Monday, May 21, 2012

Solar Eclipse

Yesterday my brother and I went to the California Academy of Sciences to see what kinds of solar eclipse goings-on were going on. We almost talked ourselves out of it.

Bro: So do you have any protective eyewear? How were you thinking of seeing it?

Me: I was just going to poke a hole in a card and project it.

Bro: Oh.

Me: You can also just look at shadows from trees.

Bro: I see.

Looking at a spot of light the size of a pinhole wasn't sounding too exciting. I was also hoping to take pictures, but after reading photography tips online I realized it was too technical for my limited skills. And cameras don't like to look directly at the sun, either.

We went anyway, with my homemade pinhole in tow. Along the way we saw a few drunken party-goers from the morning's Bay-to-Breakers milling around, trying to look directly at the sun using all the tricks listed under "Unsafe Ways to View the Eclipse." There were lots of sunglasses stacked together, lots of attempts to peer through empty beer bottles.

It turned out the steps in front of the Cal Academy were packed with amateur astronomers like us. Some more advanced amateurs had brought their own fancy telescopes, or made them out of FedEx tubes and aluminum foil. We made eclipse-shaped shadows on the ground with our fingers, snapped photos of other people's telescope images, tripped over dogs.

It was just as cool as the last eclipse I saw, in 1984. The actual image you see is just a crescent of light, even if the cause is cosmically spectacular. I remember it being brilliantly fascinating to me in fourth grade, before my child-like wonder was muted by decades of human wear and tear. But I'm happy to report that apparently, the child-me is still alive and kicking. Check out the neat-o photos I took.

The eclipse seen through the pin hole I made all by myself

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