Partial Solar Eclipse — from Calgary

By: Alan Dyer

May 21 2012

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Category: Eclipses & Transits, Solar System

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Focal Length:50mm
ISO:100
Shutter:1/250 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 60D

This was the first significant solar eclipse in many years that I did not travel to. For the May 20, 2012 eclipse I was content to stay at home on the sidelines and take in the partial eclipse of the Sun.

From Calgary, the Moon covered about 62% of the Sun at mid-eclipse, which this shot captures, taken at maximum eclipse for us. Here, a big sunspot group is just being uncovered by the passing Moon. Having lots of spots on the Sun this day made the partial eclipse all the more interesting, though still no comparison to the annular eclipse visible over the spectacular landscapes of the southwestern U.S.

I would have been there, in the Moon’s ant-umbral shadow, had it not been for the fact that at home I am very much involved in the opening of a new planetarium and digital dome theatre at the science centre, TELUS Spark, where I work. This is a milestone event in one’s life, one I’ve had the privilege of experiencing twice before, in 1984 in Edmonton with the opening of its new science centre and planetarium, and in 1996 when we converted the old Calgary Centennial Planetarium into a then state-of-the-art tilt-dome theatre. Oddly coincidental, I missed seeing the May 15, 1984 annular eclipse in the SE United States due to the imminent opening of the Edmonton theatre. History repeats itself — a Saros cycle of science centres perhaps?

For this eclipse we conducted a public viewing session and managed to grab excellent views once clouds cleared away before mid-eclipse. Eclipse anxiety was running high leading up to and through the initial minutes of the eclipse as it looked like clouds were going to skunk us. But wonder of wonders, the sky cleared and the eclipsed Sun was revealed, to my great relief. Missing the annular eclipse is bad enough; I didn’t want to miss the partial eclipse, too!

Now, we just need clear skies on June 5 for the transit of Venus.

— Alan, May 20, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer

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