By Melvin Ah Ching, Editor & Publisher, The Hawaii Files Blog
As solar eclipses go, yesterday’s partial one in Honolulu was adequately good. The Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017 was a huge phenomena and event throughout the continental United States as the path of totality traveled eastward in a narrow 70 mile wide band from the Oregon coast to the tip of South Carolina. Much of the continent had a good partial eclipse that covered most of the sun.
In a solar eclipse, the moon’s shadow blots out the sunlight as it passes between the sun and the Earth. During totality that shadow blocks out nearly all sunlight except for a narrow band around the perimeter that creates a remarkable and unforgettable view. Solar eclipses are rare occurrences that track within small and varied regions of Earth’s surface. Within the eclipse’s band, many areas get a partial eclipse while totality only occurs within a smaller zone.
Millions of people on the U.S. continent witnessed and captured images of the eclipse going into and out of totality including the 2 minute long phase of full shadowed coverage.
In Honolulu, my friend Lisa Davidson and I awoke early and trekked to the Waialae Kahala Beach Park an hour before sunrise to secure a good viewing spot that I scoped out the day before. Anticipating the eclipse, which started near Hawaii, Lisa and I both photographed the changing light around us as night receded into the new day. The rising sun was going to be in the eclipse process. I had to be prepared for that.
I had three cameras with me including my Canon 600D SLR with a 300mm lens set up on a tripod, Fujifilm HS10 EVF with a wide to long built in zoom lens, and a Samsung smart phone that can also do pictures. Lisa had her trusty little Samsung that she used to catch the “feel” of the moments. We both had protective eclipse viewers that I got last year from Bishop Museum. I used the 58mm screw on sun filter for the cameras to get eclipse images.
We were set. We waited. Talked. Photographed. The sunrise was pretty, but the clouds were getting in the way. I was wondering if the clouds would pre-empt my eclipse view.
Eclipse times for Hawaii from timeanddate.com.
Sunrise in Honolulu was at 6:11 am. Moonrise was 2 minutes earlier at 6:09am. The eclipse began at 5:50am before the sun rose. Everything was in motion for a good eclipse except for the clouds.
It was not until 7:16 am that I caught my first fleeting glimpse of the sun poking through the clouds. I fired the Canon for a continuous burst of images as the clouds slowly broke and the sun revealed its new face for a few moments. And then the clouds rolled back in.
I got a few images but I wanted more. My wish came true as the clouds slowly blew away and the eclipsed sun appeared again as I fired more frames off with the camera. I got my 20% or probably a little less than that. It was better than nothing and certainly better than the 10% that I got during last year’s eclipse from Magic Island.
I snapped more photos in the next 15 minutes of the waning spectacle.
Lisa was thrilled as she was able to see the eclipse through my camera’s LCD screen and the protective filters that allowed us to view the show with our own eyes. She was very thankful that I shared these moments with her.
By 7:30 in the morning the Hawaii eclipse was over. The sun was out, the day was bright and life would continue as it always does.
It turns out that this year’s solar eclipse is the last one to be visible in Hawaii until April 8, 2024, when another total eclipse will be viewable in the continental United States. The next total solar eclipse occurs in the southeastern Pacific Ocean and over the South American countries of Chile and Argentina on July 2, 2019.
Photos by Mel unless indicated.
You can get a decent shot out of your cell phone camera if you put one of those protective eye safety filters in front of your camera lens. Lisa did that and it got her this picture with the tiny sun chopped slightly to the bottom left.
KHON TV’s McKenna Maduli reports on the eclipse from Waialae Kahala Beach park not too far away from where we were. There are 3 clips embedded in this video composite.