I love an eclipse.
The feature I love most is that we talk it up and then tell people not to look. Properly paying attention to an eclipse requires discipline. In our media-saturated, spectacle hungry world, that doesn’t happen very often.
Sunday evening’s annular eclipse will present an obscured sun with a bright “ring of fire” around the outside edge for those in the prime viewing area. The moon is a bit distant from the earth right now (wasn’t it just SUPER?) so its disc won’t cover the sun completely.
For we Minnesotans, there’s a chance we’ll get a view of a partially covered sun at sunset. This nifty animation from NASA shows how the moon shadow will cross the earth from West to East, with the “ring of fire” viewing area represented by the startling red dot that makes a quick entrance at daybreak over Asia, lingers longest just south of the Aleutians, and zooms eastward at sunset over the USA. I expect to see plenty of cool photos Monday morning.
Here in the upper midwest I think that means we’ll get a Sunday sunset missing a chunk, assuming the clouds let us see it. But remember, don’t look! Use the camera obscura technique, projecting the image on a viewable surface. To help you remember not to look, here’s a little warning poem.
Don’t look directly at the sun
Whilst it becomes eclipsed
A pinhole camera shows it
as a backwards crescent, flipsed.
If you don’t have the time or interest to make a pinhole camera, find a leafy tree placed between a low western horizon and a blank wall. Apparently spaces between leaves work effectively as pinhole cameras, casting lots of tiny eclipse images. You might get something like this.
Images of the sun during a solar eclipse through the leaves of a tree. October 3, 2005, St Juliens, Malta
Or we could just get a cloudy western sky and a gloomy sunset. Don’t get your hopes up, but don’t get your eyeballs fried. Seriously. Avoid looking directly at it.
Name something you really cannot bear to watch.