June 10th, 2002

caillebotte_man at his window

Adventure!

The experience of visiting a Best Buy store might be old for other people, but my visit to that emporium of electronic semi-marvels last Friday was my first, and, now that I've had some time to think on the matter, I find that I must post something about it. Indeed, I'm not sure that I have entirely recovered from the dazed state in which my exposure to contemporary retailing left me, but I'll do my best to report the events of the day in as coherent a manner as possible. And, since the length of the post is apt to be great, I'll put it behind a cut.

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caillebotte_man at his window

Annular Eclipse of the Sun.

Late spring is a time of cool nights when the Milky Way can be seen across the sky like a fine dusting of icy blue crystals. It is especially noticeable tonight, when the new moon is on the other side of the world. This evening, (June 10th, here, and June 11th across the date line,) will be the annular eclipse. The path of the eclipse will be primarily across the Pacific Ocean, and the only bit of land from which it will be visible at its maximum will be a small patch of western Mexico around Cabo Corrientes.

But partial coverage will be visible from many parts of the United States. 80% percent coverage of the sun will be seen in San Diego, and almost as much in Los Angeles. Here in Butte County, we will see about 65% coverage. Since maximum coverage will be at about 6:15 PM local time, the sun should still be high enough that I'll get a decent view, before it descends behind the trees. I have been told that the foliage of trees acts very much like a pinhole projector (a hole in a piece of cardboard, through which the sun's light is projected onto a surface for safe viewing.) With all the trees around here, there is a chance that, for a while, the streets will be covered with little crescents of light. If it happens, I'll try to get a picture of it- although, given the crappiness of my camera, I can't promise anything. This will be the closest to complete coverage of the sun that I have ever seen in an eclipse. There is a very good chance that it won't cloud up here this evening! Now, I only need to remember to go out and look. Remind me to remind myself.
caillebotte_man at his window

After the Eclipse

Well, that was interesting. The day grew noticeably dimmer, and everything had a soft, pleasant look. The shadows were all bit blurry. There weren't any crescents of light on the street, but some did form on the wall of the house, in the shade of the mulberry tree. I got a couple of pictures (on film, so they won't be available for a while.) I put about a dozen holes in a piece of cardboard, using a hole punch, and took a couple more pictures of the rows of little crescent lights it projected onto the wall. They were small, but I'm hoping that the large size of pictures I get on the CDs will allow me to crop, and still come up with a decent image.

It wasn't until after the eclipse had passed its peak that I remembered that a pair of binoculars could be used to project an image of the sun. By that time, it was descending behind the trees, and the shapes were indistinct. I took one picture of the light projected through the binoculars onto my own shadow, though. I don't know if it will turn out, since I had a hard time holding them steady. Anyway, even though only about 65% of the sun was covered, it was still an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon. I find myself wishing that the earth had more moons, so we could see eclipses more often.