- Posted May 23, 2012 by
Palm Desert, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Light Years: Your view of space and stars
Annular Solar Eclipse from Kanarravile, Utah
Kanarraville, Utah, USA. Not a place that comes to the mind unless there is an Annular Solar Eclipse receiving great attention from sky watchers like us. We have passed the bedroom community of Kanarraville several times while driving north on US Highway 15 through Utah. A town 9 miles south of Cedar City with a population of less than 350 people - on May 20th the town grew to an overwhelming crowd of over 40,000. After many hours of research and the construction of a special filter to capture the Annular, Ablexplorers hit the road, headed to Kanarravile, the closest ‘sweet spot’ to view and record this remarkable celestial event.
Known as ‘The Ring of Fire’, the passing of the Sun behind the Moon, in-line with certain points on Earth is a rare phenomenon that happens only because the Moon is far enough away from Earth to not quite cover the face of the Sun and leaves a bright ring of the Sun just visible at maximum eclipse.
The surrounding light turns a ghostly blue grey and a condensation mist starts to appear as the ground cools during maximum eclipse. Even the crickets started chirping as the eclipse progressed.
1994 was the last time an Annular Solar Eclipse happened in the US and 2023 is projected to be the next occurrence. Indeed a rare event, and one not to be missed.
The phenomenon was magical to watch as you wrap your mind around events and forces that explain the dynamics of space. I happened to come across an animation of the upcoming event on the internet, and, for a moment, was confused by the fact that the Moon was crossing the Sun from the bottom right hand corner. What is actually happening is the Sun is passing across the backside of the Moon and both are setting down to the horizon. The Sun just happens to be moving faster. With this in mind my wife Vikki set the eclipse pictures from right to left to represent how the Moon appeared to be travelling.
Filtering the Sun’s glare was clearly a critical piece of taking photographs of the eclipse. Warnings abound as to the dangers of retinal destruction if you look at the Sun through magnifying mediums such as cameras, binoculars and telescopes. Damage is permanent and only takes a split second. I was going to use my Canon 800mm fixed telephoto lens to photograph the event. The receiving end of the lens is 6” across and I was not able to find a solar filter to fit such a large aperture. Research pushed me in the direction of making my own filter from a safety film named BAADER AstroSolar™. I purchased a 7” x 7” pre-cut piece of film and fashioned a filter holder from cardboard, duct-tape, and foam strips that fits snugly over the end of the lens. In this way I was able not only to look through the viewfinder, directly at the Sun, but also to take photographs without damaging my camera, or my eyes.
Apart from the mind blowing maximum eclipse I was also fascinated by seeing the Sun setting with the Moon in front of it and the horizon coming up from the bottom edge of the picture. We see the Sun set, we see the Moon set, and we see the horizon. How often do we see the three in juxtaposition creating such a spectacular heavenly phenomenon?
Photograph and story by: Phil Cracknell