Nature’s Pinhole Camera Shade of a Locust

I stayed in Fort Collins, Colorado for the 2017 total eclipse of the sun. I didn’t feel at all deprived by missing totality. In fact, I found it to be a truly marvelous experience.

For better viewing of the ninety-two percent partial eclipse I setup a simple Bushnell sixty millimeter refracting telescope in the front yard. It’s the kind of telescope kids get as gifts, inexpensive and surprisingly versatile. With a cardboard shade around the big end, and a long focus on the eyepiece end, I managed to project a decent image of the sun beginning at about twenty percent shading. That was around eleven a.m. Mountain time.

The projected image measured about a foot across. As neighbors gathered around, we observed sun spots and all marveled at how fast the moon’s shadow ate away at the bright solar disk. At maximum, the eclipse reduced the sun to a slim crescent on my improvised projection screen. The air felt noticeably cooler for about fifteen minutes before and after. When the sun’s image was at its smallest, the light seemed almost ethereal. It was still bright, but dimly so, a very strange contradiction.

Nature’s Pinhole Camera in the Shade of a Locust

While I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience, the greatest surprise came about ten minutes after the maximum. I had walked into the back yard to check on the cats, when I noticed something odd that the dappled sunlight under our mature honey locust.

Looking closely I saw that the light falling through the many small locus leaves landed in the shape of the eclipsed sun. Hundreds of crescents of light lay scattered on the ground like glittering diadems. It was breathtaking.

Here was nature’s pinhole camera in the shade of a locust. Just look at what I saw.

Nature's Pinhole Camera on My Back Step

Nature’s Pinhole Camera on My Back Step

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Here’s another view, deeper in shade and with a white background.

Nature's Pinhole Camera in Deep Shade

Nature’s Pinhole Camera in Deep Shade

This view landed on a section of walkway made of red Breeze.

Nature's Pinhole Camera on a Red Path

Nature’s Pinhole Camera on a Red Path

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Ray N. Franklin

Owner, SF Writer at Big Leaf, LLC
Ray N. Franklin lives in Fort Collins, Colorado. He has been a software engineer, granola entrepreneur, and internet marketer. Now he edits palindrome anthologies at and writes science fiction. Find him on the Mastodon federation

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