Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

Photodigital interpretation of the Chota Monument. Purple, burgundy, ocre, and green colors dominate, often blending into each other, particularly in a sky with purple and green-rimmed clouds. On the ground, eight round pillars in mostly bright ocre tones are arranged in a circle. They resemble tall tree stumps that have been cut at an angle slanted toward the viewer. These oval surfaces seem to depict a variety of abstract, irregularly shaped patterns.Chota Monument – PhotodDgital transformation © 1998 Mignon Naegeli

Prediction for Knoxville, August 21, 2017:

🌑 moon to cover 99.9% of the sun.
The moon will be in the sun’s path for 2 hours 53 minutes, starting at 1:04 PM.
The best time to see the peak of the eclipse will be 2:34 PM EDT.

The Female opted to stay home with us to view the eclipse. She hates to get stuck in traffic; which was predicted by the local authorities. Standing unprotected in 92 degrees isn’t her favorite pastime. Deep down I knew of course, that she wanted to be with us, just in case we’d freak out or get scared by unexpected darkness.

The Wolfman went with a neighbor and his aunt and her family to the Chota Monument. Would have been my Female’s favorite place, had she wanted to see the total eclipse.

Apart from the heat, it turned out, she was totally wrong.

No natives visited Tanasi.
There was no Cherokee pow-wow of any sort.
No chanting and dancing.
A few people had camped in the area over night. A few more trickled in as the eclipse approached.

Click image to view the video

Don Bickers had a drone, which he stationed high above the site to capture a bird’s eye view of the approaching and departing lunar shadow, including the amazing 360 degree sunset. How quick darkness set in during the final seconds before totality! And how the bright cloud in the distant southeast got dark as sunlight returned here.

No Cherokee clan visited the loction many of their ancestors called home.

Decades ago, when my Humans discovered the site in the Tellico Reservoir of the Little Tennessee River they still lived in Oak Ridge.

Color photograph of the Paint Clan pillar of the Chota Memorial. The flat top surface of the round concrete pillar is slanted forward and contains an embedded, more polished oval stone slate with a black line drawing of a small paint pan with a handle and below it, an artist's paint brush and the engraved words PAINT CLAN. A woman is leaning against the front of the pillar and bent forward to embrace a Bernese mountain dog's head with her right forearm and with her left hand the head of a short-haired white mixed-breed dog with black head, white and gray muzzle pattern, and a black patch on his left side.The Female, my brother, and I at Chota – Photograph © 2007 Wolf Naegeli

My predecessors—all Bernese mountain dogs—also loved the frequent excursions to this remote and barely visited place. Sometimes, they met a lonely Cherokee native who would tell them stories about the old days, while he lit a ceremonial fire among the pillars.

Trees have grown, providing ample shade now, and a light breeze was swaying over the peninsula, my Wolfman tells us; absolutely the perfect place to celebrate the solar eclipse.

The Female always wondered why she never heard of Cherokee clans using the memorial for tribal celebrations.

Had TVA failed to consult the tribe when designing the pillars? Was the crude concrete offensive? It was noticeable to my Female. She did like the setting of the pillars above the site of the former town of Chota, capital of the Overhill Cherokees. Yet the pillars looked like simple large molds with cheap filler — not really sculptures emanating the aura of the ancestors of the land that white people now possess, building gated communities and roaming the quiet lakes with fancy boats and jet skies.

The Wolfman says, the pillars have been painted brown and look more polished now. The Female shudders, but she is willing to withhold judgement until temperatures are bearable enough for her to walk out to the tip of the peninsula and form her own perspicuous impression.

Many years ago—long before my time—my Female used one of the first computer art applications to create a photodigital interpretation of the Chota Monument from one of her original infrared photographs. The mysterious print on watercolor paper is still hanging in our home. She also printed a few cards of it at the same time. When she exhibited in local galleries, she might sell work of cute cats or cows — the monument cards never found a buyer.

Recently she mailed some of them as thank you notes. One to Dr. Monahan, our esteemed DO, who thanked my humans enthusiastically when they went to see her last, before she moves with her family to Florida to do hospital work. She will be greatly missed.

