Monday, May 21, 2012

#134 Solar Eclipse

     We had a partial solar eclipse today.

     The moon seldom passes between us and the sun, dragging its dark shadow across the earth. Today it did exactly that right here where I live.

     Using a paper punch, I had made five holes in a half sheet of computer paper by 6:00 p.m.   

     Understanding that it was possible to burn the retina of my eyes if I looked at the sun directly,  I planned to observe what was happening indirectly.  

     By projecting the sun's light through a small hole in a sheet of paper, I could safely watch its image change on the light cast on a second piece of paper held at arm's length from the first.

     At a little after 6:00, I noticed a small, dark bump in the upper-right of each of the five circles of light on the second sheet of paper.  As I continued to check every five minutes or so, the spot slowly changed into a crescent shape--like a cookie with a bite taken out of it. I knew that the moon was beginning to block out a little bit of the sun's light.

     I wondered if I could project the crescent shapes on the east wall around our back yard.  This is a photo of the result:

     Sure enough, the five little crescents shone onto the fence.  My husband began to get interested in the project, and that is his shadow holding the paper for me.

     Isn't it interesting how the projection of light through each little hole repeats the shape of the eclipse in the image?  --Five little holes and five crescents in the shadow of the paper.

     That was when I noticed that the branches and leaves from a nearby tree were casting some more unusual shadows.  The light shining through the tree's spaces was making more crescents on the fence.  

     They resembled bubbles of light on the darkening wall because there were so many.  We took some pictures of them too.

       My husband had a sudden inspiration.  He found an old metal tractor seat with lots of holes in it.  It looks like this:

     "Do you think it will make crescent-shaped projections from each of these holes?" he asked.

     We took a picture of the result.

     Can you see the eclipse projection in each hole?

     What else do these shadows look like?  Is someone carrying a basket?  Does it look like an Inca Sun god with a fancy crown on his head?  

     What kind of books might this post inspire you to read?  Non-fiction books about eclipses?  Shadow puppets?  The pin-hole camera?  (Look that one up if you don't know what it is.)

     Next time I really will discuss illustrations and illustrators of children's books.  Occasionally, life just leads me down an important new path. We only get to observe a solar eclipse a few times, and the experience begs to be shared .

     But for now...

     Please keep reading.  


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