Eclipse viewing in Seattle

There’s a partial eclipse starting in about ten minutes, and wonder of wonders, it has cleared up in Seattle! I didn’t expect this would happen so I didn’t bring any eclipse-viewing equipment with me. That means it’s time to improvise. (Click for a larger image.)

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I’ve put a pair of binoculars facing the sun on my desk on a notebook, masked one of the lenses with a post-it note, and propped it up with a box of business cards. By rotating the notebook I can follow the sun, and by rotating the corner of the box on the left side and keeping the corner on the right side fixed, I can very slightly adjust the height. Since the sun moves left-to-right much faster than up-and-down at 1:40 in the afternoon, that’s handy. I then focus the image on the wall.

I’ll keep posting images as the eclipse continues this afternoon, as long as those clouds hold back!

UPDATE: It begins! The blurry dark bit is a sunspot.

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UPDATE: NOOOOOOO

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That’s a big cloud. This might be done just as it was getting started. Vexing!

UPDATE:YAAAAAY!

The sun peeked out a few minutes before maximum eclipse, and then disappeared again:

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For comparison, here’s an image from the Griffith Observatory shot at the same time:

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This image shot through a telescope is of course inverted compared to mine shot with binoculars. Notice that the sunspot that is just a blur in my images is sharp here. Also, since Los Angeles is quite a ways south of Seattle, the percentage of the sun’s disk covered at maximum eclipse is quite different.

And of course, ten minutes after the eclipse ended the sun came out in the most dramatic possible fashion:

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while it was still pouring rain in the east:

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I picked the wrong day to leave my good camera at home!

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8 thoughts on “Eclipse viewing in Seattle

    • Well, gallileo got images of sunspots and his telescope was pretty small. I usually see them when imaging the sun, but then I usually have a tripod and better ability to focus!

  1. I remember seeing a full solar eclipse when I was in 4th grade. My Dad gave me his welding helmet and I used that to look at the eclipse. Not sure if it was “safe” or not, but stared straight at it for probably 10 minutes without any noticeable side effects. It was an experience I won’t ever forget.

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