Monday, August 21, 2017

Unusual shadows from a partial solar eclipse

Today has been an interesting day. On Mondays, I've been volunteering with my favourite L'Arche friends, helping with their community garden plot. This morning (after an interesting session with a library lady that I'll moodle about tomorrow) a few of us had a lovely walk to pick some tomatoes, and as we strolled back to the Community Centre, I couldn't help noticing that the sun was less bright than usual thanks to the partial solar eclipse which covered 70% of the sun here in Edmonton.

When we returned shortly after eleven, I quickly made my own very basic pinhole camera with two pieces of paper, and a few of us went outside to check the eclipse's progress. One of my colleagues had made a more impressive pinhole camera from a cardboard box, and it worked better than my two pieces of paper. Then I discovered that if you hold your hands a certain way, you can see the eclipse reflected on the pavement through your fingers. My friends didn't believe me at first, but it was true!
Then some of the staff from the local Daycare appeared with welder's masks, and all our low tech viewing tools were forgotten. What could be better than seeing a partial eclipse with your own eyes? We basically mobbed the daycare people so we could all have a peek through the dark glass of the masks, and they were more than happy to share. It was pretty neat to see the moon covering 70% of the sun with our own eyes (but I still liked the crescent pattern through my fingers the best).

I decided to bike home in a hurry to share the moment with my daughter, and noticed that the dappled light through the trees was making crescent-shapes on the park bike path. And sure enough, when I got home, the shadows under our pear tree held many crescents.

Not sure I'll ever see this so clearly again in my lifetime. It's kind of amazing, when you really think about it!

Solar eclipse shadows at 11:53 am, with the moon still covering 54% of the sun

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