Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Solar Eclipse

Metal orca artwork at McMurdo below the eclipse.

The solar eclipse was February 6th, 2008. Unfortunately, the eclipse was a little bit of a let down for me. I was given the wrong time so I ended up cutting out of work for a little too long to see it. Of course, enjoying a day outside is almost always better than being at work. Also, if you didn't know there was an eclipse, you would have gone about your day and been none the wiser because the amount of sun light didn't seem to fade. A total eclipse that would have visually darkened the ambient light happened around eighty miles away on the mainland.

Unloading the American Tern.

There were a couple pretty cool things about the eclipse though too. It showed me just how much of an astronomer geek my friend William is. He explained that the total eclipse in 1991 above San Jose del Cabo, Baja California put it on the map because it was one of the 'Big Ones' that resulted in a maximum type corona (not really sure what that means). They built resorts and amenities based on the expectation that people would come for the eclipse. He was one of those original visitors who had planned their trip for years. Those visitors haven't stopped visiting.

The orca had a glint in its eye, I thought he was coming for me . . .

The other neat happening from the eclipse was that South Pole station recorded a record low temperature for that day of the year. The sun being partially obscured for under an hour caused temperatures to drop. I didn't feel a thing at McMurdo, but cold is cold to me. While trying to view the eclipse, we tried lots of tricks. We tried putting a pin hole in paper like they taught us in grade school. We tried the naked eye. We tried sunglasses. Our best solution seemd to be two to three pairs of sunglasses. Otherwise, the sun was too bright to make out anything. However, near the end someone showed up with a welding helmet. Way better than the sunglasses. Forget the grade school tricks, go make friends with a welder to watch your next eclipse.

The eclipse viewed through a welding helmet.

1 comment:

  1. wow, planning years for a glimpse of a solar eclipse? i guess we better get planning for the 2010 opympics in vancouver! :-D

    i called roff johannson tonight and we chatted for like 15 minutes. he wants to get in touch with you so i'm going to email him your contact info and website. :-)