Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Packing up

Getting ready to head out to the annular eclipse. Denise and I are going to California to view it with some fellow eclipse chasers. This breaks my normal rule of thumb that an annular solar eclipse is worth driving to see, but no more. We are flying to California - then driving.

Over the past few weeks I've received a number of messages from people located in southern California who wonder if it is worth the drive up to the northern part of the state to view the annular solar eclipse. If this was a total solar eclipse, the answer would be a resounding YES. But this is an annular solar eclipse. While the light of the Sun will diminish, it is nothing like a total solar eclipse - not even close. It is more of a teaser for those of us that have seen total solar eclipses.

So why drive up to see it? The only reason to consider such is if you are an amateur astronomer or a photographer who would like to see the "ring of fire" as some have called it. It is not something you can look at without eye protection, you will need the same solar filter that can be used to view a partial solar eclipse. That means that most people in the southern CA region should elect to simply enjoy a deep partial solar eclipse. If you have a solar filter, share it with others as you watch the Moon almost completely cover the Sun with a dramatic crescent shape as in the following image.

What will one see in northern California? Something more like the following image.

To make these images, in 1994, I had driven to Toledo Ohio and set up a small telescope (Questar) with a full aperture glass solar filter. The filter I used creates a pleasing orange/yellow image of the solar photosphere showing sunspots in fair to good detail when they are visible.

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