Monday, May 21, 2012

In Japan - Annular Solar Eclipse 2012 in Ikebukuro

Woke up at 5:15 AM, checked this website for info on the exact timing of the eclipse in Tokyo, took a shower (I expected myself to be running straight for school right after seeing this eclipse), and then.. off I went.

The first contact was supposed to be at 6:19 AM but I couldn't see anything.

That was all I could see: a round-looking big sun, as usual. Today was cloudy as well, so I thought I wouldn't be able to see the eclipse.

I returned back to my dorm around 6:30 AM, hoping that I could see the second contact at 7:31 AM and the maximum eclipse at 7:34 AM. I had breakfast, took my time and... it never occurred to me that I couldn't see anything because I didn't have a pair of eclipse glasses. I thought of buying one after the breakfast and as I walked towards a convenience store, I saw this middle-aged man looking at the sun with the eclipse glasses. So I asked him if he could see anything because I couldn't.

He said yes, and it was very beautiful.

I glanced at the sun for 0.5 second-ish and I see no sign of eclipse. So he very kindly lent me the glasses, and... WOW. Beautiful. Simply splendid. You couldn't see it without the help of eclipse glasses. You could do it with a camera film layered against a sunglass, but I didn't have those either. I ran off to 5 different convenience stores to hear that all the glasses had been sold out. Perhaps if I went there at 6 earlier I could have gotten one.

Well, by the time I reached the last store, it was almost time for the maximum eclipse and I didn't bring my camera with me. I ran towards my dorm, was greeted by my dorm manager but didn't have enough time to explain. I just said "kamera wo tori ni ikimasu" and rushed to my room on the 4th floor. And another pair of sunglasses.

I was just in time for the maximum eclipse. It took a while to adjust my camera's focus because it is an automatic camera and it adjusts the focus as it wishes, but I made it in time to get the camera focused. I didn't have a camera filter or anything fancy so I used my amber-shaded sunglasses in front of my camera lens to act as a "filter". It's cheap and hey it works!

a little more focused

looked much better but much thicker than it should be


7:33:23 AM

7:33:57 AM

7:34:03 AM

7:34:08 AM

And after about 4 minutes after the predicted maximum eclipse, the ring started to break:

7:38:11 AM

It was impossible to see the eclipse with just a pair of normal sunglasses. I've seen people putting 4 layers of sunglasses and it somehow worked. Well, it's easier to see the maximum eclipse if you are using sunglasses because during maximum eclipse the sky will be darker, similar to when the sun sets. I was wearing 2 layers of sunglasses and I could see the eclipse. Not for a long period because I was scared that those wouldn't be enough. But hey the person who bought the solar eclipse glasses standing next to me said you couldn't see anything at all with those special glasses because it was too dark. I tried it, and yes, I couldn't see anything.

I was a little sad and disappointed not being able to find any eclipse glasses, but I guess it was better that way: someone lent me his glasses so I could see the eclipse when it was not at its maximum, and I could see and take pictures of the maximum eclipse.

So what did it feel like? Hmm, mysterious, kind of eerie... For a moment before the maximum eclipse I saw the shadow of tree leaves projected on a wall, and it looked very weird because of the lighting. It looked as if the leaves were in crescent shapes. During the maximum eclipse, the sky was dark, and everyone around stopped walking all of the sudden. And the cloudy background made it more eerie. But it was a mixed feeling of excitement, happiness, eeriness... I was totally mesmerized. Enchanted. I couldn't take my eyes off, even though I knew my eyes need more protection to see the eclipse. For most of the time, I saw the eclipse through my camera's LCD screen, so I think I should be fine.

I'm really, really glad I made it. It was very beautiful.


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