Now I quote my Female :

Not that I regret to have stayed home along with our animals. My experience was different, more clear perhaps, more an observation than an observance. I didn’t have the elaborate equipment, nor the knowledge to take a picture as featured in the electronic Swiss paper.

Interestingly, just one week earlier, we had passed very close by the spot where Timothy Easley took this fabulous shot, when we were driving toward Nashville, having spent our trip’s last night in this old and tired campground near the Land Between the Lakes. The photographer chose well; perfect location without too many screaming distractions.

1:25 PM
My first view with the cardboard shades Donna gave me yesterday shows that the Moon is approximately 1/5 into the sun. No perceptible darkness.


2:00 PM
It is getting darker, barely noticeable except in the house.


2:07 PM
Verushka is staring out of the window, observing what is happening outside. Something I obviously missed.


2:09 PM
The sun is now like a crescent moon, the temperature dropped about 2 degrees. The sky is clear of clouds, it somewhat resembles full sunshine, but it feels insipid, as if someone had turned down a big dimmer switch.

Color photograph of an area of short grass and herbs shows the shadow upward of the upper torso of a person holding something up to their head at eye level, arms spread wide.Photograph © 2017 Mignon Naegeli


2:19 PM
I’m going outside with my iPhone and the cardboard glasses and try to redo some of the pictures I took earlier with the iPad. Change in shadows is very noticeable.

Color photograph of a house with a red metal roof on which an array of solar panels is mounted. The picture is quite dark as it was taken with normal settings when the moon covered about 99 percent of the sun, which was near the peak of the eclipse at this location. Thus, it provides a rendition of how little light remained.Little light remains for solar panels – Photograph © 2017 Mignon Naegeli


2:40 PM
The darkest period lasted just a few seconds. At first, the butterflies left the flowers, flying on an uncertain path, aiming higher, towards the shady trees. The solar cells on the house looked lifeless, but the sky never turned totally dark.


A few birds were still at the feeder moments before dawn. Then suddenly there was no animal sound — some excited shrill voices down in the neighborhood. It never was really dark, no way the predicted 99 percent. I could see the crescent getting tiny but the perfect pictures, I had to watch on TV, were taken by a stranger in the boonies of Kentucky.


Those shots reminded me of a hype Hollywood movie scene. I even question the stills, computer animations, or manipulated designs. The local stations had teams in the Smokies, a park in West Knoxville, on different locations in the direct path of the eclipse. Some seemingly bored female anchors with their aging counterparts tried the best to entertain “stay at home viewers,” about to run outside to check out the situation or to soon switch channels for a better view.


Not ever an eery feeling! Witnessing a total solar eclipse no longer means facing hungry wolves, angry bears, or restless spirits from the netherworld.

Color photograph of an infant sitting on a gray asphalt surface, surrounded by lenticular shadows from the currently still partial solar eclipse. The shadows are created by the leaves of a tree overhead (not visible in the picture). The shapes of the leaves, however, are distorted because hundreds of tiny gaps between leaves that let sun rays pass through act like pin holes of a camera obscura and project images of the sun sickle on the ground. The shade pattern created looks more like gray, irregularly overlapping stacked shingles than customary leaf shadows.Photograph © 2017 Isabella Pfeiffer

A friend who also stayed home with her young child later showed me
pictures she took. Yes, she did capture what we were told would be happening, strange shadows, her beautiful child playing—maybe not realizing the moment—but happy to be with her mother, to be outside, enjoying the cool down, and hearing the cicadas that felt it was dark enough for their nighttime activities and therefore woke up for a few moments.


I, as a matter of fact, didn’t see any strange shadows of hundreds of eclipses, heard no animals howling, not even a cicada. Just a very peaceful moment it was.


As soon as I returned into the pretty dark house, bitten by a few hungry mosquitos that had profited most from the feeding-time supplement, I noticed the silhouettes of our dogs huddled together on the kitchen floor. — And then — a small bird approached the feeder, like a few do every morning, almost before dawn. The cat tried to chase the birds on the other side of the window, like she always does. Quickly, it got lighter and our animals took their usual places next to me.    —M

Morning has broken … 2:45 PM, and we listen together to a mourning dove, singing her doleful song.


