|Luis Argüelles' Report|
total eclipses are probably the most awesome observing experience for
events happening in the solar system, but annular eclipses are really
Weather forecastings were right and at 9:30 local time the sky was completely cloudless, so we all were really excited and with all the observing equipment ready, ranging from binoculars, small telescopes (two of them equipped with H-Alpha filters), solar-sun glasses and video-cameras (my case).
By the way, the Coronado’s Personal Solar Telescope (PST) is a terrific tool for solar observing. Richard Mallet from the UK arrived with his recently bought PST and I only can say that I’m going to buy one!. We used it not only for the annular eclipse, but also for observing the sun on the previous days, noting a lot of flares (sadly there were no sun spots on the sun’s surface). We took also some pictures of the sun through it (not easy to do, the PST is more oriented towards visual observing) and after downloading the pictures on Bob’s laptop, I had the pleasure to process the images and then make a rough estimate of the biggest captured flare: about 50,000 km. We were really impressed.
For the eclipse, we quickly noted how different the sun light was. Even when the sun was about 25% blocked, the change of light was subtle but evident, developing in a completely “apocalyptic” light at the moment of annularity. For changes in light levels, I took several pictures of the grass (always the same target and camera settings) with a digital camera. Since the exposure time is recorded in every digital image, a light curve shouldn’t be hard to obtain, although I must recognize that, driven for the emotion of the event, I was not very “scientific”, taking the pictures at irregular intervals.
My observing instrument was simply a Hi8, 7 years old videocamera equipped with a Baader Solar-Film filter mounted over a sturdy Manfrotto tripod and a set of solar eclipse glasses. While the images from the black and white viewfinder were the worst ones of all the observing instruments at play, at 20x, the sun covers almost the entire field of view and the images are really nice to see on the TV screen. In my experience (partial eclipse from 1999, this one and two Moon eclipses), a videocamera with at least a 15x zoom (optical, digital zoom is only a marketing strategy) is a really versatile instrument, because you can comment with your voice your experiences, that is, the camera becomes also a voice notepad, recording at the same time the comments from the attendants, thus registering the “ambience” of the event, and finally, after storing the video-images on a DVD, you can pass the experience to everybody.
The drop in temperature was also noticeable as the eclipse went into its annularity phase. I reckon that we started at 9C in the first contact and dropped to 5C at annularity. The feeling was of a really chilly autumn morning.
Another observing fact was very interesting to note. Several months before the eclipse I made some simulations of it with an astronomical, planetary-type software, observing that we wouldn’t get a perfect annularity (that is, a complete concentric Moon blocking the Sun). We would get a slight eccentricity, but for logistics reasons we accepted that handicap. However, looking through Peter and Maria Jesus’ 10x50 Pentax Binoculars mounted over a sturdy tripod equipped also with a Baader Filter, I observed almost perfect concentricity in the eclipse. Bottom line: When precision needs to be in the arcseconds scale, some astronomical software can be not precise enough.
Click Here to read about the
performed Eclipse Photometry
From left to right, Luis, Pepe and Richard enjoy at the "El Torreon" restaurant in their trip to Pozal de Gallinas
Peter reads something about solar observing at the Hotel's terraze just after arriving the hotel
Bob checks the Sun's image through Pepe's APO 4" refractor
John claiming things, as usually :)
Maria Jesus and Pepe, at dinner on saturday night
Keiko drinking not Sake but a "chupito". About 50 degrees alcohol. Cheers!
"Castillo de la Mota" Castle not far from the Hotel. There are more things in life aside Astronomy and food!
Tim adjusts the PST in order to get the maximum from that nice observing instrument
The eclipse has begun. From left to right: Tim, Paolo, Bob, John and Pepe
This picture shows rather well the light available when the eclipse was at its maximum
The Hotel's dogs attended also
Pepe observing the eclipse through Peter and Mª Jesus' Binos
Eclipse sequence taken by José Fernandez (Pepe) using a Nikon FM2 camera and Fuji Provia Film
First contact and maximum taken by Tim Leese using a Soligor 400m telephoto lens and digital camera
taken by Bob
Hogeveen using a Swarovsky telescope and digital camera
H-Alpha image taken by John Ryan using a Zeiss Telementor scope and digital camera
Yours truly (Luis Argüelles)
Cristina, the Hotel's receptionist, also enjoyed the eclipse. She arranged everything for us. Thanks a lot, Cris.
The Official Picture: Peter, Luis, Richard, Pepe, Maria Jesus, Paolo, Bob, John, Tim and Keiko