Solar Eclipse 2001

Forums General Discussion 20 years ago today Solar Eclipse 2001

Steve Holmes

Yes, after a near miss in Cherbourg in 1999 I was in Africa too – in a field full of maize stubble just off the Great North Road out of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. My equipment was a Minolta 7000i SLR 35mm film camera (remember those?) fitted with a 600mm mirror lens plus x2 doubler and loaded with 400ASA slide film. A home-made solar filter constructed from one (mylar) lens of a pair of eclipse specs was inserted into the focal point filter-holder of the mirror lens – not quite sure how it failed to melt! – and this lot was mounted on a standard alt-az photographic tripod weighted against the wind by a thermos flask of water tied to the tripod head with a piece of string! Finding the Sun was very difficult (small field of view and no finder) and even when it swam into view the tripod’s elevation clamp was not quite strong enough to hold the extra weight and so a degree of “droop” had to be allowed for. The fact that I was able to get quite a reasonable set of images was thus little short of a miracle! Here’s a few:-

The tour group sits in the shade, watching the early partial phase through eclipse specs.

The crescent Sun, as viewed through the mylar filter somewhat before totality, presages things to come!

Baily’s Beads shine out between the lunar mountains.

As totality arrives, the inner corona becomes visible together with more prominences.

A composite of eight pictures shows the delicate beauty of the full corona.

The beginning of the end: the chromosphere is briefly visible as the Sun’s brightness re-appears.

As the Moon retreats, sunspots are revealed (again through the filter).

I was actually rather pleased with my efforts, given the circumstances. Not quite such a struggle these days, what with digital imaging and stable EQ tripods, but “doing it the hard way” was certainly a good learning experience!