Skip to main content

Annular Solar Eclipse, Fukushima

The Japanese word for “solar eclipse” is nisshoku, natively written 「日食」, which literally means “eating the Sun.” (The word for “lunar eclipse” is gesshoku, written 「月食」, which likewise means “eating the Moon.”) This morning in Sukagawa, Fukushima county, Japan, we managed to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse despite the cloud cover. Classes started early for Kashiwagi Elementary School, as students and faculty alike arrived to watch.
This sign advises students to look at the Sun’s shape by observing the shadows cast by trees, not by looking at the Sun itself.
The faculty set up this telescope for viewing the Sun as a projection onto a white card. Looking right into the telescope while it was aimed at the Sun, of course, would’ve been a horrible idea.
Here, students are watching the eclipse on TV in one of the first-grade classrooms, and this was when we thought we wouldn’t have a chance to see it for real thanks to the clouds in our area. The eclipse formed a perfect “O” down in Tōkyō. The crescent on the right side of the TV screen is, I believe, the view from Maebashi, Gunma county.

Then, however, a teacher announced that the clouds were breaking up outside. With that, students and faculty flooded out into the athletic field out back and …
 … lo and behold, there it was! We didn’t really need the Sun viewers being distributed to the students, since nature was providing us with a natural filter, albeit …
… one with this pesky habit of blocking the Sun ever so often.
  All this was going on before official school hours, and my official work day, as you can see:
But it was worth it:
There were announcements over the school P.A. system admonishing students against looking directly at the Sun without solar filters.
  At least we all got our chance to see it.
We have two more astronomical events coming up next month. There’ll be a partial lunar eclipse on June 4, peaking at 20:00, and a transit of Venus on June 6, running from 7:00 to 13:00. We’ll get to see them both, weather permitting, but June is the rainy month here in Japan, so “weather permitting” is a long shot at this rate. I guess we lucked out on the solar eclipse because it’s still May.

Update: So the weather wasn’t so permitting with the partial lunar eclipse on June 4, but I did catch the Transit of Venus on June 6 through breaks in the clouds that day.


Popular posts from this blog

Flat Earth Fun

When I was a toddler back in the early 1970s, I myself thought the Earth was flat. I thought we were living on this big lunch tray floating around in space, and I once had a dream of people jumping off the edge of that tray. I also remember watching someone performing on TV playing a piano on a platform moving through a slowly-moving star field, not realizing that he was just greenscreened in a TV studio. Then I saw an image of the planet Earth as a globe, but I thought it was a planet off in space somewhere else. It took me a while to realize that I was actually living on that planet and not some big floating lunch tray.
    As an adult going on fifty next year, I now know better. But YouTube has recently been suffering from a plague of flat earthers, delusional adults who really believe that the Earth is flat. Albeit instead of the rectangular lunch tray my toddler self thought we lived on, orthodox flat earthers believe the Earth is shaped like a vinyl phonograph record with the No…

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Nuke?

After the reactors at Fukushima First Power Plant here in Japan melted down in March of 2011, a wave of paranoia gripped Japan. Anti-nuke scaremongers had a field day, and opposition to nuclear power had become quite popular. Before a popular position is adopted, however, it should first be checked against the numbers to make sure it stands up to reality.   I’m not saying that nuclear power is entirely safe, and nothing ever is, but the dangers of nuclear power have always been blown way out of proportion. It’s understandable that people would be scared of nuclear anything, considering the horrific damage that nuclear weapons did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki back during World War II. It’s especially scary here, since this is the only country in history, so far, to get hit with nuclear weapons.   But is this fear justified when it comes to peaceful nuclear power? I don’t think so. Too many people look too much at the TV screens showing power plants going kaboom and not enough at the hard…

Thoughts on Heavy Metal

I grew up in the 1980s, a time when heavy metal (or more a popular imitation of it) became popular. I got to know big names like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, and I still love both those bands. Granted, the former have produced a few albums not worthy of their name, but the rest have been good, and Iron Maiden have never made an album unworthy of the Iron Maiden name. Along with those two greats have been “glam rockers” such as Mötley Crüe (pronounced “Murtley Cree” for those of you who don’t know how umlauts really change the sounds of vowels), bands that somehow think we all care about their sex lives.
Metallica gave me a welcome alternative to glam by introducing me to thrash metal. It was far more authentic as metal to me than glam rock. From there, it led me to other thrash metal bands. However, even thrash was sorely lacking, as it was just too political for my taste. Too many thrash songs sounded like news reports. If I wanted news, I’d read it off the internet. I now make fun o…