Reference Chapman, Jefferson (2016) Tellico Archaeology: 12, 000 Years Native American History (3rd edition paperback), University of Tennessee Press


P.S. The Wolfman used his iPhone to monitor the impact of the eclipse on solar energy production.

Diagram of the power output in Kilowatts over the course of a day. The graphic shows the difference between the day before the solar eclipse and the day of the eclipse for a specific system in Knox County, Tennessee.
Solar energy system installed by ARIES Solar – © 2017 Mignon & Wolf Naegeli

This graph shows how the eclipse reduced the power production of our solar cells. Typically, peak output in August is about 6,500 Watt and occurs around 2 PM because our house is oriented a bit more westward than exact South.

The light-green background gives you a good idea of the shape of our power curve under clear-sky conditions. Sunday, August 20, was a nearly perfect solar day. We had a brief period of slight cloudiness between 1:15 and 2 PM, which caused a minor reduction in output and therefore a small indentation only on the graph.

Superimposed in darker green, are the data for the 21st. More clouds than the day before shaded the panels between noon and 1 PM. A smaller patch occurred around 1:15 PM, but soon after that the eclipse (1–4 PM) became the main reason for the decline in output, reaching a low of 200 Watt at 2:34 before recovering quite quickly

Click picture to view the time-lapse video

SolarEdge, the company that supplied the electronics to put our photovoltaic panels on the power grid made it easy to monitor the national impact. Their sophisticated web portal analyzed our energy output and that of almost 300,000 other systems that use SolarEdge technology. Minute by minute production was compared with the average daily output at this time of the year. The difference was continuously color-coded on a map to visualize how the waning and waxing of solar electricity production was moving across the continent in tandem with the eclipse.

Despite dire predictions of large-scale power outages, not to mention apocalyptic prophesies from the lunatic fringe which always awakes for a feeding frenzy before lunar and solar clipses, no noteworthy power-supply problems were precipitated anywhere in the U.S.A.




Here’s how Mabel Loomis Todd, author of Total Eclipses of the Sun, described what she witnessed in 1894:

Then, with frightful velocity, the actual shadow of the moon is often seen approaching, a tangible darkness advancing almost like a wall, swift as imagination, silent as doom. The immensity of nature never comes quite so near as then, and strong must be the nerves not to quiver as this blue-black shadow rushes upon the spectator with incredible speed. A vast, palpable presence seems to overwhelm the world. The blue sky changes to gray or dull purple, speedily becoming more dusky, and a death-like trance seizes upon everything earthly…


Then out upon the darkness, gruesome but sublime, flashes the glory of the incomparable corona, a silvery, soft, unearthly light, with radiant streamers, stretching at times millions of uncomprehended miles into space, while the rosy, flame-like prominences skirt the black rim of the moon in ethereal splendor. It becomes curiously cold, dew frequently forms, and the chill is perhaps mental as well as physical.

The earliest recorded total solar eclipse in human history can be attributed to the Chinese astrologers Hsi and Ho, who documented one on Oct. 22, 2134 B.C., according to NASA. But the Babylonians hold the record for the earliest successful prediction of a total solar eclipse: May 3, 1375 B.C.

The Vikings blamed eclipses on ravenous wolves eagerly chasing, and sometimes catching, the sun and moon as they raced across the sky. The Pomo tribe of the American northwest has a legend about the sun tussling with a bear. And the Serrano tribe in Southern California speculated the sun and moon were being consumed by the angry spirits of the dead.

Huffpost, August 20, 2017

Ancient of Days, 1794 by William Blake

Black and white illustration of wolves chasing the sun and the moon, each getting carried through the sky on a horse-drawn chariot.The Wolves Pursuing Sol and Mani, 1909 by John Charles Dollman
Abstract painting in black, yellow and whiteEclipse of the Sun II, 1975 by Roy Lichtenstein at Princeton University Art Museum © Estate of Roy Liechtenstein

Click image to view Black Star, 206 by David Bowie

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