Monthly Science: Solar Eclipse 2017

An hour before the festivities started, I lashed together an official NASA-approved pinhole eclipse viewer from available materials:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - pinhole projector

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – pinhole projector

Although the solar disk showed up fine on the white paper screen, the Pixel’s camera can’t show the notch growing on the left side, even with HDR+ mode in full effect:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - pinhole projector - interior

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – pinhole projector – interior

As usual for astronomy around here, clouds threatened the outcome:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - high clouds

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – high clouds

Near the maximum, the skies cleared:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - maximum - lens flare

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – maximum – lens flare

Although it’s not proof, there’s a definite bite out of the lens flare at about 4 o’clock:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - maximum - lens flare - detail

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – maximum – lens flare – detail

The maples south of the driveway produced lower-contrast images better suited to silicon sensors:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - maximum - shadows

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – maximum – shadows

And, although everyone was specifically enjoined not to do this, because UV reflection = blindness, the obligatory solar eclipse selfie:

Eclipse 2017-08-21 - obligatory selfie

Eclipse 2017-08-21 – obligatory selfie

I’m sure similar lens flares count as UFOs in someone’s telling of the tale.

We planned to dance naked in the yard, but our neighbor’s lawn crew picked that moment to scalp his grass and we chose discretion over valor …

  1. #1 by Daniel B. Martin on 2017-09-01 - 08:27

    In retrospect, Amazon missed an opportunity. During the 60 days prior to the eclipse they could have tucked an instruction sheet into every small box. The sheet would give instructions (with diagrams) for making a camera obscura such as you did.

    Maybe Amazon had that idea but their lawyers nixed it.

    • #2 by Ed on 2017-09-01 - 10:47

      They recalled a metric shitload of counterfeit / defective / under-spec “eclipse glasses”, so IMO they were painfully aware of the liability.

  2. #3 by madbodger on 2017-09-01 - 11:31

    I bodged together a solar viewer from a cheap telescope, a surplus CCTV lense, and cardboard. It worked surprisingly well. The Makedo (cardboard construction tools) people featured it on their instagram page:

    • #4 by RCPete on 2017-09-02 - 00:16

      I did a field expedient with a pinhole in some dark paper and my palm as the screen. Results were “meh” on the awesome scale. I did remember an eclipse viewer from my gradeschool days, but didn’t have a handy large cardboard box. We used that design for a decent partial eclipse in the early ’60s. The tiny box design is new to me.

      Our dogs were a bit confused by the eclipse (we were at the 90% point at peak), the air was quite cool (highish elevation and low humidity), and the solar system monitor graph showed a rather impressive falloff in available photocurrent for the event. I wasn’t going to brave the crowds in back-country Oregon for totality; I know our back roads, and the backups were phenomenal.

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