Sunday, August 4, 2013
The annular solar eclipse of May 30, 1984 - here shown in its partial eclipse phase - as projected through a telescope onto a white card.
On May 30, 1984, Atlanta was treated to a rare event: an annular solar eclipse.
In an annular eclipse, the Moon is far enough away from the Earth so that it is unable to completely obscure the Sun’s disc. The result: a “ring of fire” at maximum eclipse. Not as dramatic, perhaps, as a total solar eclipse, but nevertheless an exciting and unusual sight.
The path of the eclipse was narrow enough so that I had to drive to midtown Atlanta in order to experience it. (Here in Big Chicken country, we were treated to a far less exciting 98% partial eclipse.) I parked near the Turner Broadcasting campus and settled myself on the lawn there, along with several dozen other amateur astronomers and eclipse junkies.
The period of annularity was brief - about a minute - but long enough to observe the strange semi-twilight that settled over the city. Almost thirty years has passed, and it’s still fresh in my mind.