The following account of the Total Solar Eclipse of 20 June 1974 from Cape Leeuwin, South West Australia is a verbatim transcription from my observing notebook.  In places it is terse, but this was written in situ, and in real-time during the eclipse - which we did indeed see.

"Which Way Did the Shadow Bands Go?"
and
"The Dog, the Sea Gulls, and the Jackass"



 

OBSERVING NOTEBOOK SUPPLEMENT
TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE
JUNE 20, 1974
CAPE LEEUWIN, SWA

All times local except when noted.

JUNE 20

8:00 - Weather looks disgusting.  I called Bureau of Meteorology in Perth ($3.10 Australian). 20 minute call.  There appears to be a line of stratus clouds from the zenith (Augusta) up to the northern limit, approximately 50 miles in width (see map), isobaric lines indicated.  Wind from 320 at 15 knots.  Chief forecaster suggests remaining at the Cape as clouds should be past us (south) in 3 1/2 hours.  However, if they are not we should move east.  There is no way we can as there is no coast road.  "No matter what happens, the our satellite picture shows you will definitely be under high thin cirrus.  It's 6 of 1, half dozen of the other".
 

8:40 - After a conference with Mark, Craig, Barry, and Carter we decided to head for the lighthouse but keep the bus pointed north with the motor running.

9:00 - Well, we've arrived at the lighthouse, and staked our claim.  The activity is low as most people have gone to the Augusta air strip.  It is completely overcast now.  From this location we hope to see the shadow come in over the Indian Ocean and leave over the Antarctic Ocean.

9:40 - I've met some people from Mass., who were on the Canberra last year.  I have begun to set up my equipment (I can hope can't I?).

10:10 -  CAPE LEEUWIN: Latitude -34.347, Longitude 115.133E
The Questar is set up and loaded with Kodachrome-64.  The force fed spectrograph (for flash spectrum) is properly aligned. EFL = 600/150mm with/and without 3rd element.  Film: K-X.  Grating 28,00 lines/inch.

10:25 - I have just finished setting up the motorized Nikon (250 {Exposure} back) with the 400mm lens.  All tripods are now weighted with rock bags with about: 75lbs - Questar; 50 lbs - 400mm; 25-30lbs - spectrograph.  A suitable location has been found for recording air temperature.  WAIT!! ->

10:30 - The edge of the stratus clouds is visible above the hills to the north.  I estimate 25-30 miles away.  The sky is beautifully blue beyond.

10:45 - It is now about 1 hour before first contact.  The edge of the cloud layer is 20° above the horizon.  There is light - extremely light - cirrus beyond.  There is no doubt, with the clouds moving the way they are we will definitely see it.  The rest of the expedition is coming out of the bus to set up.  Even Mark!

11:20 - The edge of the clouds is now 45°-50° above the horizon, however scattered clouds beyond are preventing us from seeing the Sun clearly.

11:30 - The last of the bulk of scattered clouds has moved past the Sun's altitude (31°), and I have the solar disk in my 3 instruments.  The spectrograph is displaying a brilliant continuum spectrum.  There is one major sunspot group about 2/3 the way from the edge.

11:48:20 - FIRST CONTACT!  CLEAR SKIES!  YAHOO!

11:50 - First contact came slightly later than expected.  Perhaps this is an observational error, but that is hardly likely since myself and Peggy Jacobi disagree by only 2 seconds (I was earlier).  Timing was made by Carter Roberts watch, which was constantly checked with observatories along the way.  Since leaving L.A. it has gained 1 second.  At 1st contact the shaded air temperature was 16.5°C.

12:00 - Still same very thin scattered clouds, nut the "edge" of the main cloud bank is at our zenith.  No doubt about a successful eclipse.

12:15 - 3rd exposure of ingress shot through Questar, all exposures are 1/125 second.  There is no noticeable change in brightness or temperature yet.  The people (locals and Perthites) are lined up at the Questar for a peek at the Sun.  I have been distributing aluminized mylar, and it's going like hot cakes.

12:35 - Clouds? What clouds?  That's behind us now.  Blue skies above.  I am now putting an eyepatch over my left eye.  I may look like Moshe Dyan, but the old dark adaption trick worked in '70 and '73 (forget Cap Chat, it's a dirty word).

12:45 - Less than a half hour to go.  While there is no real temperature drop yet the ground level wind has picked up a bit.  And, a few people are sprouting blankets.  The landscape is beginning to take on an eerie cream color.

1:00 - This will be my last entry until after totality.  Things are really moving fast now.  It is rapidly cooling, or so it seems.  Everything is a creamy silvery color.  By now Craig Small on the 727 must know what the corona looks like.

