Working Around a Solar Eclipse (Oct 2014)

I literally found out yesterday about today’s partial solar eclipse. Unlike the last one visible from Southern California in 2012, which was conveniently on a weekend, this ended up being right in the middle of the work day. Add in a lot of other stuff going on, and I didn’t have time to do anything like go out to a prime viewing spot or make a giant pinhole camera.

My original plan was to take a late lunch, see what I could see, then try to head back outside at the point of greatest eclipse. I sat on a bench in the courtyard, surrounded by trees, checking a tiny pinhole camera I’d made from a tea box at the last minute and also looking for a good spot with images projected through the tree leaves.

After about half an hour I started to wonder why I wasn’t seeing any signs of eclipse, and looked up the times again. Apparently the calculator I used didn’t account for daylight saving time. The good thing about that: I was early, not late. The bad thing: Greatest eclipse was actually going to be during/shortly after a production switchover at work that I needed to be on hand for.

So I headed back outside around 2:50 to look at the clusters of eclipsed suns projected by the leaves in the shady courtyard.

I also tried to see if I could get, not a direct photo of the sun — it’s so bright that even the shortest exposure at the highest F-stop overwhelms my camera — but at least a lens flare showing the shape of the eclipsed disc, like last time. No such luck. Just out of curiosity I tried taking a few shots reflected in the buildings, but it didn’t make much difference. I headed back up to the office.

Around 3:30 I went back outside, right around the time of greatest eclipse (about 40% of the way across the sun’s disc). I caught a glimpse of the sun and actually picked out the shape — a nice bite taken out of the top of the sun — in the split second before I blinked and looked away.

The projections through the leaves were once again the best view, and now showed a much larger bite.

The tea box pinhole camera actually did work, though the image was tiny (about 1 mm) and blurry.

Eclipsed view in the tiny pinhole camera Tea box pinhole camera

And this time I had more success with lens flare. Take that, JJ Abrams!

Eclipse: Multicolored Lens Flare

I like how this one has lens flare from multiple reflected images of the sun, since the window panes aren’t exactly lined up with each other.

Eclipse: multiple reflections' lens flare

All in all, while it wasn’t as exciting as going out to an impromptu festival and looking at the sun through filtered telescopes and welding goggles, it was still interesting…and being around trees and reflective buildings helped me see some sights that I didn’t see for the last one!

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