made telescope converter attachment that attached to one of the eyepieces. The back end of this attachment is the compact diagonal on the Rokinon 300mm mirror lens in the 2024 eclipse setup.)
- As of when this is written, I have had the 10x25 binoculars for 29 years, and they still work well. They are still the binoculars I use most. I only use larger binoculars (such as Vortex 12x50) when more light grasp is needed.

Questar Duplex 3.5 (89mm f/16 Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope):
The Questar Duplex 3.5 is a compact Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope that can easily be removed from its compact (7 inch diameter) motor base. In the late 1980's, I liked Questar telescopes so much that I became a dealer for a few years. I had to sell my Questar during financially hard times in the late 1990's, but was able to get another one in 2013.
- For me, the main attraction of the Questar 3.5 is that it combines good optics with a compact sidereal drive that has smooth manual slow motion controls.
- The Questar also has a control box on the back that includes a flip mirror (actually a prism), a 1.5x visual Barlow lens, and a finder scope objective. However, the visual telescope images are not parfocal with the photographic focal plane, so refocusing is required when switching.
- There was a time when Questar optics were unmatched, but I have seen a few samples of Meade ETX 90 and 105 telescopes that provided almost equally good images. However, the ETX mounts seem clunky (at least to me) by comparison.
- The downsides of the Questar are that the camera coupling uses a proprietary thread to attach to the telescope, and the back of the camera coupling is P-thread instead of T2 thread. The optional piggyback camera mount is also large and takes a long time to set up. And while the smooth slow motions are nice for visual use, the declination control is too coarse for astrophotography.
- Questar makes a declination gearbox that attaches to the mount, but the telescope won't fit in its case with it installed.
- (Decades ago, my company Versacorp used to make a small tangent arm declination control that could be left on the mount all the time, even while the declination slow motion knob was used in the usual way, and when the telescope was in its case. Versacorp also used to offer a compact piggyback mount for the Questar 3.5, plus a low profile off-axis guider, a 0.6x telecompressor, and a parfocal adapter for the eyepiece holder. It further offered a declination range extender that extended the photographic declination range of the Duplex Questar to +71 through -49 degrees.)
- The last downside of the Questar 3.5 is more applicable to current times. Questar used to make a PowerGuide II that was built into the motor base and ran on an internal 9 Volt battery. It also included a hand control for guiding long exposure astrophotos, but it was not necessary to plug in the hand control to just run the sidereal drive. Up until a few years ago, Questar would retrofit the PowerGuide II into an existing Questar for a few hundred dollars.
-- But unfortunately, all they offer now is the PowerGuide III, which has a touch screen instead of tactile buttons for guiding. Anyone who has manually guided astrophotos, or wanted to move the telescope while observing, knows that looking at a screen will wipe out dark adaptation and take a person's eye off of a guide star.
-- I am not positive on this, but I think the touch screen hand control for the PowerGuide III has to be plugged in before the drive will run at all. (If you have one, please me know if this is correct.)
-- Questar said the PowerGuide III is GoTo enabled (for telescopes fitted with compatible motors and encoders), but for people who don't care for GoTo, the old PowerGuide II was a better option.
- Because the PowerGuide III is all that is available, my Questar still has the original 120 Volt clock motor, and running a power cord to a small telescope (or using a heavy battery with an inverter or drive corrector) in 2020's seems a little ancient.
- Because of this, I've recently tended to use the Borg 76ED or TeleVue 60 more than the Questar, since these can be used on small mounts (Takahashi Teegul, etc.) that run on batteries. (This is mainly because I am disabled.) Also, if it is worth the bother to run a power cord out into the yard, it is also worth the bother to set up a larger C5 or C8 telescope, at least on days when I am capable of lifting them.
- Due to this limitation, the main use of my Questar in recent years has been for rocket launches or solar transits of the ISS. I'd use it a lot more if it had a PowerGuide II in its motor base.

