Saturday, May 26, 2012

Celestial shadows

Last Sunday, dinner was late.  Not because the day had fallen apart.  Rather, there was an annular eclipse of the sun that almost, but not quite, reached totality in our neck of the woods right when I would normally be getting dinner on the table.  Naturally we had to go outside instead of eating.

I dug out the handy-dandy piece of welder's glass that I've been carrying around since I taught an eclipse lesson to high school students while I was in college.  Chad made a five-minute pinhole camera.  Nim kept coming outside every five minutes and commenting about how much more of the solar cookie was eaten.  We all tried to take pictures through the welder's glass to see if it could be done.

The coolest part in my mind, however, was how the gaps between the leaves of the back yard trees acted as natural pinhole cameras. I've noted this before in other eclipses, but this time the projection on the side of the house in the late afternoon low-angle sun was particularly neat.  When the wind came up, the whole set of images would shimmer and dance.

While this all happened, the daylight was noticeably dimmed.  The cats tore insanely about the house.  Of course, that might be just because they too were hungry for dinner.

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