Former TVA Engineer From Chattanooga Has Ideal Equipment, Venue For Eclipse Front Row Seat

Monday, August 21, 2017
Eclipse totality
Eclipse totality
- photo by M.A. Locke

A former TVA engineer from Chattanooga had the top equipment and venue for the solar eclipse he has been waiting 47 years to see.

Bob Anderson, a graduate of East Ridge High and UTC, said he went to the library at the time of a partial eclipse in Chattanooga in 1970 and noted there would be a full one in 2017. He said, "I never dreamed I would get to view it with the equipment and the location that I did."

Mr. Anderson was one of 68 individuals chosen by the National Science Foundation to take multiple images during the eclipse to provide information to researchers and to produce a 90-minute film about the natural phenomenon. As part of the Citizen Continental America Telescopic Eclipse Experiment, he was provided with a powerful telescope and a laptop computer with specially designed eclipse software.

It so turns out also that his wife's parents, Charlie and Lib Baker, have a cabin on Watts Bar Lake at Spring City - 100 feet from the eclipse center line.

The Bakers and Andersons invited some 40 of their family and friends for the special event, including Richard and Wilma Lockery of Ooltewah. Ms. Lockery said it was a very special event, including a view of a sunset and then a sunrise on the lake waters as the giant shadow passed. She said those in attendance were able to get a play by play description of just what was going on.

Mr. Anderson, though an engineer, has long had a special interest in astronomy. He said he jumped at the chance when he learned about the opportunity to take part in recording this eclipse.

He said this gave a special opportunity to learn more about the edge of the sun that only comes available during an eclipse.

He said he had been apprehensive about performing well - noting all the expense that had gone into the preparation. But he said he was able to capture numerous images of the sun as the moon passed. "The sky was absolutely crystal clear," he said. 

The temperature dropped about nine degrees in Spring City during the event.

He was able to point out all the special features of the eclipse and display a view of the planet Venus on his special telescope.

Mr. Anderson and his wife took a cruise to Aruba to view an eclipse there in 1998.

The Chattanooga native who is now involved with an observatory in West Virginia said he is already looking forward to a 2024 eclipse that will start in Mexico and proceed north through Texas, the Midwest and into Canada.




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