Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Solar Eclipse in Asia

I can still remember the first time I saw a solar eclipse. It was back in 1991 in my country, when I was 9 years old. I was not prepared for the event and as a kid the adventure to look at it was stronger than safety. I barely remember it and even though we could not see totality from my city (perhaps a 90% of totality), it was an amazing adventure that I will never forget. For about 6 minutes the city lived the moment as if it was about nightfall but just for a few minutes. Then hours later the sun set and it felt like we’ve lived two sunsets in one day.  

The chance to see a total eclipse in one’s life is low since the probability that it occurs in the same area is one in every 300 years or more because the umbra (the darkest region) of the moon’s shadow reaches Earth on a relatively small area (about 250 kilometers).

25 years later, last March 9th, I had another chance to see an eclipse, but once again not a total one, only 40% of the sun covered. I felt really blessed I had this opportunity and I did not want to waste it. Honestly, I was not prepared to see the eclipse since I knew about it only 2 days before it happened. Looking at the sun directly without appropriate protection can result on a retina damage and permanent visual damage/sequelaes.  So, I look and look and the only safe way to see it without a filter and found it was by projecting the sun image on a sheet of paper using a small hole in a box (to produce enough shadow inside the box) or projecting with a pair of binoculars.

I have my binoculars but I did not want to risk the optics so I decided to try very short solar exposures (less than 30 seconds) and see how it worked. At the end, the day zero was a bit cloudy and I could only see the solar projection once. The clouds were setting like a filter so while I was looking for the sun, by accident I saw the eclipse for about 1 second.

The time was running fast and I could not get a picture of the projection so in my desperation I took my tablet´s camera and start to try some shoots between the cloudy filter. This is what I got:

With some imagination you can appreciate the solar bite in the right lower corner. I just want to have a picture for posterity and a little humor.

Next year, the turn is for US people. I hope they can have a lot of fun.


Edited by Jennifer Steinberg (editor in chief)

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