The Ring of Fire

by david on 2 June 2012

The "ring of fire" projected through my binoculars. That's me on the right.

On 11 August 1999 I was standing in the rain in Stuttgart, Germany. Very slowly the light grew dimmer, until for two minutes it was as dark as twilight. Then it suddenly brightened again. Behind the opaque clouds was a total solar eclipse that I had come a long way to see, but instead, nothing but dark clouds. I was very disappointed.

This time was different. On May 20th, my friend Coy and I drove up to Red Bluff to see the annular eclipse. Along for the ride were my two nephews, Josiah and Samuel; Coy’s two daughters, Anne and Emma; and Emma’s friend Kelsey. We had a great time, and seeing the eclipse was a rare delight.

During an annular eclipse, the moon isnt’ close enough to completely block the sun, so the result is the “Ring of Fire” instead. It doesn’t get dark like it does during a total eclipse, but it did get noticeably dimmer, similar to the “Golden Hour” effect just before sunset.

The annular eclipse becomes thousands of little circles when filtered through trees. Note that it's still very light out.

Anne making tiny "pinhole cameras" with her crossed hands

Just after annularity, I caught Emma in profile. Tiny crescents can be seen in many places, including the edges of her lips

Mt Lassen as seen from downtown Red Bluff

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