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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

The May 20, 2012 annular solar eclipse in motion

By Phil Plait

So yesterday was the annular eclipse of the Sun, and I held a live impromptu video chat on Google+ about it. I was joined by Pamela Gay, Fraser Cain, Nicole Gugliucci, and Jason Major, and we had a live video feed using astronomer Scott Lewis's telescope. It was way too much fun! I've embedded the video at the bottom of this post.

We asked for pictures, and my Twitter feed overfloweth with them! I'm collecting them to put into a gallery which I'll have up soon, but until then, watch this incredible video taken by John Knoll in his front yard in northern California:

Isn't that amazing? What happened is that all the overlapping leaves made thousands of tiny holes that sunlight could poke through.

This acts like a lens, focusing images of the Sun through every hole -- it's how a pinhole camera works. [UPDATE: Timothy in the comments below points out that some people were confused by my wording. I can see why; I had started to explain how a pinhole camera works then decided it was too distracting and instead just linked to Wikipedia. I didn't mean the pinhole is a lens, just that you get a sharp picture if you use one. I should've chosen my words more carefully.] You can read about the details of this on Wikipedia. Here's a similar video, too.

I'll have the gallery up soon, so stay tuned!

Finally for now, here's the live webcast recording. I'll embed it here, but note it took me a long time to get it set up and running. It really gets started at 17:23, and I suggest you skim around to see the cool stuff.

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- Ring of fire eclipse on May 20
- Followup: Supereclipse
- Eclipse followup part 2: tons oâ links on how to safely watch

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