Samyang/Rokinon Fisheye Lenses (7.5mm MFT, 8mm APS, 12mm Full Frame):
This section will briefly cover four of the Samyang/Rokinon fisheye lenses:
- 7.5mm f/3.5 lens for Micro 4/3 digital cameras.
- 8mm f/3.5 lens for APS format digital SLR camwras (their first popular fisheye).
- 8mm f/2.8 lens for APS format digital mirrorless cameras.
- 12mm f/2.8 lens for full frame SLR cameras.
- All of these lenses except the 7.5mm f/3.5 MFT lens have what Samyang calls "Stereographic" projection, in which the radial image scale increases with the off-axis angle. Specifically, the off-axis radial image scale (when compared to image scale at the center of the image), is theoretically be described as: s=1/[cos(radiusTheta/2)]^2 where s is the image scale relative to the image center, and Theta is the off-axis angle. This has the effect of increasing the image scale according to the off-axis angle, to the extent that the image scale is doubled at 90 degrees off-axis. With this projection, proportions of small objects in the field of view are preserved, so a sphere will be imaged almost like a perfect circle in the picture, no matter where it is in the image. In practice, the Samyang lenses only increase the off-axis image scale by about 85 percent as much as the above equation would indicate. The result is less distortion of subject proportions than is the case with conventional fisheye lenses.
- All of the lenses except the 8mm f/3.5 cover out to 180 degrees with good illumination, while the 8mm f/3.5 image suddenly dims considerably at around 177 to 178 degrees, and the image is quite dark by 179 to 180 degrees. In practice, the diagonal coverage of each lens will be slightly less than 180 degrees, because the image circle is slightly larger than the diagonal dimensions of the respective sensor (or film) formats.
- The 8mm f/3.5 lens was the first one to be introduced. My 2009 in depth review of this lens (which was the first lens review I ever published), is titled "Review of Samyang 8 mm f/3.5 Proportional Projection Ultra-wide Angle Lens.". It is published at:
http://www.versacorp.com/vlink/jcreview/sy8rv9jc.pdf
Remainder of details about the Samyang/Rokinon fisheye lenses are TBD.

Starizona EVO-FF V2 Field Flattener (used on a TeleVue 60 telescope):
Some details are covered in the chapter about my 2024 eclipse setup, specifically the parts about the "Corona Still Image... Assembly" and the TeleVue 60 scope.
- Before I got the EVO-FF Flattener, I was going to sell the TeleVue 60 due to its field curvature. But availability of the flattener made it a keeper for both a grab and go scope and an eclipse scope.
- A sample photo of the moon at the edge of the APS format when the flattener is used (with the telescope being focused while the moon was centered) is included in this web page.
- I came up with a way to use the EvoFF visually on the TV60 (without needing any custom made parts). However, this is only for straight through viewing, because there isn't enough back focus to use it behind a diagonal. (A small custom diagonal with EvoFF optics built in might work though.)
- I have not star tested the EVO-FF in terms of wide field images, but I did check the central image sharpness. At f/6, the EVO-FF only enlarges the Airy Disk about 1.5 times, which has no effect on wide field imaging or a low to medium magnification view.
- I am considering a second EVO-FF for visual use. For this, it would be disassembled so its optics can be paired with a diagonal or a low magnification eyepiece.

Takahshi HI-OR Eyepieces (2.8mm and 4mm in 0.965" Barrels):
Details TBD. But in general, these have more eye relief than a conventional Orthoscopic eyepiece of similar focal length, and they have a little more contrast than that of TeleVue Type 6 Nagler eyepieces. And they are also comparatively small and light.

Tamron SP Adaptall 2 500mm f/8 Mirror Lens:
The 500mm f/8 Tamron SP Adaptall 2 is a mirror lens of a slightly different design than most. It tends to have sharper and higher contrast images than any other 500mm mirror lens I have tested except for the 500mm f/8 Reflex-Nikkor, which produces similar images.
- The Tamron (as well as the Nikkor) has a considerably larger front aperture than the 62.5mm that would be typical of a 500mm f/8 lens. Instead, the front aperture is about 78mm, and the filter size is 82mm. Part of the larger aperture helps compensate for the light blocked by the central obstruction, to bring the light transmission (T) value closer to f/8.
- Additionally, the entire enlarged front aperture is not utilized for the central image. Internal baffles exclude the outer few millimeters from the central image, and the outer part is used to increase illumination of off-axis parts of the image, to reduce vignetting.
- It is important not to subject the Tamron 500mm lens to much mechanical shock, because optical components that are cemented to the front corrector lens can partially separate from it, and this degrades the image. If one is looking to buy a used one, the lens can be inspected for this by looking through the back end, and seeing if the aperture area looks evenly illuminated. The state of the optical components near the secondary mirror can also be inspected by looking into the front of the lens at a slight angle and inspecting their reflection in the primary mirror.

TeleVue Type 6 Nagler Eyepieces (2.5mm to 13mm):
The Type 6 Nagler eyepieces are made in focal lengths of 2.5, 3.5, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13mm. All of them have a similar amount of eye relief, which is useful when switching between focal lengths.
- I have always wished they would make a 1.8mm to 2.0mm Type 6, because it would provide a little more magnification with moderate to fast f/ratio telescopes.
- Type 6 Nagler eyepieces can also be used to at least partially correct atmospheric dispersion, by placing the image of a planet slightly off center in the appropriate direction.
- Eyepieces that cost more than some of my first telescopes or mounts took some getting used to, but the impact of that was reduced by buying used eyepieces.
- In addition to the Type 6 Nagler eyepieces, I also use the 4.8mm and 7mm Type 1 Naglers. These have less eye relief, but (unlike their larger 9-13mm Type 1 cousins) they are smaller and lighter.

