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Total Solar Eclipses



Go see one... really! Pictures cannot convey how impressive it really is. Furthermore, it gives you an excuse to travel to some exotic locale on a schedule that you can't change. None of this "Well, work got a bit busy, so I'll just go next year" stuff. 

I've seen three: July 1991 in La Paz, Mexico (the best for centuries, 7 minutes of totality); November 1994 in Puerto Igauzu, Argentina (3+ minutes, but Iguazu Falls was worth the trip without the eclipse); and August 1999 in Salzburg Austria (about 2 minutes)

Upcoming total eclipses:

21 June 2001 - Southern Africa, Madagascar

4 December 2002 - Southern Africa, Southern Australia

23 November 2003 - Australia, NZ, Antarctica

29 March 2006 - Central Africa, Turkey, Russia


NASA's eclipse home page

June 10, 2002 "Partial Eclipse in Los Angeles"

About 75% of the sun was covered on Monday afternoon, starting around 5:15 PM PDT. I did finally get some decent pictures of the crescent sun image projected through the leaves of a tree.

You can just see the crescents in this thumbnail. Click to see the bigger image where they are very obvious. Look also at the shadows of the individual leaves in the upper right. Here's a close up of some images projected on the garage door, where the crescent is very obvious. Look at the shadows of the leaves within the crescents in the right center. And, a shot to give some scale to the phenomenon.


August 11, 1999 "Last Eclipse of the Century"

We strategized where we would watch this one from, since the track crossed right through the middle of Europe. So many interesting places to go see! We settled on Salzburg Austria. Read all about it and look at some pictures.

July 11, 1991 "Eclipse of the Century"

This was notable because of its very long totality, over 7 minutes. This is from a combination of the sun being far away (and visually small) and the moon being close (and being visually big, so it obscures the sun longer). It was personally notable because it was the first total eclipse I have seen. I've written elsewhere that the antics of the eclipse chasers were almost as interesting as the eclipse, if not more so. A total eclipse is sort of interesting in an intellectual sense, but it is really more impressive in a visceral emotional sense. No words or pictures I have ever seen or heard can possibly convey the impact of the real thing. Now having done it, the words of the song about "going to Nova Scotia to see a total eclipse of the sun" have true meaning.

Here are some photos of the eclipse. Click on the thumbnails to see the bigger version. They're all about 30K or less in the large size. This was my first cut at scanning these images so a lot of the detail doesn't come through. They're also quite large on the screen, but compress quite nicely with JPEG (most of the image is black, after all).


A longer exposure showing corona detail. To the naked eye, the corona extended 4 or 5 diameters of the sun and was quite spectacular.
You could actually see red prominences with the naked eye. A shorter exposure captures some of the detail.
More prominence detail. A different image scanned at a higher resolution
During the partial phases, one of the more interesting phenomena is the projection of crescent sun images through pinholes and around edges. Here is a shadow of my hand with clearly visible crescents.

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