An annual solar eclipse doesn't happen all that often but on May 20, 2012 it happened to fall on the same day as one of my favorite Bay Area California events: Bay to Breakers (B2B). B2B is a race from one end of the SF Bay to the other end of SF by the Ocean (thus "Bay" to "Breakers"). While a number of people actually run the race, the real fun is for all the non-runners who dress up in costumes, have a couple drinks, and then just have one big massive party as they walk the course (usually not getting to the end). Instead of skipping B2B and driving up to Tahoe or Reno to witness the full annual eclipse, I decided to compromise and did both.
My group of friends decided to dress as American Gladiators. Our costumes turned out great and I had an absolute blast. Unfortunately, we had so much fun that I didn't get home until 5:15pm -- right when the annual solar eclipse was starting! I changed out of my costume, grabbed my gear, and raced to the Stanford Dish, which is both a hiking trail and a giant Satellite Dish that a number of small satellites communicate with. The hike is paved, wide open, and a bit higher in elevation. I figured I'd get a good view of the sun from there.
When I arrived I had planned on hiking to the highest point on the hike. As soon as I went up the first big hill I noticed a very large group of people viewing the eclipse from right there. Not only was the spot good enough, but it also had a perfect view of "The Dish". I figured I could get a photo of the eclipse and blend it in with a photo of The Dish (I later decided perhaps I won't cheat and do this). I setup shop and started snapping away.
To get this shot I had to buy a special Solar Filter for my camera -- essentially a really dark cover for the camera -- so that I didn't fry my sensor. It pretty much kills all light and only lets the sun in, so all I saw with the sun and a bunch of black. At the same time as buying the filter, I picked up a bunch of 99cent solar glasses for viewing with your eye. I brought a couple with me in case people would appreciate sharing. Turns out I was right -- by the end of the evening I had a large group of new friends that were all huddled around me, sharing the solar glasses or looking at the photos through my camera. Eventually I just left the camera on LiveView as my intervalometer clicked away photos every 20 seconds.
I put them 11 photos together onto one image to show you how the 90% of the moon covered the sun! I met a number of really wonderful people today. It was so fun to share the solar glasses and the photos from my camera with all of you. I hope your children also have a renewed excitement for science education!
Nikon D300s w/Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8G ED AF-S:
200mm, f/5, 1/60 sec sec, ISO 400
11 photos combined in Photoshop CS5