The eclipse’s really early birds

This article appeared in The Washington Post on Aug. 18, 2017

Thousands of eclipse oglers eager to secure their viewing spots have been pouring into rural towns on Oregon’s arid east side and craggy coast for days. But some Oregon residents have been preparing for Monday’s total solar eclipse for much, much longer.

Kay Wyatt and her husband, Steven, moved to Depoe Bay, Ore., 15 years ago, in no small part because it lies on the centerline of the path of totality — the 60-mile-wide swath across the country where the moon will completely block the sun on Monday. The Wyatts are geophysicists who traveled the world conducting seismic exploration for oil and natural gas. When they retired, they wanted to live somewhere they could indulge another mutual passion: amateur astronomy.

They took their obsession a step further about four years ago and bought a plot of land near the coast, in Otis — also on the path of totality. They built a summer home and their own observatory, which shelters a telescope in an eight-foot-diameter dome. It’s high enough to get a clear view of the sky, and far enough inland that it’s less likely to be blocked by the fog and clouds that can cling to the coastal cliffs and beaches here even in summer. That’s where they’re planning to watch the eclipse. More…