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Ring Of Fire

The annular eclipse of 2012 just rolled through the Western United States and I, along with millions of my fellow human beings, made the journey across parts of the planet Earth in the American West to view a transitory astronomical sight.  An annular eclipse is when the Sun and the Moon are precisely in line but because the Moon’s apparent diameter does not completely occlude the Sun.  When this happens, a rim of the Sun shines around the shadow of the Moon creating an apparent ring of fire.

Most eclipses including annular eclipses occur over the ocean or over sparsely populated areas of the planet, so this was a relatively unique opportunity to photograph an annular eclipse from a relatively close place to home.  This photo was made from South Central Utah about 20 miles West of Cedar City where I managed to find a place overlooking a valley with a nice view of the sunset in amongst the juniper trees.


I tried to get as close a zoom as possible to reveal the mountains of the moon.  There is some detail here where you can actually see the topology of the moon.


The crescent Sun, the star that gives us life.  The interesting thing was that during the eclipse, temperatures actually dropped which was a sensation I was not expecting.  Though it reminds us of the warmth that the Sun provides to planet Earth.


A zoomed in crop of the moon helping to frame the sunspots of our star.


I had a couple of jets fly past my viewfinder.  One spectacularly close one earlier before I had the camera attached and this one late in the eclipse.  I really wish I had captured the first one…  It was totally worthy.


As I was finishing out the eclipse, “H” sent these totally excellent images she captured from our backyard in Salt Lake City, a beautiful example of the pinhole effect through the trees on the side of our garage.


This was my vantage point.  I had set about with Google Earth to find an area that would be in the central part of the shadow of the eclipse for maximal annularity (that sounds kinda bad…), and found this area on the edge of a mining operation just West of Cedar City, Utah.  It took some doing to get up here and lets just say I am thankful for low range on my Toyota 4-Runner.

The location was ideal and I got to enjoy the experience while hummingbirds flew up to my face to see what I was up to and high desert songbirds told their stories.


During the eclipse, the contrast on the landscape went up giving a surreal view of everything that people in the ancient past must have wondered or even been scared about.  The birds stopped singing and the crickets started singing as the eclipse progressed which added to the drama unfolding across the surface of the Earth.


Down in the valley people stopped by the roadside or even set up tents to get a chance to participate in the experience.


One final shot of sunset before scrambling down the hillside and getting caught in the hoards of people migrating back to population centers North.


Just had to show this off…  “H” had packed a surprise in my dinner that evening.  So, in addition to a main with roasted chicken, chickpea, green beans and bulgar wheat with almonds and apricots, and a side of delicious watermelon, I had a desert of homemade Eclipse Cookies.  Gotta say, its one of the culinary highlights of my life, enjoyed in a perhaps once in a lifetime experience.


I did not have a really fancy setup to photograph the sun, but I wanted to do it and it had to be done safely.  So, repurposing my trusty spotting scope with a point and shoot camera, I picked up a couple of ND 3.0 filters and stacked them.  I wrote up the details on another post, Fiery The Angels Rose.

Categories: Astrophotography, Events.

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27 Responses

  1. Great write up !!

  2. Very cool shots! I’ve yet to look at mine. Got back late enough from Cedar Breaks, I just went to bed.

  3. Thank you for sharing and I love what you got. :)

  4. Very nice! We were in Capitol Reef but didn’t have any filters for safe viewing. I was hoping that you might obtain some good images.

    • Oh, I did not know you were down there. I could have pointed you in the direction of some friends who had equipment there.

      See you at the BBQ coming up?

  5. Awesome work. These came out really great. Very cool!

  6. Really, really gorgeous pictures. Absolutely love those zoom-ins and the crescents!! Thanks for sharing! Also very much appreciate the description of your setup. Very interesting.

    Dino LeoneMay 21, 2012 @ 9:44 pmReply
    • Thanks Dino. Did you get a chance to see the eclipse? It did go through Northern California and Nevada. If so, got any pics?

      • I so much wanted to go and shoot it but I couldn’t get away from the Bay Area last weekend. Huge, huge regret now! Hey, please let me know next time you’re in the area, ok?! Would love to meet.

        Dino LeoneMay 22, 2012 @ 12:06 pmReply
      • Will do. Nothing planned as of yet, but I’ll let you know if it comes up. Its a ways off, but I’ll absolutely be in the Bay Area in February though…

  7. Very kool shots Bryan! Well done and thanks for sharing. Love the crescent!

    Scott McLeodMay 23, 2012 @ 11:47 amReply
  8. great images as i’ve come to expect from you :) i was about 20 miles NE of Kanab so quite close to you, our setup included two chairs, a table and wineglasses completed with a delightful bottle of Chateau Neuf Du Pape and a bottle of Beaujolais :)

    Did you see your shadow “double up” when the eclipse was maximum? that was the weirdest part for me. We were staying at the house in St. George, if I’d known you were around you could’ve avoided the traffic and stayed.

    • Oh, shoot. Would have been nice to meet up given that I was so close. The shadows and the contrast were truly interesting… I should have made some time-lapse images…. Hindsight.

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