Threaded Glass Solar Filters (Seymour Solar and Thousand Oaks):
In my experience, glass solar filters have always provided better images than solar filters with flexible substrates. This is mainly because glass solar filters tend to scatter less light, which in turn provides a higher contrast solar image and less flare. The reduced flare used to be very important for eclipse sequence images, when all of the images are captured on a single piece of film. However, it is less of an issue for sequence images captured with digital cameras.
- The only weak point of glass solar filters is that they can produce a ghost image when used with digital cameras. This is caused by light reflecting between the camera sensor cover glass and the filter. However, this can be overcome by slightly tilting the solar filter, so the ghost image will not overlap the main image. Tilting a threaded filter is more difficult, but it is possible if the filter is temporarily removed from the cell so wedge shaped rings can be added to tilt the filter in the cell.
- I prefer threaded glass solar filters for most applications. This is partly because they are more compact than slip-on filters. They also attach more securely than slip-on solar filters. Among other things, this is useful for public viewing events, since a user is not likely to inadvertently or suddenly remove a solar filter that attaches via a threaded cell.
- The only area where threaded filters can slow things down is a total solar eclipse, since it takes longer to remove them. But removal time can be reduced by only partially screwing the filters in. However, replacing the filters after totality is still slower than would be the case for slip-on filters.
- Seymour Solar's threaded solar filters have somewhat less clear aperture than what would be expected from the metal filter cell alone. This is because a plastic ring is attached to the outer several millimeters of the filter. This ring prevents chipping during manufacture (when the edge is ground to the precise size), and it also reduces stress on the rear edge of the mounted filter.
- Thousand Oaks' threaded solar filers use relatively conventional photographic filter cells, and they do not have the plastic ring at the edge. Thousand Oaks said they were in the process of phasing out threaded glass solar filters when I bought mine in 2017.
- Optically, glass filters from both brands seemed to work equally well. - What I would like to see is a custom cell design for threaded glass solar filters. If a cell is made with at least a 2mm wide land for the edge of the filter to seat against, it would lower stress without the need for a plastic outer ring. More importantly, it would provide enough width to allow for a stress relief chamfer on the filter substrate, as well as accommodating slight inaccuracies in the filter glass diameter. A slight chamfer on the inner edge of the land would mask areas of the filter that might otherwise develop pinholes from contact with the inner edge of the mating surface on the land. I made such a cell for my first threaded solar filter several decades ago. Such a cell would reduce the filter aperture by a couple of millimeters (compared to a photo filter cell), but this would be less reduction in aperture than that of an attached plastic ring.
- Another thing I would like to see is for more solar filters to provide the same solar image color that Celestron glass solar filters of the 1980's used to produce. These provided an off-white solar image that was only slightly orange-yellow, rather than the more saturated orange color of most modern solar filters, or the moderately saturated yellow color from vintage Questar solar filters.

Vernonscope Brandon Eyepieces (6, 8, 12, 16, 24, 32, 48mm):
My first introduction to Brandon eyepieces was when I had my first Questar 3.5 back in the 1980's. Since that Questar was made in 1981, the 16mm eyepiece was a Brandon, but the 24mm was not. The image in the 16mm was particularly contrasty. I then bought the 8mm and 12mm Brandon eyepieces for the Questar.
- At first, I thought the Questar telescope was the only reason why the image was so contrasty. But I later tried the 8, 12, and 16mm Brandon eyepieces on my C8, and images looked better in it too.
- Since then, I have used Brandon eyepieces whenever I want a little extra contrast in views of planets or deep sky objects. Views through the 48mm Brandon have been amazing when it is paired with an f/8 or slower refractor. I have never had the 6mm.
- The only reason I don't use Brandon eyepieces all the time for everything is because their apparent field is only about 45 degrees, and the shortest focal length is 6mm. Sometimes it is nice to have the 82 degree field of a Nagler eyepiece.

Versacorp DiaGuider (TM) and VersaScope (TM) Adapter (tooting my own horn here!):
Details TBD. (Some details are in my 1995 Eclipse photo web page.)