1:25 - WOW!

Before any details:
WE SAW IT  FANTASTIC!!!!!!
BEST CORONA YET.
BEATS 70, 73 hands down.
I am now 3 for 5; 63, 70, 72, 73, 74!!!

1:28 - I want to get this down before I forget!  From 1:00 until second contact everything did move so fast, I had no time to write.  At 1:05 the sky grew noticeably darker every minute.  Creamy is not the right word for it.

At 1:10 the edge of the shadow could be easily seen at the horizon, steadily progressing over the Ocean.  The sky grew dark, as dark a sky as I've been under during an eclipse save for the rain in '63.  There was not any diamond ring at second contact nor any shadow bands.  The chromosphere was visible for about 12 seconds, and  naked eye prominence visible 15° above the contact tangent point.  The corona, for lack of an appropriate word, was magnificent. A large streamer to 4 radii was seen at 7:30 (position).  One minute into totality I ripped off my eyepatch and screamed my bloody head off as I saw it grow to 6 1/2 radii .  A bit to the north was a noticeable region of low brightness, and north of that {@} 10:30 a coronal loop (broken) which seemed to be associated with the prominence mentioned earlier. -> I just took another partial eclipse picture (1:36).  Getting back to totality <- both horizons glowed red at mid totality.  The northern horizon was more of a pink-orange color.  Many fine streamers could be detected visually.  I fired about 150 pictures with the motor drive, including 15 manually, up to 3 1/2 second exposures.  Flash spectra were hopefully obtained (2) at second contact - I hope {NYIT} is happy with the results!

Near mid-totality I looked around the sky for 15 seconds.  Acanar, Sirius, Canopus, the dimmest star I could see was Rigel and this only with averted vision!  I was unable to pick up Saturn or Mercury, though. Oh, yes, Venus became visible 5 minutes prior to totality.  The sky transparency was excellent, not even any cirrus clouds near the Sun.

As 3rd contact approached the chromosphere became visible for about 18 seconds.  An then - A beautiful diamond ring, the classic text book type.  After 4 seconds it broke up into two beads.  My motorized camera began firing 20 seconds beforehand at 2 frames/second 1/60 sec exposures.  I was busy with the spectrograph and couldn't take any pictures {of 3rd contact} with the.

Shadow bands were seen after 3rd contact for 20-25 seconds, but were extremely weak.  The contrast was too low to determine speed or width.  They looked more like the projected image of a heat wave rising from a radiator by a window.  They were perhaps 1/2 a stop in contrast between the dark and light.  But, here's the problem.  Carter Roberts and Myself definitely saw them moving AWAY from the sun on a sheet of paper (11.5"x24").  We were in front of the bus  Sally Diecke and Barrette Brick, located to the left of the bus swear they saw them moving TOWARD the Sun!  Both of us can't be right, unless, they were moving clockwise around the bus.  But *I* know what I say - AWAY!

-> Time for another picture - 1:45.  the sky is brightening again, and loosing its creamy appearance.  It was really cold a while ago <-
After 3rd contact, glancing back & forth from the shadow band sheet to the Sun, the corona was visible for about 20 seconds by occulting the emerging Sun with my thumb. The edge of the shadow was seen speeding away out over the Ocean, toward the awaiting groups at D'Entrecasteau, Walpole, and Albany. Again, Venus was seen for 4 1/2 minutes before it blended into the somewhat feeble daytime sky.

At 1:25 Mark popped the first bottle of Champaign and presented me with the cork, an honor I am told.  Let's get up to the present:

1:55 - The sky appears to be at its normal illumination again.  Some people are taking down equipment already but I'll stick it out till contact IV.  Its funny, during a partial eclipse everyone watches until the end.  But {with} a total, after totality forget it.  It's noticeably warmer now, I think I'll throw my sweater in the bus.

2:10 - I forgot to mention at second contact a dog began to howl.  At 3rd a whole flock of sea gulls lifted off the rocks (about 200 I estimate).  But 2 minutes into the eclipse {totality} some jackass came driving up the lighthouse road with his headlights glaring.  It's a good think I didn't have a tape recorder going or this writing would need a lot of expletives deleted in it.

2:20 - Well, it doesn't look like much, now.  Carter, Barry and I are the only ones still set up.  I'll be darned if I'll travel 12,000 miles and not watch all of it.

2:36:54 - LAST CONTACT.  GOOD-BYE NEW MOON.  SEE YOU (partly) DEC 13 AND AGAIN AT MT. GAMBIA, OCT 23, 1976 OR MY NAME ISN'T:

- Glenn Schneider -
SUCCESS!