Friday, May 18, 2012

Staring at the sun - for fun!

Like many people in the southwestern/western U.S., I've been making preparations to (safely) stare at the sun for a few minutes during the upcoming weekend.

I am, of course, referring to the Annular Eclipse of May 20, 2012 that will cut a brief, darkened swath across much of the south to west of the U.S. on that day, mostly blocking out the sun from Texas to the Pacific coast.

Like many, I plan to place myself in the middle of the maximum portion of the eclipse where the moon's disk is predicted to be entirely within that of the sun's for a bit over 4 minutes while we stare through "sun-safe" filters, look at the images on the screens of cameras and makeshift camera obscuras and amuse ourselves with the varying shapes of shadows being cast on the ground during its various phases.

Here in Utah, only the south-west corner of the state will experience "totality" of the annular eclipse but some very good and remote locations are just a few hours away by car:  I'll throw a few pictures up here after it's done.

It should go without saying that unless one has purpose-specific lenses designed for direct viewing of the sun, NEVER look at the sun - or even a portion of the sun with the naked eye - or even really dark sunglasses.  Even though the sun will be "darker" during the eclipse, remember that instead of the normal "sun-shaped" burn that would appear on your retina, you'll get an "eclipse-shaped" burn instead, which isn't any good, either!


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