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!
Post a Comment