Sunday, May 20, 2012


May 20, 2012 Annular Eclipse from Grand Junction, Colorado
Nan and I followed the annular eclipse throughout this evening from our home in Grand Junction. We weren't in the "ring of fire" zone, but according to a diagram I found on the website, we were right at the edge of the ninety percent zone. It was still very impressive.

We experimented with a few different ways to view the eclipse. I built a simple pin-hole viewer out of a shoe box, but the projected image was really small. The photo below shows Nan holding it as the eclipse approached local totality. If you click the photo, you should be able to see the tiny crescent shape more clearly. We also projected the eclipse through binoculars onto our backyard fence, but the image was a little fuzzy. We had the greatest success stacking three layers of photographic negatives together and holding them up about a foot in front of our eyes to view the eclipse directly. This is probably a no-no, but if you don't think ahead and buy a pair of "eclipse glasses," then you try to make do. The photo above was taken through the negatives and shows an unusual effect, multiple images of the eclipse radiating out from the bright central image. The only explanation for this that I can think of is that the sunlight was refracting and reflecting between the three different layers of film. If anyone has a better explanation, I'd like to hear it. Again, if you click the photo, you should be able to see the eclipse images more clearly.

Nan holding a pin-hole projector for the May 20, 2012 annular eclipse
It's a busy few weeks for astronomical phenomena. Coming up on Wednesday, June 5, Venus will perform a transit across the face of the sun. We'll try to come up with a better projection system for that one and share the photos. In the meantime, happy stargazing!

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