Monday, May 21, 2012

What an eclipsical day! (annular eclipse activities)

We started out in the morning, watching a Bill Nye The Science Guy episode on the sun. Lucky me, I found the clip pertaining to solar eclipses on You Tube!  Here it is:

My children could relate to the scene of Bill staggering around with a box on his head, shouting, "Look at that thing!  You can see it perfectly! They laughed at me, they laughed!" (Bill introducing the pinhole viewer...something my kids know well from their pinhole-photographer mother, who is sometimes embarrassing in her exuberance out in public places)

We made 2 different pinhole viewers, per instructions we found on the internet...

One was made from a cereal box.  The foil plate contains the pinhole, and Daughter is looking through a hole on the other side of the box, as the image of the sun is projected on to the bottom of the box.  The image was about the size of 1/4 of a pea, but it was sharp and bright.   We tracked the moon's progress across the sun easily.

We made our other viewer from two shipping tubes.  Son is aiming the pinhole (on the high end of the tube in this photo) towards the sun, where it's image projects down through the dark tube, onto the end cap.  A hole is cut in the side of the tube for viewing of the image.

 Ta da!!  Once we made the pinhole bigger (by carefully poking a paper clip end through our smaller hole)   The sun's image was bright, sharp, and very easily seen by any bystander!

Due to the 4-ft focal length, (distance from pinhole to projection "screen")  the sun's image was about the size of Daughter's thumbnail.

 This gentleman found the same tube viewer website that we did! He was the person who kindly lent us the paperclip....

Our local astronomy club was there with about 10 telescopes, equipped with filters on the front for safer,direct viewing of the sun.   This is a 4-minute time lapse photo of one astronomer, his telescope, and all the blur of people who stood in line to view the sun.  I took the photo with my paint can pinhole camera, right about maximum coverage of the sun.

 Here is the beginning of the eclipse, through the viewfinder of the telescope above.  Thanks Tony, for being kind enough to allow me to take pictures through your telescope!

 And here again, the sun about 1/2 covered...

I just loved this tube viewer!  Perhaps I'll put a piece of photo paper in there and take a picture of the next eclipse, in 2017!

I didn't even shout or whoop over my excitement, like Bill Nye did! (much to the relief of the kids)

 My dad (an amateur astronomer himself) discovered these eclipse images on the walls of his house!  The "pinholes" were holes in the leaves, and spaces between the leaves, of the trees, situated between the sun and his house.    Beautiful!!!!

 One more peak before the sun went down below the horizon.

At our location, we saw 87% coverage of the sun.  We did notice that the sunlight dimmed considerably, especially for how high it was in the sky.  There was a greenish cast to the light, as well.  Delightfully spooky!

Did you experience the eclipse where you live?  What was it like?

Here are the instructions to making our pinhole viewers:

1 comment:

  1. Very VERY cool! We missed on the eclipse (due to a kid falling off the dock and us having to pull him out) but I'm glad we were able to see it through your post! Next time, we're making the pinhole viewers!! :)