Pinhole Camera

I love an eclipse.

The feature I love most is that we talk it up and then tell people not to look. Properly paying attention to an eclipse requires discipline. In our media-saturated, spectacle hungry world, that doesn’t happen very often.

Sunday evening’s annular eclipse will present an obscured sun with a bright “ring of fire” around the outside edge for those in the prime viewing area. The moon is a bit distant from the earth right now (wasn’t it just SUPER?) so its disc won’t cover the sun completely.

For we Minnesotans, there’s a chance we’ll get a view of a partially covered sun at sunset. This nifty animation from NASA shows how the moon shadow will cross the earth from West to East, with the “ring of fire” viewing area represented by the startling red dot that makes a quick entrance at daybreak over Asia, lingers longest just south of the Aleutians, and zooms eastward at sunset over the USA. I expect to see plenty of cool photos Monday morning.

Here in the upper midwest I think that means we’ll get a Sunday sunset missing a chunk, assuming the clouds let us see it. But remember, don’t look! Use the camera obscura technique, projecting the image on a viewable surface. To help you remember not to look, here’s a little warning poem.

Don’t look directly at the sun
Whilst it becomes eclipsed
A pinhole camera shows it
as a backwards crescent, flipsed.

If you don’t have the time or interest to make a pinhole camera, find a leafy tree placed between a low western horizon and a blank wall. Apparently spaces between leaves work effectively as pinhole cameras, casting lots of tiny eclipse images. You might get something like this.


Images of the sun during a solar eclipse through the leaves of a tree. October 3, 2005, St Juliens, Malta

Or we could just get a cloudy western sky and a gloomy sunset. Don’t get your hopes up, but don’t get your eyeballs fried. Seriously. Avoid looking directly at it.

Name something you really cannot bear to watch.

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50 thoughts on “Pinhole Camera”

  1. Good morning. Well, for the most part I agree with Linda. I did like the Rocky movie with Stallone. I don’t know why. Other than that film I would also prefer to avoid Sylvester’s films.

    Please don’t make me watch a veterinarian operate on an animal. In addition, I’m sure I would not like to see a Doctor cut into someone. Several years ago I watched a vet operating on a dog and had to leave the room. Also, I really don’t like to see people “defying death” by standing close to the edge of high places.

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  2. Morning-

    Never knew a tree could do that. WAY cool!
    I recieved an ‘anti gravity’ chair for my birthday and had 4 minutes to lay in it yesterday. If it’s not cloudy Sunday evening I may try to find another 4 minutes to sit in there and not watch the eclipse.

    I still can’t watch the flying monkees and I agree with Linda on movies. Also Scooby Doo and Garfield cartoons.

    A day of dance lighting for me. Starts this morning with ‘Tippy Toes’ and ends tonight with Dahl Dance Cabaret. Both are really fun in their own ways.

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    1. Dance lighting always makes me think of little round bellies encased in leotards dancing (or moving in spasms as they remember the steps) to “Where is the Chicken in the Chicken Chow Mein”….have a grand day Ben.

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      1. Only lost two dancers who, once the lights came up, didn’t want to be there. These little kids are always so cute! “Moving in spasms”- that’s good.

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  3. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” How hard it is to not look. I can’t bear to watch suspenseful movies unless I know how it is going to turn out. I have so much drama in my work that I can’s bear to see it for entertainment. I sometimes can’t bear to watch my husband iron his shirts, as he is left handed and does it backward as far as I can see and he always leaves wrinkles. He won’t let me iron his shirts, either, so I just leave the room I also can’t bear to SPCA ads or stories about abused animals. I never watch horror films.

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    1. Like that phrase – Don’t think of an elephant! – which is also a book about politics, I think.

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    2. If you send an address I have a number of shirts you could have your way with. I am
      Left handed too I cont use the non square end of the
      Ironing board ever. Robert full hum has a great ironing story

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        1. You can see why left handers make poor ironers. My husband stands on the other side of the board and it still doesn’t work.

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    3. I cried through a PBS documentary about what happened to all of the pets in New Orleans after Katrina.

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    1. Ha! Great list! Unfortunately, I am usually irresistibly drawn to political debates, despite the fact that I should know better. And Justin Bieber is currently unavoidable for me as well, since I have a tween girl and he. Is. EVERYWHERE.

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  4. Pretty much everything on television, with the notable exceptions of news, sports, Boardwalk Empire and RuPaul’s Drag Race (my guiltiest of guilty TV pleasures). Also, most movies these days – really, an action film based on the board game Battleship? Really???

