The Annular Eclipse as seen in Albuquerque, NM

Last night, on May 20th, 2012, the annular eclipse lined up perfectly for those of us in New Mexico. I drove down to Albuquerque and shot images of the annular eclipse in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, just above the city of Albuquerque. All of the images in this blog post, save for one, are composites of actual photographs that were put together in Photoshop. The actual eclipse lasted for about four minutes, but the moon was blocking some part of the sun for a total of about 80 minutes.

To create these images I shot with a Nikon D800 and a Nikkor 70-200mm F/2.8G VRII lens. I had a Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter attached to the front of the 70-200. The Vari-ND is a variable neutral density filter that allows me to stop the light down anywhere from 2 to 8 stops of light. For these images I had the Vari-ND set to block the maximum amount of light, i.e. 8-stops. Hence, that is why the surrounding sky is pure black. They make for a very graphic image, though I suppose if I wanted to I could have created these in photoshop.

As the sun descended, it neared the horizon and turned orange, since the eclipse happened near sunset. In the last few shots of these composites, if I zoom into the images I can see sunspots on the sun. At no point during the eclipse could you look at the sun with the naked eye, or even wearing dark sunglasses, and not injure your retina. Hence, it was only by looking through a filter that was basically pitch black that I could get these images.

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