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This Day in History, 1994: Annular Solar Eclipse

On May 10, 1994, eleven years ago today, an annular solar eclipse was visible from many places, including much of the eastern United States. This is the kind of eclipse in which a ring of the Sun is still visible around the Moon, and so the Moon's umbra fails to reach the surface of the Earth.

I was teaching a Physics class in Brooklyn at the time the eclipse was visible, so I took all the students outside to observe it. We used index cards and the pinhole camera method of creating an image of the Sun, so no one would make the mistake of looking directly at the Sun, which you must never do without protection for your eyes.

The most fascinating observation I made during this eclipse was that the shadows of a tree's leaves also created their own pinhole camera effect. Looking at the ground we could clearly see shadows with a "bite" out of them, similar to the appearance of the Sun during an annular eclipse.

If you want to know more about annular eclipses, Wikipedia has an article on solar eclipses here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse

And there's a ton of pages devoted to pictures and observations from the 1994 annular eclipse; here's a few I recommend:

http://www.shadowchaser.demon.co.uk/eclipse/1994/ (Beautiful pictures taken from Morocco)

http://www.sec.noaa.gov/ImageGallery/eclipse.html (Images from New Mexico)

http://www.allvidzhaze.com/images/anneclip.htm (Images from Vermont)

http://www.mcglaun.com/ecl94ann.htm (Images from Indiana)

http://www.noao.edu/eclipses/94may10.html (Pictures of the eclipse taken by a satellite looking down on the Earth!)

http://www.williams.edu/Astronomy/eclipse/eclipse1994/1994annular/ (Images from New Hampshire)

For many more, just use Google, like I did!

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