Versacorp VersAgonal Series 2 Multi-Function Flip Mirror (tooting my own horn again!):
The VersAgonal (TM) Series 2 was the first major product that my company, Versacorp, introduced, way back in 1984. It was called "Series 2" because it had a 2 inch eyepiece holder.
- Unfortunately, the VersAgonal (for "Versatile Diagonal") has not been available since the early 1990's, but how it came about (and why I still use one) is covered below.
- The VersAgonal began as an amateur project, to make a 2 inch multiple function flip mirror that had almost all of the accessories I wanted built right in. I lived in a cold climate when I invented it, and I wanted a lot built in so I would not have to swap cold accessories while my hands were cold.
- The 1983 prototype had a built-in photo-visual Barlow lens that could be flipped in to use for visual observation or photography. Also built in was an adjustable flip-in off-axis guider (in which the prism could be both tilted and moved radially), and a manual shutter. At the back was a rotating camera coupling for an OTI Quantum 6 telescope. When a camera was on the back, most eyepieces in the top could be parfocalized with it, so refocusing was not required when switching back and forth. The prototype also included a flip-in beamsplitter.
- In the prototype, a flip-in photo-visual focal reducer could theoretically be substituted for the guider, but swapping them required more disassembly than what was practical to do in the field.
- Both ends of the VersAgonal had standard T2 threads. The front end accepted standard adapters for 1.25 and 2 inch focusers or Celestron SCT thread, etc., telescopes. The back accepted the afore mentioned Quantum 6 camera adapter and other accessories.
- The 1.25 inch to 2 inch eyepiece adapter (the VersAdapter (TM)) had male T2 threads at one end and female T2 at the other. It was used to attach 1.25 inch eyepieces or a second camera on the top of the VersAgonal, and it could be stacked with the camera adapter on the back for "straight through" viewing, or for eyepiece projection photography. (Variations of the VersAdapter are some of the few items that I can still have made by special order (in quantity) these days.)
- The 1984 production version of the VersAgonal was introduced partly because people who saw my prototype wanted someting like it, and partly to ammortize the tooling required to make a better version of the VersAgonal for my own use. The 1984 production version included the photo-visual focal reducer instead of the guider, and an included radially adjustable off-axis guider prism was inserted into the eyepiece holder for use. Otherwise, the differences were mostly cosmetic.
- Variations and options included a rear flip-in Barlow instead of the focal reducer (mainly for refractors), a built-in beamsplitter, a built-in eyepiece projection lens, a 40mm finder scope that provided a finder image at the eypiece (similar to the Questar finder), and a filter drawer. When the same VersAgonal had both the built-in finder scope and the flip-in beamsplitter, it was possible to easily overlay the finder image with the main telescope image in the eyepiece. (If the manual shutter was flipped into the rear position, the images would be overlaid in the eyepiece.)
- Even though the VersAgonal was expensive (introduced at $695, then priced at $995 through the rest of the 1980's, and then $1,495 in the 1990's, the accessories it replaced did not cost much less throughout most of the 1980's, and the VersAgonal offered the convenience of a flip mirror.
- A flip mirror that could be attached to a telescope like any other accessory was rare in the mid 1980's, and those that existed tended to require a lot of extra back focus distance. The VersAgonal only required about 2 inches more back focus than a standard star diagonal or off-axis guider.
- For the 1991 and 1994 total solar eclipses, I used the VersAgonal because it let me switch between visual observing and photography without refocusing.
- In 1994, The VersAgonal also made it possible to image the eclipse at two focal lengths (640mm prime focus of a Vernonscope 94mn refractor, and 1,000mm) without even removng the camera, by using the rear flip-in Barlow lens in its photographic position for the longer focal length.
- Health is the main reason the VersAgonal is not available any more. I still have about eight sets of 80 percent of the parts, but can't make the rest. I'd like to have a second one, so I would not have to take mine apart to swap the second built-in Barlow for the focal reducer when switching between refractors and SCT's, but making the parts, etc., has been beyond me for two decades.
- Also, since it was an unusual low volume item, a lot of tweaking was needed during assembly.
-- More importantly, if a product with similar features was introduced today, it would be better if it had a completely different design. The VersAgonal was designed to be lightweight, and to have a compact form factor similar to that of a conventional 2 inch diagonal. One of the main reasons for this was so the eyepiece position could be rotated around the back of the telescope in the same way it could with a conventional diagonal. The compact form factor by necessity required that the built-in optics move in different directions, and that the optics move through a common space. This required stop mechanisms to preclude flipping in one optic while another was in the way, and the strength of some stops could be overcome if people really forced the controls. That was fine in the 1980's (when more people read and followed instructions), but it is not so much for today.
-- If a product with as many features was introduced today, one of the best designs would be for the optics to be in a series of wheels that rotate about axes that are parallel with the light path. One or more wheels would have focal length modifying optics, another would have filters, and another would have the flip mirror, possibly with a beamsplitter and off-axis guiding reflector sharing the same wheel. This prevents optic cell "collisions" without the need for stops, and the wheels can have encoders and be motorized with unidirectional (rather than bidirectional) motors. (Many motorized astro camera filter wheels have used this concept for decades. It is just a matter if extending it to other optics.) The result is not even close to being as compact as a VersAgonal, but it would be robust and more compatible with computer control. It would also be easier to swap out optics in an optic wheel. I designed one of these in the 1980's that even had a built-in finder objective, but never introduced it, partly due to its large size.

Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic lens (Leica M Mount):
The Cosina-Voigtlander (CV or VC) 40mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic lens is a compact Leica M mount lens. It is not quite in the same league as some Leica brand M lenses of similar focal length (35mm or 40mm), but costs a lot less and it isn't bad for everyday photos.
- The Nokton is very compact, being only 55mm in diameter (not counting the focus tab) and 30mm long, as measured from the front of a Leica M camera. (A Leica M to Fuji X adapter adds 10mm to the length.)
- The filter size is 43mm, and the minimum focus distance is a relatively distant 0.7 meters. The f/stop range is f/1.4 to f/16, in half stop clicks. The iris consists of 10 straight aperture blades.
- Wide open at f/1.4, the Nokton produces acceptably sharp central images for "snapshots" that are not printed very large. For other applications, it produces acceptable central images at f/1.7. It is really sharp in the center at f/2.4 to f/2.8, and edges sharpen up at f/3.4 to f/4. (So f/3.4 or slower is advisable for astrophotos.) In extreme cases, color fringing can be detected until f/5.6.
- Focus is reliable on Leica M cameras it has been tested on, especially at f/1.7 or slower. The manual focus is smooth, though it has less focus damping than most Leica M lenses do.
- On a crop sensor camera (one without a strong AA filter), the 40mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic can provide good images over most of the field between f/2.4 and f/3.4.
- The only other issues with the Nokton are field curvature and susceptibility to veiling flare unless its front element is shielded from bright light. (I also am not a fan of straight aperture blades.) However, the field curvature is not too bad until about 14mm image height (i.e. 14mm from the image center), so it is a non-issue for crop sensor cameras. Flare is more of an issue for a rangefinder than for an SLR or mirrorless digital camera because you can't see the image in a rangefinder camera and tell if flare is present.
- Background bokeh is harsh wide open (bright edges on out of focus highlights) but it gets better by about f/2.4. The Nokton vignettes heavily at f/1.4, probably in part due to lack of an oversized rear element. The vignetting also effects bokeh. On full frame, out of focus blur areas near the edge have an eye shape (rather than being circular) until the lens is stopped down almost three f/stops. However, the bokeh from specular highlights is round by f/2.4 in crop sensor cameras.
- In spite of the above shortcomings, the 40mm f/1.4 Nokton is useful on some Micro 4/3 and APS cameras because it is high speed and compact. Its price is also reasonable (US $400 new and 300 used in 2024). For these reasons, it was the only fast-f/ratio lens I used regularly for several years.
- More details, as well as crops from sample images, are in my "Leica M9 (and M Lens) Reviews, Tests and Comparisons" web page, at: http://www.versacorp.com/vlink/jcreview/leicam9r.htm

ZWO Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector (ADC):
I bought a ZWO atmospheric dispersion corrector when Jupiter and Saturn were at low declination angles several years ago. It made a stunning difference, both visually and for imaging planets. Visually, more of a difference than what eyepiece I used. Sometimes, it even made more difference than what telescope I was using, if in the same general aperture range. I have found that it is worth using even when planets are at elevation angles as high as 45 degrees.

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2023, 2024 Jeffrey R. Charles. All Rights Reserved.

jcharles *at* eclipsechaser dot com

Document (2024 eclipse page, unpublished) created: xx xxxx, 2024 and onward.
(Some parts created as place holders before eclipse.)
Document draft completed: 23 Mar. 2024 (unpublished).
First uploaded and linked to EclipseChaser.com: 27 Mar. 2024
Last modified: 11 May, 23 May, 16 June, __ July, 2024.
Most recent changes: Added images of (huge) prominences of 9-10 May, 2024. (Appendix F)
Added details about some items I use for eclipses and other astronomy (Appendix G)
Added Falcon 9 rocket launch photos (Appendix H)
Other revisions: 06, 09, 16, 21, 27 Apr; 05, 11 May; 16 June 2024.