Monday, May 21, 2012

SF- solar eclipse

Here in the Bay Area, we got about 90% of the eclipse.  You had to go a few hours north to get the whole thing, but it was still a really cool effect here and turned into a fun little social event.  We went up to the track where there is a good view to the west.  It was not all that exciting at first, beyond the initial neatness of seeing the sun reflected on a piece of paper with a crescent eaten out of it.  You really wanted to look right at the sun and see it, but we all know that is not a good idea.  There were not that many people there at first, but as we got closer to the peak moment, more and more people showed up.  One guy had built a really nice viewer out of two shpping tubes and a box.  He leaned it up against the bleachers and you could see the sun almost an inch high reflected on the cardboard box at its base.

But the show really amped up when everybody realized how it was making crescents out of everywhere where the light was filtered by a shadow, especially in the dappled shadows of leaves.  At its peak, it made the edges of one's own shadow slightly warped and curvy and that coupled with the strange dim light gave the whole evening a magical air.  People were dancing to their shadows and playing with the reflections on their clothes.  After a while, if you stared at the crescents in the shadow of the tree, they started to have a 3-D effect and pop out, like little hillsides on a map or a crowd of ghostly hooded figures.  It was pretty cool.  When we were leaving, we ran into a guy who had a piece of welder's glass and we were able to look directly at the sun through it and see the eclipse directly, which ended the whole event perfectly.

There are some higher-res photos of the ghostly crescents at the bottom of the page that I took with my phone that may give a better sense of it.

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