How many ways can you view the solar eclipse?

speccoll
Friday 20 March 2015

At 9:30 this morning, several of the special collections team took an early morning break, found a sunny patch of grass and experienced the solar eclipse; which reached about 95% of maximum in St Andrews. We had great viewing with only a few, wispy clouds in the sky; thankfully none of these were near the centre of attention.

Some of the Special Collections staff watching the solar eclipse – some being sure to not look directly at the sun for too long.

The innovative staff had come up with several ways to view the spectacle, including a stack of photographic negatives …

A stack of photographic negatives can work to block out much of the sunlight, but we recommend this be done with some caution of course.
A stack of photographic negatives can work to block out much of the sunlight, but we recommend this be done with some caution of course.

…the hallmark bright orange solar viewing glasses…

Very exciting views indeed.
Very exciting views indeed.

…and versions on the pin-hole camera projecting the light on to a bit of card.

Sunlight can be focused through a small hole in a piece of card and projected onto another card, although it can be difficult to get the focus just right.
Sunlight can be focused through a small hole in a piece of card and projected onto another card, although it can be difficult to get the focus just right.

Giving us all a further lesson in optics, we found that the sprocket holes on 35 mm film also acted as a lens and focus the eclipse as well.

Remember, your ‘pinhole’ does not have to be round, square sprockets seem to do the trick as well.
Remember, your ‘pinhole’ does not have to be round, square sprockets seem to do the trick as well.

And to top it all off, on our walk back to the offices we noticed the rays of light coming through the trees was also being focused on the adjacent building.

And our final viewing treat, focused light through the trees projected onto a building wall.
And our final viewing treat, focused light through the trees projected onto a building wall.

Rachel Nordstrom

Photographic Research and
Preservation Officer

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