Fortunately my plan to photograph the stars moving around Polaris (well the earth spinning in such a way that the stars appear to move around Polaris from our perspective) was a success. The photo is looking across Fisherman’s Bay at the most scenic cluster of islets and SE Farallon, from left to right: Aulon Islet, Arch Rock, Chocolate Chip, and Sugar Loaf.
Aside from unobstructed views of the night sky, this has actuallybeen an interesting month for celestial events. We witnessed a partial annular eclipse on May 20th just before sunset. I had been watching the fog moving in and out throughout the day, and I was worried it would block our chances of seeing the eclipse, but actually it worked as a natural filter and made it easier to view. I set up a tripod and my long lens with a piece of welder’s glass tapped to the objective end to photograph the transit, and grabbed another welder’s helmet for others to look through. I was working out the exposure levels when I noticed a slight round sliver encroaching the bottom left corner of the Sun, “It’s Happening!” I yelled as I ran for the others. We thought it wasn’t going to happen for another hour, so everyone was spread out on the island finishing up their daily tasks. Eventually everyone was alerted and we gathered to watch the entire event, beers in hands and smiles on faces. An annular eclipse is when the Moon is too far away from Earth to completely block out the Sun, instead leaving a thin ring of fire around the Moon during the climax. Our location on the Farallones was just outside the alignment for seeing a complete ring, but the crescent Sun was still impressive. On June 5th an equally impressive and rarer celestial event will take place where Venus, the second planet from our star, will pass between Earth and the Sun. With the appropriate filters, or a pinhole camera, you can watch the tiny dot of Venus track across the surface of the Sun. This only happens twice in a lifetime. The first of our lifetime was 8 years ago, with the transit in June being the last; it won’t happen again for another 243 years, so it’s worth the effort to see.