October 2014 Partial Eclipse
On Thursday October 23, 2014, most of North America was treated to a partial solar eclipse. A partial eclipse is when the moon’s alignment between the earth and sun only blocks a portion of the sun from the view point of an observer on Earth. For those of us along the Eastern seaboard of the U.S., we only saw a few minutes of the eclipse just before sun set.
A group of Raleigh Astronomy Club members attending the Fall Staunton River Star Party gathered to watch the eclipse from the Northwest side of the observing field. The telescopes being used were a Hydrogen-Alpha PST (Personal Solar Telescope), a 102mm Celestron scope with a white-light solar filter that was dedicated to imaging and a 102mm Explore Scientific with a white-light solar filter (tinted orange) for visual observing.
At approximately 5:58pm we saw first contact of the moon’s edge with the solar disk. Sun spot AR2192 complex, a series of sun spots that is almost 78,000 miles wide, could also be seen during the eclipse. However the highpoint of the eclipse was the lucky and completely random alignment of our set up to see a passing airliner fly right thru our field of view and across the disk of the sun.
By about 5:12pm the sun began to set behind the Loblolly pine trees that encircle the observing field and we prepared for a wonderful night of observing.