flash spectrum ...photography by Robert B Slobins
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Corona, Chongqing - China       22 July 2009

Corona, Chongqing - China       22 July 2009</

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My original plans were to be with the Eclipse City group around Shanghai. However, the weather deteriorated markedly and Shanghai and other popular eclipse observing areas suffered from clouds. Shanghai suffered a heavy rainstorm during totality.

Eclipse City arranged on short notice transport and lodging at an alternate location: Chongqing. Chongqing was chosen as China's capital during World War II because the near-constant clouds and fog concealed the city from Japanese bombers. Most eclipse observers avoided this location. This day was different. I traded six minutes of darkened clouds for four minutes of darkened sun. I was not interested in having a perfect record broken.

Perfect preparation prevents poor performance. I define my objectives for each eclipse and plan and rehearse the program for a month. In this case, I had to change plans, but my preparation and experience enabled me to have successful results. Very few locations in China had a clear view of the eclipse.

We arrived in Chongqing under a clear sky. Morning saw increasing high clouds and we saw a 22-degree halo prior to totality. The high clouds started to dissipate, so we could not record a possible flash spectrum around the sun. The air pollution around this city of 33 million was the bigger issue. Analysis of my results show that I lost three stops--7/8 of available sunlight--because of smog. I could not acquire any spectra on film because of underexposure. However, I have a video of the spectrum showing that cooling the atmosphere cleared the sky enough for a view of the third contact spectrum.

This is a FITSWORK-processed image. There are processing artifacts; however, this is a good representation of totality as observed visually from Chongqing.

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