Partial Solar Eclipse -- June 10, 2002

Alex Zucker's 5th Birthday Eclipse (that's his 5th birthday, not his 5th eclipse)

Photos by Evan Zucker

Click on the images to get a larger version.

Eclipse observers at the I-8 vista point east of San Diego.
Herb Koenig and Paula Eisenhart
Paula watches Alex try out his solar filters.
Herb Koenig watching the eclipse simulation on a laptop computer.
Cameron Zucker and Samuel Carson observe solar crescents projected by collander.
Crescents through a tilted collander.
Alex Zucker observing solar crescents projected by collander.
Solar crescents projected by collander.
Paula Eisenhart, Steve and Ann Wendroff

We enjoyed a beautiful 80% magnitude eclipse in San Diego. The weather unexpectedly cleared up to a large degree, resulting in nearly the entire county able to observe at least some of the eclipse. However, clouds did start moving in from the coast during the eclipse, and so I was glad that I chose to observe about 30 miles east at 3,000-feet elevation at a vista point on Interstate 8 (32-50N, 116-40W). I didn't mind giving up 1% of magnitude in exchange for cloud-free skies.

I was sorry to see such extensive clouds in Puerto Vallarta at From the looks of the video, I don't think the folks at PV saw the entire annulus. It looks similar to the clouds we had in San Diego for the 4 Jan 92 ring of fire sunset eclipse except that we were fortunate that the clouds obscured only a small portion of the sun, at least south of Camp Pendleton; Los Angeles was completely clouded out then, but not this time.

This was a special eclipse for me because my younger son turned 5 on June 10, and he had been looking forward to his "birthday eclipse" for many months. Not surprisingly, I suppose, he was most excited seeing the eclipse with his own eyes through a solar filter. He enjoyed the much larger view through my 8" LX200, but it was a more "detached" view.

He and the other kids there also enjoyed the crescents formed by my colander (spaghetti strainer), the leaves in the trees, and by small circles we made with our fingers. The only mishap is that one of the kids dropped and shattered one of my pieces of No. 14 welder's glass, which was about 20 years old. That's why I always have backups.

We definitely noticed the air cooling and the sun and sky dimming as maximum eclipse approached. For whatever reason, the wind died down -- it had been relatively breezy when I arrived 80 minutes before first contact. The most interesting visual effect was that the shadow of my straw hat was sharper on one side than on the other side near maximum eclipse. And, of course, all the shadows were sharper than usual.

At mid-eclipse, the sun was 17 degrees above the horizon and still blindingly bright, which was good because it ensured that none of the children would violate my instructions and try to look at the unfiltered sun (if they were so inclined). I glanced at the sun and could just barely discern the crescent with unfiltered eyes. (Kids, don't try this at home <g>.) When I closed my eyes, the after image was a crescent.

In contrast to San Diego being the best place in the U.S. to observe this eclipse, San Diego will be the worst place in the U.S. to observe the next U.S. solar eclipse, on 2005 Apr 8. Of all the places in the country that will see some portion of partiality (and about one-half of the U.S. won't see any), San Diego will have the very lowest magnitude and shortest duration -- about 3% and 13 minutes, respectively.

2012 May 20 will be a lot better. I would love to try to observe it at sunset in the Texas panhandle, but that is in the middle of Tornado Alley, and May is the peak of tornado season. Consequently, thunderstorms are quite common that time of year, and so the drier desert states, such as Utah and New Mexico, may be more promising. How about photographing annularity beneath an arch in Arches National Park!

Click here to see photos of the World Trade Center site and Lower Manhattan from October 2001.