May 24, 2012

Osaka Eclipse

By pure luck and no planning on our part, we managed to be almost directly under the shadow of the moon during the eclipse on May 21. This was the first time for any of us in the house to be so close to the path of total occlusion, and a bit of mania overtook us as the moment of totality approached.

Using my father's recipe, we set up a pin-hole mirror to project the image onto a darkened wall.
A mirror is covered with paper in which a single hole (the aperture) has been punched. The reflection is aimed at a wall/screen in a dark corner of the same room.

The size of the hole dictates the focus of the image. Here, the lower image is the one coming from our one-hole-punch "pin-hole". It is out of focus and over-exposed because the hole is too large and too close to the wall/screen. The upper image is coming from a tiny crack between the covering paper and the edge of the mirror frame. The focus is much better, but the room is too bright to see it very well.

With more time to plan this, we could have set up multiple mirrors to direct the image to a much darker room. The word for "room" in Italian is, of course, "camera".

Outside in the garden, the camphor tree was doing a better job, making pin-holes with the gaps between its leaves.

We took quick glimpses of the full corona through a darkened piece of x-ray film, in direct contradiction of the warnings being broadcast on NHK at that very moment. Luckily, we had a doctor with us, although he was just as excited as we were.
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