Friday, November 25, 2011

Eclipse Pole 2011

Thanksgiving dinner was great.  It is Saturday, local time, Nov. 26th.  Yesterday was the Solar Eclipse visible only from the "bottom of the world".  The morning started with about half the winds of the night before (previous post) i.e. 9 to 10 knots.  The sky was slightly overcast but the sun was still casting sharp shadows so I was optimistic about still having a good eclipse viewing party in the galley.  However, as the day went on, the clouds got thicker and thicker.  Julie and I went out to visit the Icecube project facility and I was doubtful.  But we looked at the sun and the clouds made a nice filter where we could actually look at it and see a very fine sharp boundary for the disk of the sun.  So I knew we could at least see the eclipse but not the sunspots if I get the binocular projection system working.

We came inside a bit before 4PM and I rested for awhile after the walk in heavy gear (still -20F with a
-44 wind chill) and to be ready for the eclipse party.  By 5PM, the sky was almost completely clear.  Stan had finished the adapter for the binoculars and tripod and with a quick check I knew we had a good tool for safely viewing the eclipse.  And it was.  My pin hole projection box was completely upstaged by being able to look at a sheet of paper behind the binoculars and see a projected image of the sun, complete with sunspots (those dark spots on the picture, running from side to side).

I ate dinner and was set up for 6:30 and quite a few people (total of 80 on the station, 30 or more came by) taking pictures of the projected images.  A few had cameras and were taking shots directly, from the windows.  Looking out to see if the sky was getting any darker, we saw quite a few people going out to the Pole markers for pictures (stay tuned for mine).  We could barely detect a change in brightness; mostly the contrast of the snowy terrain seen looking through the tinted windows of the galley was our only indicator that the amount of light had changed.  It gave the landscape a very lunar like appearance.

All in all the public service program was a success.  And yes, we are allowed (even expected) to do these types of things as part of the job.  A sequence of shots of the eclipse are in the album. (Click Here).

In case you want to confirm that those are sunspots check the  nasa SOHO image for the day:

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