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      1. While he was in office, Steve, that sight was indeed unbearable. Now that he’s back where he belongs in Texas, I’m less apt to lose my stuff when I see him. Only slightly less, but still.

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  5. Horror movies for sure, and any of the teen idols like Justin – Hanna Montana etc.

    I have a hard time watching any deep-seated conflict…
    (Which is correct “deep-seeded” or “deep-seated”?
    http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001815.html )
    which is ironic because I’ve found myself positioned as mediator in many situations – warring siblings, sister and teen-aged son, boss and co-worker…

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    1. Twins games when they’re playing bad baseball (all of last season and this season so far). In particular, Nishioka playing the infield. Shudder.

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  6. Oh, man, I just thought of another thing I cannot handle: contortionists. The sight of someone all bent out of shape and tangled up is very, very freaky to me. My kid’s double-jointed and even that can look bizarre to me sometimes.

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      1. I went to a Saints game one night that turned out to be infamous. Mike Veck, who was always looking for a promotional gimmick, had filled the stands that night with mimes. People were mildly amused at first, but the crowd got into an ugly mood. Toward the end of the game the chant was, “Kill the mimes! Kill the mimes!”

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  7. Watching the news has become excruciating for me. We’ve been without TV hook-up now for (is it?) 3 years, and so I don’t regularly see the “disaster report” anymore. I still unfortunately hear it via radio (hard to quit), but when I see the added visuals, it’s just over the top. I think it’s Andrew Weil who suggests limiting your news intake for optimal health… I don’t think our brains are really wired to be able to conceive of every human disaster happening all over the globe.

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  8. Men shaving their necks – gaaaah!

    Most of what is on TV, any injured animal, anything about anybody named “Kardashian.”

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  9. I really don’t like to see a garden that is allowed to go to weeds. There are times when I don’t manage to get all my weeding done and my garden might be one of those that I don’t like to see. If I see weeds in a public garden I am always tempted to to go over and pull them.

    I finally pulled a bunch of tall weeds today in a part of my garden that was not ready to plant. I was letting the weeds grow as sort of a cover crop. They were getting very tall and I couldn’t stand seeing them there any longer.

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    1. Edith and I have talked about this, how our weeding compulsion has occasionally spilled over into the public arena, like the library, the YWCA, even the Arboretum. We’re both trying to control that impulse.

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      1. Yes, in fact there have been a few times when I couldn’t keep myself from doing a little weed pulling in a public garden.

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        1. Middle daughter, when around 5 or 6, as we walked to the library, pulled out a dandelion in someone’s front garden, managing to get the entire root. She gave a huge sigh of satisfaction. I knew she was just following my example – that’s when I started to wonder if I was making my kid really weird.

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        2. Edith, my kids are weird, or as we say “spicy”, but we figure it just spices up the gene pool and makes life more interesting. I can say that now that Bill and I have survived their childhood intact. More or less.

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  10. animals being tortured and people being put to death by lethal injection or otherwise. why do they need witnesses. they had a guy on tv a week or so ago who has the record for seeeing people being put to death, yuk
    i belonged to a film club years ago and every couple of years they would have gross out night. nazi mass burials, and death camps , slaughter house killing videos with the air hammer in no country for old men, then there was the shaving bit where they had a guy shave and nick his ns=eck with a little blood and it turned into blood flowing like a psycho shower scene. it was a real memorable evening doing 2 hours of films of dreadful stuff you would never want to see.

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  11. And then there’s stuff you don’t want to hear. On PHC when Garrison starts that Phone Call with Duayne’s Mom, I just turn down the radio till it’s over. Like fingernails on a chalkboard…

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    1. I know. I can’t stand it either. Her ability to be incredibly annoying just shows how talented she is – I don’t recall her name now but she is really, really good. I have a girlfriend who talks JUST LIKE HER when she does that skit: “Huh, Duane?? Huh??” and “Ooooh, honey.”

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      1. Yes, her voice too (Sue Scott?), but the content of the conversation drives me insane!

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  12. I s’pose everybody is going to BBC today. I’m reading the book too but I won’t be going. I’m about halfway through it. I have to fill out application forms for refinancing my house. After taking a retirement seminar, I’ve decided to hunker down until I’m 65. So, I’m refinancing. I’m also getting a new roof due to the hail damage. Lots of work to do…

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    1. That doesn’t sound very fun – filling out forms is never fun. Too bad you can’t be at book club, but it will be great to get the refinancing done. I assume you will have lower monthly payments then?

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  13. Politicians, whenever they open their mouths. Except for Congressman Ron Paul, his son, Senator Rand Paul, and a few other Libertarians who actually think for themselves and aren’t in politics for personal gain

    Chris.

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