20 May, 2012 Annular Solar Eclipse

20 May, 2012 Annular Solar Eclipse

Second chase season in a row that chase partner John Moore and I included a non-chase, but still scientific endeavor on the way out to chase after leaving Phoenix!

Back in 2009, we stopped and checked out the really cool Very Large Array radio telescope in central New Mexico. This year, it was a West Texas/Eastern New Mexico take on the annular solar eclipse!

Original target was Bledsoe, Texas, but as we stair-steped Southeast from Albuquerque, we noticed a pancake cumulus field developing along and even west of Texas/New Mexico border.  As we drove into Texas, we became concerned that this could cause a serious impediment to viewing the eclipse, and even potentially block it out.

We then recalculated and planned to head back west into New Mexico. John found the exact point on the road we took south from Portales that was on the center-line of anularity, and programed that into the GPS. As we headed back into New Mexico, there was some dissipation of the cumulus, but we realized we had made the correct move, as we could see the far west edge of the cu field.

We pulled off on the dirt road that was right on the center-line and started the set up the cameras.  We had arrived after the partial phase and started shooting.  Here is an early-on example that also captures a couple of sunspots (click on images for larger view):

At this point (and right through the annular phase) the sun was quite bright, and had we had to use special filters I purchased for this trip (and will hopefully come in handy for future eclipses).

Our calculations were perfect, and we achieved the main goal of being able to photograph perfect symmetrical annularity!!!

As the sun sank lower in the sky it finally became possible to photograph without the filters – we were now capturing all the colors of a Llano Estacado sunset!!

John particularly liked this one, as he felt it look like a shark’s tooth, I was inclined to think it was more like a shark’s fin, but nonetheless it was a great way to end a great eclipse!

The video didn’t turn out so well (too bright, causing severe flaring), but who cares I got the still shots. Will have more to add over the next few days and weeks to fill in some gaps.