Annular eclipse, May 31st, 2003

On May 31st, 2003 I firmly decided to get up really early. I had learned a few weeks earlier that for this morning a partial eclipse of the sun had been scheduled. Even for a has-been astronomy hobbyist like me this event could hardly be skipped. So I dragged myself from the bed, got dressed and climbed on the roof of my house. From there I could have a clear view on the eastern horizon, where the sun was about to rise.

The eclipse would nowhere in the world be total: in its present position the moon was simply too far away (its distance to the earth varies, as its orbit is an ellips) and hence too small to cover the solar disc completely. The eclipse was predicted to be annular: at best: a ring of sunlight would remain around the dark side of the moon. However, even the latter phenomenon would stay just out of reach for in the Netherlands. It would only be observable somewhat further to the east of our country.

In the Netherlands the sun would, in perfect weather conditions, rise like a sickle pointing downwards, in the shape of a "U", so to speak. Ideally, two separate points of light would appear at the horizon, according to the Dutch Star guide 2003. So much for theory.

In reality the conditions were not perfect. Though not cloudy, the eastern horizon appeared rather hazy at the time in Woerden. Only about ten minutes after sunrise the sun became visible. At that moment the moon had already shifted to the left, leaving a sun sickle pointing to the right. I must say, it still looked quite spectacular, observing the sun coming up in such a mutilated way.

Having no experience whatsoever photographing an eclipse such as this with my newly purchased digital camera, the Fujifilm S602 Zoom, I started taking pictures in a haphazard way, with widely varying exposure times and zoom positions. Later that day I edited the series with simple photo editing applications. The results were very poor.

In 2004 I repeated the editing with somewhat better results, but only in January 2005, using more professional software, I managed to improve the pictures considerably, in such a way that they were more comparable. At that time it even turned out to be feasible to cut out a matching window from eight telephotos (zoom position 210 mm), and convert these into a rather nice animation. This animation can be viewed by clicking the thumbnail below. So looking back in retrospect the 2003 photographic session turned out to be worthwhile after all!

Click for animation (1.5 MB!)

The times of the eight composing pictures are: 4:37 - 4:42 - 4:43 - 4:45 - 4:46 - 4:49 - 4:50 - 4:53.

Note that the animation is a 1.5 MB gif file!

Last updated April 14th, 2007
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