Sunday, June 10, 2012

Looking at the Sun (and other geeky adventures)

We've spent a lot of time lately looking at the sun. Thanks to the solar goggles we made for the occasion, we weren't blinded by the light. I also made a solar filter for my telephoto lens. We planned our vacation around seeing the "Ring of Fire" annular eclipse, which was not visible east of Texas. We also got to see the beginning of Venus' transit of the sun, with no travel required.

Here is some solar eye candy from the eclipse on May 20 (we watched this in a remote area of southern Utah) and the Venus transit of June 5 (as seen from the observatory atop the Physics Building at Georgia Tech in Atlanta). Enjoy!

Eclipse composite.

That little black dot on the sun is Venus. If you look closely you will see some sunspots near the center. We are near a sunspot maximum so there has been plenty of activity.

The Venus transit was still underway at sunset.

We made our own solar goggles and decided to go steampunk. Pop in some wacky colored lenses (preferably ones that you can actually see through when NOT looking directly at the sun) and we're all set for Dragon*Con! The solar filter material is OD=5 black polymer from Thousand Oaks Optical. I bought a sheet of it, which was more than enough for two sets of goggles and a camera filter. For the camera, I sandwiched a disk of filter material in between two threaded UV filters. I'm still having fun using it to photograph sun spots.

Action shot - that is yours truly checking out the eclipse. We were on a pullout on US Hwy 89 outside Big Water, Utah just south of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Turned out to be a perfect spot for viewing and we avoided all the crowds at Glen Canyon in Page, Arizona.