The Eclipse, and All That

I really wanted to see the full solar eclipse, but I was stuck at home in Maryland, where we had a partial eclipse with 80 to 85 percent coverage of the sun. I knew that I wasn’t going to travel for the event, so I never got around to ordering sun viewing glasses. Instead, I put together a makeshift projector from a sturdy cardboard tube. I folded a piece of aluminum foil over one end and poked a small hole in the center of the foil with a frilly toothpick (class act, and all that!). Holding the tube with the foil-covered end toward the sun, I projected the image of the sun onto a piece of white cardboard. It’s nothing fancy; just a shipping box that contained pretzels, but the white coating on the box was perfect for this makeshift project. The timestamp on my camera was not set correctly, so I’m guessing this photo was taken between 2:30 and 2:45, or close to totality.

 

What was also interesting was finding little crescents everywhere. We don’t normally notice the shapes that are projected onto surfaces as sunlight filters through leaves, but during an eclipse the small gaps between leaves actually behaves like a lens and focuses the shape of the sun onto the ground and everywhere else. Usually it’s circular and we just aren’t aware of it, but here you can see the crescents scattered on the road surface. I also had crescents dancing on my living room floor where the sunlight was being filtered through the tree leaves and my Venetian blinds.

So, I’m hoping to catch the next solar eclipse. I want to experience the quality of light as well as the astronomical event itself. Perhaps by then I’ll be ready with a telescope and tracking mount for my camera, too. But in the meantime, there are some very interesting effects from the eclipse that are easy to photograph with basic equipment. I took both of these photos with a Nikon Coolpix, and these images could easily have been captured with my cell phone’s camera, too. I’d rather do some serious photography with my SLR, but my work schedule — and admittedly, my lack of preparation — meant that I had to grab things at the last minute and run out the door.

The worst part of the eclipse photography for me was that my yard is full of mosquitoes, and so now I am full of mosquito bites — and still scratching, one week later. Ugh.

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