Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Last May 19, 2012, I led a group of 3 members of the Astronomical League of the Philippines which includes me, Jett Aguilar and Mark Vornhusen to Xiamen, Fujian, China to observe the May 21, 2012 annular solar eclipse. We arrive in Xiamen on May 19th before lunchtime and scout for a good site to setup and document the eclipse next day. It was raining the whole day when we arrive but we still keep our fingers crossed and monitor the weather pattern and after a day of analyzing the weather pattern. With Mark Vornhusen, a good weather satellite map analyzer, we both agreed and decided to still stay put and take a gallant stand and stick with our original plans. I brought along a very portable setup with a Canon EOS 500D DSLR with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS L lens with Canon EF 1.4x converter set at 560mm (35mm equivalent of 900mm) mounted on my portable Kenko Sky Memo-R tracker. I also brought along a small Canon Powershot 650 IS digicam for me to document activity shots as well as a Sony old model TRV-120 camcorder for me to video the eclipse. On E-Day, we wake up early and went to our chosen observing site at around 4:00am local time (deduct 8 hours to get UT) which is near the coastal beach facing the small Kinmen island which is facing east horizon. It was a clear sky as predicted by the local weather news and indeed it was a clear day for all eclipse viewers in Xiamen! At around 5:23am local time , i got to see the first small horn of the eclipsed Sun and we started to click away. Although the sky is clear, I could sense that there is slight thin haze hovering near the Sun as my exposures were not consistent and I have to constantly changing exposure almost every shot thus I had to bracket my exposures to lessen the burden. With that on hand, I had to quit doing the video because I might jeopardize my still imaging session :( But nearing 2nd contact, a small patch of black cloud started to cover the Sun unexpectedly and all viewers there at the site were going crazy and all are yelling for it to go away :) But from the looks of the small clouds which covers the Sun 10 minutes before 2nd contact, I estimated and tell my fellow members that this small pesky cloud will exit the Sun before 2nd contact arrives and true to the prediction, the Sun came out of the small cloud like a "second contact" diamond ring and everyone was celebrating as the Sun continuous to come out part by part. Suddenly, I was surprised to see chromosphere,prominence ,Bailey's Beads and a small faint hint of inner corona through thin clouds! It was AWESOME, BEAUTIFUL and DRAMATIC!!! As like what fellow member Mark Vornhusen , also an avid eclipse chaser,say " It's an annular solar eclipse that we came here to observe but we were treated with a "semi total solar eclipse" effect :) LOL A few more seconds passed and we got to see the "Ring of Fire" for about 4 minutes or so before all things comes to an end 3rd contact started. We also got to see some Bailey's Beads during the 3rd contact. As the time moves forth, the Sun started to undergo partial phases till it exits the Sun more or less around 7:21am. It was a very good, dramatic annular solar eclipse and it was worth the trip going to see this eclipse!!! We went back home in the evening with a happy heart and looking forward to observing the total solar eclipse in Borneo in 2016!!! More time to prepare again :)
Sunday, May 13, 2012
I wake up late this morning and see some sunlight still peeping through my window and since starting last May 1, the Sun is starting to rise more northern till the end of August and this prevents me from observing and imaging the Sun in my regular setup area on that time span :( Since I miss observing and imaging the Sun already, I had to haul down all my solar setup from 3rd floor down to the ground floor on my laundry area to get a short limited solar session which is still better than nothing. In Ha, AR11476 Sunspot Groups shows lots of solar activity inside its core. It also show the dark filaments sprouting out near its core. A nice solar view indeed! @ more sunspot group are also visible namely AR11477 and new AR11478 Sunspot Groups. Another good feature this morning is the presence of an ejected mass of prominence materials in the NE limb! After imaging in Ha wavelength, I quickly setup for high resolution white light imaging session but unfortunately, clouds started to interfere and I was only able to get a section of the huge AR11476's main core structure only :(
After deciding last night what I will be bringing to the May 21, 2012 Annular Solar Eclipse expedition, I tested my Canon EOS 500D DSLR with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS L lens with Canon EF 1.4x converter set at 560mm f/11 (35mm equivalent of 900mm f/11) on the Sun in white light and below is the result which can still show good details and added advantage of portability over my main solar scope, TV-101 refractor for the event I crop the image a bit to show slightly better image scale to see better details on AR11476 Sunspot Group as well as AR11477 and a new sunspot group AR11478. Looks promising! T-9 days to go!
Sunday, May 6, 2012
The sky this morning was partly cloudy and I don't have plans to do any solar imaging this morning but sky opened up a little despite some thick haze,unfortunately, I couldn't contain myself and was tempted to still brought my setup down to the laundry area for me to image the Sun in Ha wavelength only. Seeing condition is not good but I still proceeded imaging. A new AR11476 Sunspot Group is now visible near the NE limb while AR11471, AR11470 and AR11469 Sunspot Groups shows bright small flares around their group. A large eruptive prominence can be seen in the southern limb. No white light this morning as got clouded out after imaging in Ha.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
The Full Moon today is widely observe around the world as it was designated the SuperMoon as it is the biggest Full Moon size for the year 2012. Tonight's full Moon is a Perigee Moon, which happens when the Moon is closest tot he Earth and as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full moons of 2012. I got to image it past midnight after some clear out of the sky for me to image it with my Canon EOS 500D DSLR with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS L lens with EF 1.4x converter.
While I was still at work, I got to received a facebook message from photographer friend Derrick Lim saying there is a double rainbow visible hat time, I went out to check the sky which is a bit dim and cloudy and saw a beautiful complete rainbow arching its way across the sky! I didn't waste any more time and scrambled to find an open sky for me to image it without much wire obstructions and was able to find an open area at the Reina Regente Bridge and use my Iphone 4 to quickly snap several images of the rainbow which was very bright and beautiful! Also faintly visible is the second rainbow just above the main rainbow which is broken arc and is more pronounce in the right side of the rainbow only. Nevertheless, a beautiful view despite the cloudy sky that afternoon :)