The Babylon 5 Collection
Eclipses are one of my favorite astronomical events. They take me back to a time when people believed that the gods took the sun and then gave it back because of sacrifices or prayers. Experiencing an eclipse live takes me right down to my primal fear levels even though I have plenty of scientific knowledge about the event. What a thrill when the gods hear our pleas and return the "life giver" to us once again.
Here are four images of two different eclipses. The first one was a partial eclipse seen here in Washington state, the other three images are from the incredible "once a century" eclipse in La Paz, Mexico. I get chills just looking at them and it is so exciting to see them on the Babylon Station. I hope you have a chance to observe an eclipse. If you do, be sure and appease the Sun Gods or you may never be warm again.
Skyhook is an eclipse that I shot at the 1989 Table Mountain Star Party near Wenatchee, Washington. The Sun and Moon were setting together behind the Stewart Range. This image hangs in Ivanova's quarters... most of the time.
Taken July 11, 1991 in La Paz, Mexico, the event that produced the photo opportunity for Inner Corona was the eclipse of the century, and is often referred to as "The Big One." The reason for this reference is related to the fact that this was a near optimum event, it was a 100% event that lasted within a few seconds of the longest possible time for an eclipse. Being there, was one of the great moments in my life. There is an emotional response that happens when the sun disappears in "broad daylight" that is unlike any other emotion a person generally has. A mixture of awe, fear, insignificance, dependence, joy and exhilaration that prompts tears, trembling, silence and shouts of emotional relief from hundreds of educated, science oriented, civilized human beings, all in the course of just a few minutes. And the chickens do crow as the sun reemerges... hey, we all did.
Also from the La Paz event, Corona Galore shows the Sun's full corona during "totality," the maximum eclipse. The actual print has subtle variations in the corona that simply are not viewable on a video/computer display due to the differences in the mediums.
The full corona is a spectacular sight that can only be fully viewed and appreciated through the use of some sort of image capture medium. I used a long exposure for this image in order to capture all of the detail available on the negative; considerable darkroom expertise is required to bring that information out in the prints.
The phenomenon known as "The Diamond Ring"occurs only at the instant that the Sun begins emerging from behind the Moon's disk, it lasts only for a scant few seconds. This fleeting event requires precise timing on the part of the photographer, too soon or too late and all I'm left with is a nice try.
There are a couple of very unique aspects to this image. The first is the appearance of a large solar flare dubbed "The Seahorse" for obvious reasons. The second, not quite so obvious, especially in this small version, but seen quite readily in the display image, is the rough or wavy look at the edge of the Moon's disk just about in the center of the Diamond Ring. This unevenness is caused by the sunlight passing over the edge of mountains on the Moon.
Did you know that the surface of the sun is only 10,000 degrees F. while the corona is over a million and even though it only takes light 8 minutes to go from the sun's surface to the Earth, it takes a million years for light to get from the center of the sun to its surface?
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Updated April, 2004
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