Astronomy Magazine Eclipse Tour 2017 Day 9

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, August 31, 2017

Old Faithful blows its top right on schedule at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Photo by David J. Eicher.

Well, what happens when you’re traveling with 89 eclipse chasers (and 350 on eclipse day!), you see the eclipse in a perfect sky, activities are happening dawn to dusk, and you return to work to a huge mass of catching-up to do? 

The blogging goes by the wayside. But anyway, here I am to close out the story of our great trip to see the eclipse and national parks of the American West. 

On the day following the eclipse, August 22, we headed north to Yellowstone National Park. All of us were treated to an eruption of Old Faithful, the famous geyser, soon after we pulled into the parking lot of the lodge area. And we were able to stay long enough — 2-1/2 hours there — to see it erupt a second time. During the stay, we rambled across the landscape and explored numerous fumaroles, mud pots, bubbling vents, weird pools filled with extremophile microbes, and smaller, less celebrated geysers. It was a geologist’s dream, and we snapped pictures all day long. The sometimes strong smell of sulfur reminded us of the underground danger that may awaken the supervolcano that lies underneath this area, at least some day off in the distant future. 

Yellowstone is also blessed with huge areas of natural beauty apart from volcanism. Lakes, long, winding rivers, huge stands of pines, and vast valleys roll over the incredibly vast territory. We saw plenty of bison and numerous birds, including eagles and hawks, but no bears. (Hey, bears are fun!) Back in the day, when my father and his parents went to Yellowstone every couple of years, in the 30s, seeing grizzlies was an everyday occurrence. Now, it’s a rarity. 

We continued out northward quest. More to come. 

Another shot of Old Faithful at its eruptive best. Photo by David J. Eicher.

Yellowstone’s natural beauty is nearly overwhelming. Photo by David J. Eicher.

Numerous hydrothermal pools in Yellowstone harbor weird, high-temperature microbes. Photo by David J. Eicher.

Strange areas of iron-rich fluids color the landscape orange and brown in various areas. Photo by David J. Eicher.

Yellowstone’s spectacular geothermal pools display a wide range of rich color. Photo by David J. Eicher.

Another shot of Old Faithful doing its thing. Photo by David J. Eicher.

Strange colors occupy the ground all over the Yellowstone area. Photo by David J. Eicher.

Trees in Yellowstone periodically weather fires and also highly acidic groundwater from the volcanism. Photo by David J. Eicher.

Strange, hot mud pots bubble all over the land at Yellowstone. Photo by David J. Eicher.

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