I didn’t really know what I was going to do when I pulled into the parking lot at Petroglyph National Monument outside Albuquerque, New Mexico on May 20, 2012. This was the day of the 2012 annular eclipse, and Albuquerque was essentially “ground zero,” being perfectly located -as far as the eclipse was concerned. Within an hour, the moon would pass directly in front of the sun, but it’s disk would be too small to block the larger solar disk behind it. Instead, it would create an annulus, a “ring of fire,” or sunlight shining from behind the lunar disk.
Problem was, it would still be too bright to look at, let alone point my video camera at. I was in the right place, but without the right equipment. I had arrived about an hour before totality, the point when the eclipse was at it’s maximum. The eclipse was just beginning, and I was counting on luck to show me what to do in that hour before the eclipse was at it’s maximum.
Well as luck would have it, plenty of locals had already gathered in the same parking lot, intent on viewing the eclipse -and they had brought equipment of their own. In particular, several people had brought binoculars -and by letting the sunlight pass through the binocular lenses and land on a nearby sign, they were able to accurately reproduce the disk of the sun on the surface of the sign. It was a simple matter for me to just stand back and film what they were doing, rather than obsess over doing anything myself.