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Annular Solar Eclipse

December 14, 2001

Partial Eclipse 2001

pe01dec14d.jpg (28202 bytes)It was clear here in Dallas, TX, so I took my Meade 2045 4-inch Schmitt-Cassegrain telescope out into the front yard, which has a better tree line, threw on the solar filter, and shot a few pix.  I had almost forgotten about the thing, when I heard an announcement on the radio mentioning that the eclipse was taking place this afternoon. So I rushed to the drug store, bought a roll of Kodak 100 negative film, and went to work. 

The eclipse had already begun by the time I got set up, so I made no attempt to shoot a series of photos. But I got a nice shot while the event was well underway, about 3:35 PM CST, and another right around eclipse maximum from my location, about 3:55 PM CST. If you look at the two photos carefully, you can easily see the change in relative size of the lunar bite out of the face of the sun. Look even more closely, and you can see that some of the sunspot groups visible in the first shot are covered up in the second shot.

During my observing session at the telescope, some workmen across the street working on my neighbor's house noticed that I had set up my equipment, and asked for a look. Naturally, I was glad to share, and both men were quite impressed. They even knew something about astronomy and had some friends with telescopes. It is amazing how widespread an interest in astronomy is. As one of the men said, "It's a neat hobby!"

By 4:00 PM CST, long before the end of the eclipse, the sun slipped behind the trees surrounding my yard. So I took another shot, just to be "artistic."

The extent of maximum eclipse was about 35% here in Dallas. At least, that is what the radio said. I decided to accept that. It also said that maximum eclipse was about 3:55 PM local time (CST). That seems to agree with my book.

According to my RASC 2001 Handbook, this was an annular eclipse, and you could have observed totality in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Ed Flaspoehler, President
American Association of Amateur Astronomers

Annular Eclipse
December 14, 2001

P1 18:03:20.7 UT
P2 20:34:22.2 UT
P3 21:09:39.9 UT
P4 23:40:41.8 UT

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon is positioned between the sun and the Earth. The moon then casts a shadow on the Earth's surface, and also obscures the solar disk.

During a total eclipse, the moon's dark inner shadow, called the umbra, strikes the Earth. During a partial eclipse, only the fainter outer shadow, called the penumbra, strikes the Earth.

A full solar eclipse can cause brief, localized darkness, but during a partial eclipse, only a slight dimming of sunlight during maximum eclipse will be perceptible.

At maximum eclipse, the solar disk will resemble a cookie with a hearty bite taken out of one side.

Safe Eclipse Observing

This is a perfect opportunity to use that telescope you got for Christmas last year, as long as you make sure you have that that new solar filter in place for your viewing

The American Optometric Association warns skywatchers not to look directly at the eclipsed sun. "Looking at the solar eclipse without proper protection can result in serious eye damage," the association warns in a statement. To view the eclipse, the experts recommend special equipment, such as a welder's lens, a pinhole camera, or other indirect viewing equipment.

 Looking at the sun directly without proper protection  is dangerous and can permanently damage your eyesight.

Observing the Partial Solar Eclipse of December 14, 2001

Dallas, Texas

3:35 PM CST

3:55 PM CST

In the Trees: 4:05 PM CST

Eclipse images shot with an Olympus OM-1 camera using Kodak 100 print film. The camera was mounted on a Meade 2045 4-inch Schmitt-Cassegrain telescope equipped with a Thousand Oaks solar filter. 1/60-sec exposure. A 2x teleconverter was used to increase image size on the film. 

The negatives were developed at the local Eckerds drugstore. 

JPG images were scanned from the prints using an HP PhotoSmart scanner.

Eclipse Projections

I took the above photo with my JVC camcorder in the still photo mode of the projections of the sun at maximum partial eclipse onto closet doors as the sunlight passed through the small openings along the edges of the closed slats in my bedroom window shutters.

John Pogue
Grand Prairie TX

Northern California

We were very lucky to have the rain go away and clouds thin out during the Eclipse this noon.  Ours was not as deep in Berkeley, CA as you had in Texas.  But, I did manage to take a few photos (through my Pronto with the Olympus Digital 2000 camera) from my friend's garage, where I used to take my car to be fixed when I lived there.  All the workers and some of their wives came out to observe the partial eclipse and copious sunspots.  Many people had never seen either eclipse or sunspots through telescope.  It was an unusual place to have an instant Eclipsing Star party.  

I was particularly interested in the "Delphinus" cluster of sunspots! 

Isaac Kikawada
San Jose, CA


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