Annular Eclipse of the Sun

May 20th, 2012

My home was inside the totality band for the annular eclipse, although some distance from the central line. I decided to take a rather different photo of the eclipse. So I built a box, 7 feet long by 2 feet wide by 10 inches deep. I put a white backing on the inside bottom end. Then I wrapped the whole thing in a heavy blanket to block all light leaks. Here’s the result:

Next I attached a piece of foam board to the front, onto which I had drawn a rectangular grid:

At each intersection in the grid, I punched a hole with a needle. Note the gap at the right edge; that’s for viewing and photographing the result, which looked like this:

Unfortunately, we had high clouds in southern Oregon at the time of the eclipse. They were thick enough that this photo is not as bright or contrasty as it would have been had the sky been clear. Worse, the clouds were thickest right at maximum eclipse; the photos I shot at that time are barely recognizable because they’re so dark. This is one of the best that I did get.

Note that the images are not all the same brightness. That’s due to tiny variations in the precise size of the pinholes. Some were partially obstructed by tiny bits of “paper flashing”. I passed the needle though each hole several times, from both directions, but I couldn’t get them right. Some of the pinholes I manually expanded solely because they gave such weak images.

One other thing: look again at the photo of the foam board. Notice how weak my shadow is. That’s how bad the clouds were most of the time; it was even worse at maximum eclipse; I couldn’t even see my own shadow (and no, I’m not a vampire.)

The first photo, in strong sunlight, was taken about an hour before maximum eclipse. The clouds timed their appearance perfectly.