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Moments of the Central Eclipse, Wauseon, IN - USA       10 May 1994

Moments of the Central Eclipse, Wauseon, IN - USA       10 May 1994

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I made the effort to see this eclipse because it was relatively close to home. Wauseon, Ohio was at the point of maximum eclipse. Although someone calculated that the exact point was on a farm, I chose a church yard about a kilometer east of that location. The difference in duration of annularity was insignificant.

The sky was perfectly clear and the task, simple. This was a glorified partial eclipse. I had to keep the solar filter attached to the front of the lens and observe the eclipse with this protection at all times. All I needed to do was to mind the time.

The most interesting aspects of an annular eclipse are second and third contacts, the start and end of annularity. Lunar mountains and valleys produce points of sunlight on the trailing limb. In 1836, Francis Baily described this phenonemon in his report on an annular eclipse he observed from Scotland. Since then, astronomers refer to these points as Baily's Beads.

Francis Baily was one of a handful of amateur astronomers in the first half of the 19th century. Astronomy was then a true gentleman's pursuit, meaning that one needed to be wealthy or have a wealthy sponsor to do it unless he were employed by the government. Baily earned his wealth as a stockbroker who did breakthrough work in life insurance and annuities. He gained his fortune by diligence and integrity, enough for him to chase eclipses in a time when travel was very expensive. We should reflect on his example of being financially successful and honest at the same time.

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