The Great American Eclipse

On Monday, August 21, 2017, nearly all of North America got a rare treat to observe a full solar eclipse as it passed from Oregon to South Carolina. Most people I know stayed in the Los Angeles area and observed the partial eclipse (almost 70%) while at work. Others took the day off and flocked up to Oregon to contend with the crowds. I took the opportunity to return to the Midwest to see my family and witness the full eclipse from the southeast corner of Nebraska as the eclipse made its path there just after 1 pm.

scattered storms throughout southeast Nebraska

Was it worth dodging scattered thunderstorms throughout the state and driving 5 hours with very low odds on having clear skies? Yes!

total solar eclipse, August 21, 2017; Beatrice, Nebraska

Fortune smiled on us as the clouds cleared (for the most part) at just the right moment. While many locations were destined to be disappointed by heavy cloud cover and rain, the city of Beatrice in Nebraska was blessed to have a clear enough view through thin high altitude clouds. A view clear enough for me to snap a few pictures using the solar eclipse glasses as a lens cover with my cell phone as the moon moved into totality.

Only during the moment of complete coverage (totality) was it safe to directly view the sun. Even under a partial eclipse, the sun WILL damage your eyes if viewed directly. To be safe, only eye-wear and filters that meets the ISO 12312-2:2015 specification requirements should be used.

just before totality, using the filter over the camera lens

While my photos of the corona were underwhelming, I did snap some photos around the area to show how rapidly the skies got a little dim and then DARK! To illustrate what it was like in the path of totality, In these four successive shots of the same street view where we stood, you see just how dark it suddenly gets in the penumbra. Our location was nearly ideal as we had nearly 2 minutes and 30 seconds under the total solar eclipse!

just before totality

same view, in the darkness of totality

coming out of darkness, the penumbra moves on

back to normal, eclipse has passed minutes later

I was glad to witness the event with my wife, Kathleen, and my nephew, Joseph. It’s these rare events that can make great memories as you do them with family and friends.

safely witnessing the eclipse

If you missed this grand event, Americans will have another chance almost seven years later on April 8, 2024. The NASA website is an excellent resource for eclipse viewing and future events.

NASA official website – Eclipse

If anyone else has photos or stories to share, please let me know on the forum.

August 2017 meeting

The RRS met for our monthly meeting Friday, August 11th, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. We were well attended, but got a late start. After the usual reading of the treasurer’s report, we began the meeting with the first agenda topic.

Frank has been talking with several groups interested in doing alpha build events including the LAPD wanting to serve another set of students in another housing project in Watts. The Watts event at the MTA was very successful and we discussed what went well and what could be improved.

We discussed getting a shared server for running RRS members to run applications related to rocketry. Frank and Chris are looking into options but haven’t found anything yet. Many of us use cloud services to store our files, but the RRS ought to discuss data storage options that can be better accessed by our membership. This topic is on-going.

The RRS history project continues. We received a set of RRS newsletters from Bill Claybaugh (thank you, Bill!). Richard Garcia continues to scan the newsletter stacks he has. We are still interested in getting reports, newsletters and anything else relevant to our history.

Bill Claybaugh was also kind to donate one of his 3-inch nozzles with a graphite insert to the society. In time, we will receive Bill’s propellant test rig which I look forward to examining and using at the MTA.

Bill Claybaugh’s three-inch nozzle

side view of three-inch nozzle with graphite throat

The RRS has made contact with our founder, George James, and some of the other early members of the society. We hope to schedule interviews and help to document as much of our history as we can in advance of the 75th anniversary symposium, April 14, 2018. The RRS is working on a list of our officers going back through the many years to the beginning starting with George James. We appreciate the help we’ve got so far, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

The next launch event at the MTA will likely be in the latter part of September. Some of the potential events with schools will be in October. There is significant interest in the RRS having a launch event for the several members interested in launching their own alphas. Many of our new members, Alastair, Bill, Angel and now Drew, have expressed interest in launching their own alphas. Myself and Larry will likely try to put something together as I continue to work on the parachute system for the alpha.

The council will update our membership once the next launch event at the MTA can be organized and set.

We had hoped to look at the footage from the keychain camera mounted to the fin on LAPD’s alpha rocket. The camera was recovered and the data was good, but Osvaldo did not have the opportunity to edit the footage. Alastair also had some video footage he took from the 7-22-2017 Watts launch event at the MTA, but he was still editing. We decided to push this item off to next month.

We discussed timer chips and other methods of switching on payloads right at launch. I brought my wood block breadboard and worked with Richard to resolve some issues with my circuit not firing. Osvaldo built a cotter-pin based spring-loaded switch that he mounted inside a segment of the alpha payload as an example. The society continues its efforts to learn more about what works with payloads and what doesn’t. I discussed my idea to attempt a flight speed sensor with a pair of barometric pressure sensing chips. Osvaldo said he’d drill a hole in the tip of an aluminum nosecone for the stagnation port.

We adjourned late at 9:22pm. In the future, we need to watch the time spent on each agenda topic. I would suggest we bring a simple battery-powered 6-inch wall clock into the meeting room so all people can more easily keep better track of time without pulling out their phones.

The topic of issuing membership cards and developing a better system of tracking dues collections was not addressed and will also be pushed to the next monthly meeting.

Our next meeting will be Friday, September 8, 2017.

If there is anything I missed or misstated, please let me know.

RRS presents at Mars City PowerLab 2017

Mars City Foundation has introduced the Power Lab for this year, 2017, to help the Mars generation develop the skills and build the tools and technology necessary for this important time and mission.

Starting August 1st, the Power Lab is a two week long “science retreat” where students will have the opportunity to explore ideas in a workshop with experts from NASA and with other technical organizations giving cross-disciplinary expertise for PowerLab attendees to begin tangibly building the technology and tools to build mankind’s future life on Mars.

Mars City Foundation

Mars City Design

RRS vice president, Frank Miuccio presented on the third day of the workshop at the University of Southern California (USC) with a presentation on the “Past, Present and Future of the RRS”. The RRS was glad to share some of our history and present endeavors and aspirations for our society.

PowerLab attendees inspect an RRS standard alpha rocket

Frank also showed the video of George Garboden’s altitude record setting amateur rocket launch back in November 23, 1996 at Black Rock, Nevada.  

RRS presents to the PowerLab attendees

Frank closed the presentation with an update on the SuperDosa project to reclaim the amateur altitude record for the RRS. The students had many questions and was interested in the many things that the RRS was doing.

The RRS is glad to continue our support of the Mars City Foundation and we hope to be present for other Mars City events in the future. The RRS thanks Vera Mulyani for inviting the society to be a part of the PowerLab event.

For any questions regarding the RRS, please contact Frank Miuccio:

For questions regarding Mars City PowerLab, visit the Mars City Foundation website:
Mars City Foundation