Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sometimes the cool things come to you...Eclipse 2012

I wasn't paying a whole lot to the eclipse business this last week. I knew we were well south of where totality would occur, and I just got back from a long trip, so I wasn't feeling up to driving four hours north. I just didn't think there would be that much to see down here in Modesto. In the early afternoon, I looked at the maps again and thought maybe it would be a good idea to grab the solar filter from our telescope at work, and got the tripod ready with my camera set on high zoom (30x). I was really surprised at what was visible today. It was about as complete an eclipse as could be without seeing the total ring around the moon.

I was surprised to see the sunspots in the first shot (click on the photo to see an enlarged version). I was running errands, and when I got home 30 minutes later, I noticed the sky was darker and it was noticeably cooler. The sun was maybe 80-85% covered by the moon. The kids in the neighborhood wanted to see, so they gathered around the camera for a look. They were actually impressed, so I hope a few careers in science might have started today...
 Another 30 minutes later, the moon was moving past the sun and the sky grew brighter again.
 I love the little side effects of an eclipse. The stippled light shining through leaves forms thousands of crescents on the nearby wall.
This was the best eclipse I've seen since 1991. That year, there was a total eclipse that would touch on Hawaii and the south end of the Baja Peninsula. We thought of Hawaii, but a relative offered cheap rent at a condo in San Jose del Cabo, so we headed south. That turned out to be a good choice, as Hawaii was clouded over during the eclipse. We got the whole show from a vantage point on a high hill looking over twenty miles of tropical coastline.

If you EVER get the chance to see a total eclipse, do it! The five minutes of totality in 1991 was one of the strangest moments of my life. The sun disappeared and stars appeared in the sky! The temperature dropped 15-20 degrees in a matter of moments. Looking at the event, I had little trouble appreciating the meaning that the ancients applied to eclipses. It was otherworldly; I almost found myself chanting for the dragon to release the sun from its prison!

I'm sorry if you weren't living in the path of the eclipse. Enjoy these pictures, maybe, and start planning for 2017 in Oregon!


Cindy P. said...

Thanks for the photos! and the description of the total eclipse you witnessed in 1991! I shared that with my teenage son, the part about seeing the stars blew us both away... We had fun with today's eclipse,and it was eerie when the temperature dropped in Sacramento. But the part we enjoyed the most was the light coming through the tree leaves. Yes, I think science had a little victory today, my son said a lot of his friends posted about it on FB... :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for the photos. I thought I saw sunspots (at the edge of the crescent. Thanks for the confirm. I too, and all our neighbors, thought the best part was the leaf shadows.

Gaelyn said...

The annular eclipse was Amazing. I took over 100 photos, with a solar filter. Will post soon.

Lockwood said...

The 2017 eclipse will be the first in a long time- I think a century or more- that goes all the way across the US, coming ashore near Lincoln City in Oregon, and heading out over the Atlantic from just north of Charleston, South Carolina. It passes over or near quite a few substantial cities, and I expect it will be the mostly widely viewed in US history. Here's a map:
...and here's a sweet on-line Google app: