Watching the Ring of Fire.

For once we in Northern California were in the path of the annular eclipse, so we weren’t about to miss this once-in-a-lifetime event.  My hubby and I stood on our back patio.  My sister joined us, having driven up from Benicia, so she could get into the path of the  full eclipse.  The sky was clear, and with the moon far enough away so it wouldn’t completely cover the sun, we hoped to see the ring of fire.

I read that the eclipse would occur at 6:28 and last 4 and a half minutes.  But we decided to poke pin holes in heavy paper and step outside at 5 pm, just to do a test run.  We stood, back to sun, and held the paper up so the light showed on the wall of the house.

“Hey, it’s already started!”   A shadow took a bite out of the sun’s reflection, coming from the upper right corner.  I guess if you could look directly at the sun through welder’s glasses, you’d see the shadow in the lower left corner.  So if it came in at an angle, would we see only an edge at full eclipse?  We hoped not.  We wanted to see that ring!

We held the paper up, having punched multiple holes of various sizes in it to see which worked best.  My sister took pictures with her i-phone.  And we joked about our nerdy choice of entertainment.

Then just before 6:30, the moon squared directly with the sun, and we saw what looked like a bright donut with a dark hole reflected on the wall.

Don’t look at the sun, people warn.  But we flashed a glimpse, which was enough to show us what looked like molten metal, white-hot, forming a ring around the moon.  The ring of fire!  Powerful!

The ring lasted the 4 and a half minutes, but what we noticed was another phenomenon that lasted longer, perhaps an hour or more.  I saw it well before we came outside, but it didn’t connect with my full awareness until after the ring of fire had passed.

“Look at the wall!” I said.

Normally, the light filtering through the trees will show as rounded spots on the wall, as see above.  But look below at what we saw.

The light filtering through the trees behind us cast rings on the wall.  Were the rings complete earlier?  I don’t know, but I ran for my camera.  I interpreted the pattern as leaves forming an imperfect pinhole.  Later though, someone told me of seeing the same circular pattern cast by other objects.  One of my friends has a skylight in her home, and she said that during the eclipse, she saw the circular patterns moving in swirls through the skylight.

The mystery and magic are greater than we expected.

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