December 14, 2001 Annular Solar Eclipse
Marathon, Florida (USA)
4:45pm 5:06pm 5:24pm
This eclipse was best viewed from the South Florida area where the eclipse magnitude
(fraction of the Sun's diameter cover by the Moon) was 60% or more. Areas further
south like the Florida Keys had a magnitude of 65%.
Using a special filter, I set up my camera atop the 14th floor of Bonefish Towers in Marathon.
I assembled the tripod and video camera with the special filter. The filter was so big I could actually see through the side of it outside the lens barrel, keeping my eyes safe when not looking at the flipout screen. The power of the sun isn't diminished any during an eclipse, so don't think you can throw on a pair of sunglasses and look directly at it because the sun can cause serious damage to the eyes if you're not careful. I had the camera locked at 12X zoom and kept repositioning it every few minutes as the sun moved. I could see clouds blowing by the sun in the viewfinder--which was really great looking.
At precisely 4:14pm eastern the eclipse began with the moon moving from west to east across the earth. The first frame on the left is a video still taken at 4:45pm, 31 minutes after it started. The middle frame shows the moon moving across the bottom half of the sun. The last frame taken at 5:24pm, one minute from the peak, was the last full view I saw before the sun dropped behind cloud cover. What made this event unusual was the eclipse peaked at sunset for the eastern US, making for a memorable sight. Now that I have a technique for shooting an eclipse, I can hardly wait for the next one.
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