Eclipses: Om Nom Nom Nom Nom


The monster theory of eclipses was the favorite theory of eclipses of premodern people all over the world, and likely for nearly all of our species’ existence. Here are some eclipse monsters that were believed to exist:


  • Scandinavia: two wolves
  • The Mayas: a snake
  • Some North American First Nations people: a bear
  • India: Rahu, a demon
  • China: a dragon
  • Korea: fire dogs
  • Vietnam: a frog
  • The Philippines: a dragonlike snake

Continue reading

Eclipse Pictures

Total Eclipse of the Sun -- 2017-08-21 10.18.52Total Eclipse of the Sun -- 2017-08-21 10.19.16

As I saw it, the visible corona was a third to a half as thick as what these pictures show. These pictures are overexposed relative to the eclipsed Sun. I used a cheap point-and-shoot digital camera, and I used most of its defaults rather than experimenting with its settings.

Total Eclipse of the Sun

I saw a total eclipse of the Sun from Lebanon, Oregon around 10:17 AM PDT, August 21, 2017.

I prepared in advance by getting some eclipse glasses some weeks before, but then I saw warnings about how some of them were fakes. I decided that they might still be useful — if one does not look too long through them. Just like with looking at the Sun in general — it makes afterimages. I also punched holes in some paper plates so I could use them as pinhole cameras.

Earlier today, I put the glasses, some books, some paper, my digital camera, my cellphone, and some other stuff into a bag and took a folding chair with me to my house’s front yard.

The sky was clear, with only a few wispy clouds near the horizon, and the time was 9:10 am PDT. I was just in time to see the entering partial phase begin. I used the eclipse glasses, careful to look only briefly, but the Sun through them was dark orange. It looked like it had a small bite out of it at 1 o’clock.

I watched for about an hour as the entering phase continued, and the bit expanded and became noticeably circular.

By 10 am, it was still noticeably daylight, but not as bright, and the Sun looked like a crescent. Both with my eclipse glasses and with my paper-plate pinhole camera. The leaves of a nearby tree also made a nice pinhole-camera effect. The paper-plate pinhole image was not as relatively faint as it had early been, and I could easily see my cellphone’s display when I shade it. Earlier, shading it could make it only borderline visible.

I very briefly looked at the Sun around then, and while it was still bright, it did not make an afterimage.

By 10:14 am, my surroundings were noticeably dark, even with a daylight pattern of illumination, and the Sun was now a sliver at 7 o’clock.

I decided that it was safe to look at the Sun, and it looks like a bright spot on a ring — the diamond-ring effect. When the “diamond” faded, then at 10:17 am, …

TOTALITY. The Sun looked like a black disk with a thick white ring around it. The disk being the Moon and the ring being the corona. The sky looked as dark as dark twilight, even if not as dark as late night.

It lasted for a few minutes, and I got some pictures of it. Then I saw the diamond-ring effect again, and I knew that it was no longer safe to look directly at the Sun.

I stuck around for the remainder of the eclipse, the exiting partial phase, watching it as it happened. The Sun appeared on the opposite side of the Moon, at 1 o’clock, and as the eclipse ended at around 11:30 am, the Moon was at 7 o’clock. I then returned to my house with my bag and folding chair.