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303-903-8996 or 575-758-3670
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"Under the Night Sky",
the astrophotographs.com newsletter!
Greiner's astrophotographs.com "Under the Night Sky"
Welcome to the
4th edition of astrophotographs.com newsletter! I hope you all are
prepared for Christmas -- those of you in North America will be
treated to a wonderful gift -- a partial eclipse of the Sun. As
noted in the December issue of Sky and Telescope Magazine:
be extra special this year. Weather permitting, people all across
North America will be able to watch the Moon glide across the low
December Sun, creating a partial solar eclipse. This event will
be visible throughout nearly all the inhabited parts of North America
(except Alaska and the Yukon), as well as from most of Mexico and
According to Sky
& Telescope Magazine, the eclipse takes place during early morning
in the Southwest and mountain states, during late morning or midday
in the central part of the continent, and during early afternoon
in the East. People in the northwestern U.S. and western Canada
will need to be up bright and early Christmas morning; the partial
eclipse will already be in progress when the Sun rises, a most dramatic
How deep the eclipse
will get also depends on where you are. As seen from California,
Mexico, and the Caribbean, the Sun will appear only slightly dented
at most. The eclipse will grow deeper, with the Sun turning into
a fat crescent, for the Northwest through the central states to
the Southeast. The narrowest, most dramatic crescent Sun awaits
Christmas skywatchers in the Upper Midwest, the Great Lakes region,
the Northeast, and all of eastern Canada. Here the light may be
dimmed enough to give the winter landscape a slightly eerie cast,
and winds may whip up as the partial loss of sunlight adds to the
The link to this informative
article and another primer on eclipses will be noted below. Please
click on them for extensive "coverage" of this event.
Of course, YOU MUST NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN, ECLIPSE OR NOT.
The way to see this eclipse is by using the pinhole projection method,
which is discussed in the Sky and Telescope article. Reviewing,
push a small and clean pinhole (NOT a large hole) into a piece of
light blocking thick cardboard or whatever. Allow the sunlight to
pass through this pinhole and thus be projected on another (best
would be clean and thick colored) posterboard or whatever. Try to
block extra ambient light from entering the room, just as you would
during a movie or slide show. The pinhole PROJECTS the image of
the sun onto the clean posterboard, just like an old brownie camera.
(Essentially the nice, clean small pinhole is the lens and the posterboard
is the film plane or optic nerve.) You'll be surprised at just how
nice an image this projects. You can try it before the Moon actually
takes a bite out of the Sun, but the projected image will just be
round, not "bitten into." This is the best and safest
method of viewing the eclipse; also, it turns out to be a great
Christmas family activity. Again, DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN,
EVEN FOR A MOMENT. YOU WILL PERMANENTLY DAMAGE YOUR EYES. Please
use the projection method described above.
My first eclipse was
viewed from Delaware in the early 1960's using the above method.
Also, I submitted a photograph of friends and members observing
this eclipse from Mt. Cuba, Delaware, site of the venerable Delaware
Astronomical Society's 12-inch reflecting telescope. This became
my first published photograph! (I only wish it was as easy to get
a photo published today -- perhaps I was just a better photographer
Have a wonderful holiday
season and a great New Year.
note: The link to the
Sky and Telescope article quoted above is no longer available
-- but new upcoming eclipse information can be accessed from the
general site as linked here: http://skyandtelescope.com/
is Fred Espenak's excellent page of "Eclipse Information For
Beginners" which covers a very wide variety of general and
specific eclipse data.
Contact us at 303.903.9886
All images and
narratives copyright Willis Greiner, all rights reserved.
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