Guest blog: 2012 annular eclipse from Bryce Canyon

Posted by Karri Ferron
on Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Eclipse viewers lined Bryce Point in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, to view annularity May 20. // All photos by Elisabeth Roen Kelly
Astronomy’s fantastic illustrator, Elisabeth Roen Kelly, traveled south from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, over the weekend to witness her first solar eclipse. She, like Senior Editors Rich Talcott and Michael Bakich, had perfect skies for this awesome celestial event. Here is her recap:

For many years, I’ve created diagrams and star charts of eclipses for Astronomy magazine. But on Sunday, I had the opportunity to experience one live for the first time.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, was a spot where people from all over the world, including myself, gathered to watch the annular solar eclipse of 2012. What a splendid and strange event it proved to be!

Many of us in the park moved up to Bryce Point to view the eclipse. This narrow, jutting strip of land plummets on all sides but one, and for miles you see this glorious, vast canyon filled with striated red and white protrusions. Around 6 p.m., a crowd started to gather, assembling telescopes alongside the rocky bank.

Astronomy illustrator Elisabeth Roen Kelly witnessed her first solar eclipse with her husband, Jim, amid the spectacular scenery of Bryce Canyon.
Gradually, the light began to change. The intense blue sky grew darker, and the Sun felt hot and full of streaming rays of light. We put on our special sunglasses, and, sure enough, we saw the Moon starting to pass across the Sun. I looked behind me, to the east, and I could see that the light on the canyon red rock formations glowed and the shadows were slightly out of focus. Darkness fell quickly, and the air became cool. Back to the west, the Moon centered on the Sun, creating what is commonly called “the ring of fire.” Applause and whistles broke out as the audience expressed gratitude for the great show. Slowly, the Moon moved over, and the light came back on.

My husband and I caught a ride back to the park lodge with two amateur astronomers. One of them was planning to go into the canyon later in the evening to take even more pictures of the sky. The night sky at Bryce Canyon is heaven for astronomers. It is dazzlingly clear, filled with millions of shining lights, and begs for exploration.

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