Friday, 18 September 2015

Added partial eclipse 13-Sep-15 to list

If you saw the partial solar eclipse of 13 September 2015 you can add it to your log entries. I know a couple people traveled to South Africa to catch a view and had partial clouded success. The IAU WGSE (International Astronomical Union, Working Group on Solar Eclipses) had a team there and here is a summary of the observations.

This situation makes me ponder the general rule of thumb: Anywhere for a total solar eclipse, Reasonable travel for an annular, and set up near home for partials. Observers from Germany, France, and the USA went to the southern most tip of Africa to see this last partial solar eclipse (just over 40% obscuration). They could have seen more (over 70% obscuration) if they went to Antarctica.

I realize that a portion of the visit to Africa was to help educate others for upcoming annular and total solar eclipses but it still makes me wonder why one would want to travel that far for a partial eclipse. The best answer thus far is "because we can". I say congratulations to all that went and saw the eclipse!

As a side note, Xavier Jubier and Mike Kentrianakis had just completed a grueling drive from Oregon to Missouri and back checking out eclipse sites before boarding a flight to Cape Town. Now that's eclipse chasing!

Partial Eclipse Clouds
When dealing with any eclipse one wants perfect weather. Unlike a total solar eclipse, a partial eclipse can be observed if just glimpses of the Sun can be seen between clouds. It can be frustrating to photograph the eclipse under such circumstances. Just as you get the focus perfect, another cloud gets in the way. Or you just can't seem to get a perfect focus because of the atmosphere. One thing you should not do is remove the solar filter unless you know exactly what you are doing (i.e.: EXPERT level). A sudden clear hole could damage equipment and worse, blind you. It is advised to always keep the solar filter on when the camera system is pointed towards the Sun.

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