Tiffin man, grandson travel 430 miles to view, photograph total solar eclipse

PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY TOM FRETZ: The sun as seen through Tom Fretz’s telescope before the total eclipse, during totality and near the end.

A Tiffin man and his grandson traveled 430 miles Aug. 21 to view the total eclipse that moved across the country.

Tom Fretz, 68, and Nicholas Fretz, 13, stopped at a Welcome Center along the borders of Kentucky and Tennessee along Interstate 65 with a 72-millimeter telescope equipped with a camera to wait to see the moon pass over the sun.

“We have been looking forward to this for a long time,” Tom Fretz said.

For the past two to three years, to be exact.

“For 430 miles, it was not something to miss,” he said.

Tom said he and his grandson had a great time.

“Everyone was very welcoming and nice about us coming down there,” he said.

By 8:30 a.m., Tom Fretz said, the rest stop was full of people from all over. He said he met people from Ontario, Cleveland, New York and other cities.

The amount of time the viewers had of totality was 2:34 minutes, Tom Fretz said.

This was his first total eclipse, having viewed many partial eclipses.

“The first word was ‘awesome,’ “ he said about the eclipse.

What was most exciting, Tom Fretz said, was seeing the look on his grandson’s face when totality finally took place.

“At first he was not too thrilled, but when totality hit, he was very impressed and was glad he was there,” he said.

Tom Fretz said he always has been interested in looking through a telescope since he was a child. He said the planets are what drew him.

“When you see Saturn’s rings for the first time, it is inspiring,” he said. “Seeing Jupiter and its bands and the red spot are very neat.”

“There is so much out there,” he said. “There is nothing to be afraid of.”

Tom Fretz since has become an amateur astronomer, joining astronomy clubs in Tiffin and Findlay.

During their meetings, he said, the members talk about what they have seen through their telescopes and what they are expecting to see.

He has gotten more involved after his retirement from American Standard.

“I have more time at night to take out my telescope and not have to get up in the morning,” he said.

For the past five years, Tom Fretz also has taken up photography, capturing images through his telescope.

He said he enjoys taking photos of galaxies and globular clusters – which are thousands of stars grouped together that resemble a snow ball in the sky.

“I have to take long-exposure photographs to see all the details,” he said.

Comet Hale-Bopp was the first image he captured through a telescope, he said. He also has taken all but seven of the 110 deep sky objects in the (Charles ) Messier catalog – a well-known catalog in astronomy that includes open and globular star clusters, galaxies, nebulae, an asterism, a double star and even a supernova remnant.

Fretz said he is looking forward to seeing the next total eclipse to cross the U.S., which is to take place seven years from now and northwest Ohio is to be in the path of totality.

“You can walk out your door and see it,” Tom said. “But you’ll have to hope for the best and watch out for the clouds.”