Annular Solar Eclipse at Sunset


Dana Point, California, January 4, 1992

Annular eclipses occur when the apparent size of the moon is not enough to completely cover the sun; the visible outer edge of the sun forms a brilliant "ring of fire."

January 4, 1992 provided Southern Californians with a unique opportunity to witness an annular eclipse over the Pacific Ocean just before sunset. But it proved to be a frustrating experience for many would-be observers; the Los Angeles area was completely clouded out. I tried to avoid the clouds by driving south, and settled on a bluff overlooking the ocean near Dana Point. Even there, distant bands of clouds intermittently obscured the spectacle. It turned out that I should have continued farther south; San Diego had the clearest views.

Eclipse chasers learn to live with the consequences of their decisions. For the annular eclipse of May 10, 1994, I had to interpret the weather forecast and make a last-minute choice of viewing locations: stay in Hagerman, New Mexico or quickly drive 200 miles to El Paso, Texas? I stayed. When eclipse time came, right over my head was the biggest rain storm Eastern New Mexico had seen in years. Of course, I learned later that El Paso had perfectly clear skies.

Camera: Canon AE-1 on fixed tripod
Film: Kodachrome 64 slide
Focal length: 200 mm with dark gray filter (cropped for this scan)
Aperture and exposure time: Unrecorded
Scanner: Nikon Coolscan LS-10E

Revised: August 15, 1999
Copyright © 1999 Joe Orman
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