While some people travel far and wide to see such an event, Ben and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. (This is kind of a theme for us.) We knew the solar eclipse was taking place on May 20th, but we didn’t realize that our Albuquerque parking spot would be smack dab in the line of view! In fact, we didn’t realize it until that morning, when Ben pulled up a NASA map and we saw the following:
Score! We’d be able to see the eclipse… and right from the bus! The moon was to begin to overlap the sun at around 6:30 p.m., so during the afternoon I made a last-minute attempt to get some viewing glasses (you need these to be able to see it at all.). This was a failed attempt, but luckily, some of the folks in our viewing group at the RV park had some glasses they let us use. Ben also set up to photograph the eclipse, and it’s his image I’m posting below. I didn’t have a long enough lens, and instead of trying to shoot it and getting something mediocre, I decided to just enjoy it and let Ben do the shooting.
In order to photograph the eclipse, you need an extremely dark filter on top of your lens. The filter causes the sun to be exposed properly instead of being blown out to white. As a result of this, the rest of the sky becomes pretty much black. This is the same thing the solar glasses (or eclipse viewing glasses) do.
At 6:30, when the moon started to move in front of the sun, everyone was out in our RV park. There were folks with glasses, cameras and even big honkin’ telescopes! And what an amazing sight! You could gradually watch the sun become more and more obstructed until you got the “ring of fire,” the shot that every photographer wants in their collection. When the moon was perfectly centered in front of the sun, the light obviously changed here on our part of Earth. It looked as if the sun had just set, even though it was still high in the sky. Minutes later, as the moon continued moving and the ring of fire was no longer a ring, it gradually started getting lighter again. How crazy cool!
Well, that’s enough astronomical excitement for now. More to come…