Solar Eclipse May 20, 2012

On Saturday May 19 we decided to put together a quick project to prepare for the solar eclipse on the 20th. We used the basic sun funnel plans found on the web, Sun Funnel Plans, to start with.  To avoid damaging a more expensive scope we picked up a 60mm Celestron refractor from the local sporting goods story for about $70. Cutting 7" off of the small end of the funnel produced the perfect size to slip over the 20mm eyepiece of the scope. To produce a larger image I decided to add an 8" black flower pot to the end of the funnel. This was found at the Lowes garden shop and I simply cut the bottom out of it. The funnel was then pushed down into it and four sheet metal screws were used to fasten the pot to the funnel. It was a nice tight fit so nothing further needed to be done to seal it up. For the projection screen I just used some scrap cloth from around the house. I have ordered some rear projection screen material for future use. The cloth was simply held on by a few large rubber bands.

The funnel got a test run on the 19th and we didn't see any smoke so the scope might work even though the diagonal housing is plastic. On the 20th we had it set up from the start of the eclipse until sun set and didn't observe any heat related problems.

This is a look at the funnel mounted on the 60mm scope. Note the 8" flower pot screwed on to the top of the funnel to provide more length and a larger image.

At 5:34 the moon is just starting to take a bite out of the left edge of the sun.

At 5:44 the moon is really starting to intrude upon the solar disk.

The view at 6:04.

The view at 6:14.

By 6:24 we are getting a nice crescent shape.

This was about the maximum coverage at our location in Chandler at approximately 6:37 MST. In order to have seen the "ring of fire" we would have had to travel up towards the northeast corner of the state.

As the moon starts to retreat around 6:48 we tried an eyepiece projection down towards the ground on a sheet of paper attached to a clipboard.

I was able to snap this direct view as the sun is setting behind South Mountain at 7:19 MST. The sun is being filtered by the smoke of the Gladiator fire which has blown down into the valley from the Crown King area.