Created: 02-05-2004
Last update: 02-05-2004

Back Previous Next

Elusive eclipses

Complaining to a colleague about having missed the lunar eclipse of 4th May 2004 due to heavy cloud cover, I heard he had seen the solar eclipse of 1999, which I'd also missed through heavy cloud cover and stupidly having travelled to the country where this cloud cover was a problem; I should have stayed in Belgium. It seems everyone saw the eclipse except me. The story of my failed expedition can be found here. Below are the photos that came closest to showing an eclipse in progress:

Here you can actually see the sun if you stare hard enough to make your eyes water. (It's shown again in the cutout, with a red circle around the sun.) You'll just have to take my word for it that the moon had already taken a nibble out of its upper right edge.

This is another if-you-stare-very-hard eclipse photo. The crescent is vaguely visible just above the rather inconveniently placed wire. It's indicated in the cutout by a red arrow nudging it in the back. (Thanks to JPG compression methods, the arrow bled colour into the rest of the pic.)

Take two: 6th May 2003 saw a new eclipse in the Netherlands. A partial eclipse, but still. The sun would rise with a moon blocking its top, making it the lying crescent of a cow's horns (hence, a "horned" sun) and as their paths diverged, become a vertical crescent, the morning sky darkening as more of it was obscured, and then free itself altogether. So I took a day off from work and got up very early to stand in the wet grass with a cheap digital camera seeing what I could get. A problem being that the camera lens was far more sensitive to light than I was, so that the photos were very different from what I saw.

This first announcement of sunrise my eyes may not even have caught, as the rising sun presented itself to me from the first moment as a lying red crescent.

More like what I saw, but bright and white instead of thin and red.

By now the crescent was righting itself and turning white. The photograph shows it as almost circular.

And now it is a circle, although to my eyes it was still a crescent.

Even the pictures taken through the eclipse sunglasses showed it as almost round.

Still a circle, although I clearly saw a crescent...

I would have erased the photos as useless if I hadn't seen this small shadow beginning to form.

Yes! A partial eclipse as seen through the camera.

In fact, the camera was fooled into thinking it was a complete eclipse. Who was it that said "the camera never lies"?

Back Previous Next