Saturday, May 26, 2012

Solar Eclipse / Another Use for Sketchbooks

The computer image above is a little something I did to show how last Sunday's solar eclipse went where I live. I went to a street by a friend's house where he, his daughter, some curious neighbors and I took turns observing the eclipse through his welder's mask. I showed how an eclipse can be viewed using two pieces of cardboard. A pinhole is made in one piece of cardboard and the image shown through that onto the other piece of cardboard where the eclipse appears upside-down. That's another way to view the eclipse without injuring your eyes.

Observing an eclipse is more than just seeing the changes in the apparent shape of the sun. It's also seeing the change of lighting on the landscape around you, feeling the drop in temperature, and noticing the unusual stillness that settles in the air during the peak of eclipse. Eclipses are just so cool!

I wrote about sketching during a lunar eclipse here.

Last Sunday's eclipse reminded me of another partial eclipse I viewed a number of years ago. With my old '67 Plymouth Belvedere loaded with camping gear, sketching supplies and water, I traveled to a desert canyon in Southern Utah. Parking at the trail head, I backpacked into the canyon and made camp. (That was back before government bureaucrats put the kabosh on that sort of thing.) That day I explored and sketched. The next day I hiked up the canyon to a large panel of Indian rock art. There I flipped to an available page in my sketchbook, one that had colored pencil color studies. Using a needle from my sewing repair kit, I poked a tiny hole in that sketchbook page. That pinhole was then used to shine an image of the solar eclipse onto a flat rock there below the pictographs and petroglyphs on that towering red rock cliff. That's how I viewed the eclipse that day.

A page in my sketchbook used to view a solar eclipse.
A closeup of the pinhole and sketches showing the partial eclipse.
That day the solar eclipse eased the usually overbearing heat of the Southwest desert in summer. A man from Ohio (who now taught school on the Navajo Reservation) arrived with his view camera to photograph the rock art. I told him about the eclipse and showed him how I projected the image through the sketchbook page's pinhole onto the flat rock. He had not been aware of the eclipse and remarked,

"So that must be why it's not too hot today!"

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