the Degree Confluence Project

United States : Idaho

20.1 miles (32.4 km) WNW of Mackay, Custer, ID, USA
Approx. altitude: 2071 m (6794 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreetMap topo aerial ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 44°S 66°E

Accuracy: 2 m (6 ft)
Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: View East during totality #3: View South #4: View West #5: GPS Position #6: Confluence and Eclipse chasers #7: The Jarrett family #8: Solar projection #9: Survey marker 181 meters to Northeast of point #10: Differential position #11: Temperature change during the Eclipse. Red line is Totality. Time on scale is 1 hour behind local time.

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  44°N 114°W (visit #4)  

#1: View North

(visited by Shawn Fleming, Ross Finlayson and Jerry Heikkinen)

21-Aug-2017 -- I had been planning to visit this confluence for well over a year. What started as a brainstorming idea with Joseph Kerski during a joint visit to 34N 112W to have a gathering at a confluence during the upcoming total solar eclipse resulted in a lot of research for where the best possible location could be.

This confluence seemed to be the most suitable due to its proximity to the centerline of totality and for weather and public access but, like many confluences, it’s a long way from anywhere. A public invite was made on the DCP website and I was surprised that others also found the idea of visiting a confluence during the totality of a solar eclipse appealing.

Jerry and I had visited this confluence the day prior just in case weather would force us to go to another location to experience totality and then continued on to 45N 114W before returning to our hotel in Hailey, ID.

All the hotels and campgrounds in the area were full – I’m glad I made reservations in Hailey over a year prior because many places were charging several hundred dollars per night due to the eclipse. Everybody was coming from all directions to see the eclipse!

The morning of the eclipse, we got up early and were northbound before sunrise. On the way to Sun Valley a herd of elk was crossing the road and stopping traffic. What a spectacular sight! We turned onto Trail Creek Road and the conversation turned to the visibility we might expect since the smoke from several distant fires was a real concern. Up and over the pass the visibility seemed favorable but less so as we descended.

We turned onto Bartlett Point Road and parked in a pull-out next to another car that had camped there for the night. It turns out they had randomly picked this same spot to watch the eclipse and were unaware of the pending confluence gathering!

Grzegorz Chyla and his family from Poland and his extended family soon drove up. We hiked the 400 meters to the confluence and set up chairs and tripods and cameras. Ross Finlayson was also there and soon, Alex Jarrett arrived with his parents and also his brother and his wife! What a gathering of scientists, engineers, teachers, and outdoor adventurers this had become!

We had brought a few packages of Celebratory Confluence Chocolate Chip Cookies (C5’s) for everybody to share and the Chyla family brought some delicious crackers from Poland!

All of us had eclipse glasses to watch but there were also several cameras being set up to capture the event. I brought a pair of Lunt SUNoculars that provided a great magnified view of the sun during the eclipse, we were watching as the disk of the moon was obscuring sun spots. Someone had brought a normal pair of binoculars that were used to make a great projection of the sun. Ross and Grzegorz had brought solar filters for their cameras and took simply outstanding pictures during totality!

No matter how cool the pictures were, nothing could come close to capturing or adequately describing the sensations experienced during totality. This link show the Eclipse Megamovie 2017.

I brought my Onset Temperature Data Logger set to record the temperature change throughout the event. Picture 11 shows the temperature changes we experienced. The time axis is an hour behind the actual local time.

Jerry set up his iPad to create a super cool time lapse video of the entire event. Here is another interesting time lapse from my Kodak fisheye camera looking skyward capturing a horizon to horizon view. These videos capture everybody’s activities and the sky throughout the event.

Following the end of totality, we celebrated Grzegorz’s birthday by singing Happy Birthday in English and then again in Polish (the tune is very similar!). Champagne and appropriately (solar) themed Corona Beer (thanks Ross!) were toasted and the rest of the C5’s were consumed. All of us were profoundly impacted by the celestial event we had just experienced.

During this time, we also met with Alex to discuss the Degree Confluence Project.

This confluence is located on top of a small plateau high enough to mask the view of Bartlett Point Road where we parked. Sagebrush is the predominant vegetation at the point. The haze encountered on the previous day reduced visibility considerably compared to the day of the Eclipse. The views of the mountains north and east are reduced by the haze. On Sunday, Borah Peak – the highest peak in Idaho – was obscured by haze. The view to the South shows the 10,012’ Porphyry Peak on an azimuth where the Sun would almost be back to 100% at the end of the eclipse. The view west looks at a slight rise and the road leading back to Sun Valley.

Post processing of the GPS data (6008 positions) reveals that my Trimble GPS receiver was 0.903 meters bearing 017 degrees from the actual confluence with a Horizontal Precision of 2.1 meters.

What’s everybody doing on April 8, 2024? How about another confluence eclipse? The path or width of totality is much larger for this eclipse and there will be literally dozens of potential confluences that fall within totality!

Our adventure continued later that day at 43N 114W.

 All pictures
#1: View North
#2: View East during totality
#3: View South
#4: View West
#5: GPS Position
#6: Confluence and Eclipse chasers
#7: The Jarrett family
#8: Solar projection
#9: Survey marker 181 meters to Northeast of point
#10: Differential position
#11: Temperature change during the Eclipse. Red line is Totality. Time on scale is 1 hour behind local time.
ALL: All pictures on one page