Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Gratuitous post about the eclipse

Eclipses don't really have much to do with house building, even if if it is an annular eclipse. Annular eclipses are are far from annual. Unless you travel around looking for them, they are a once-in-a-lifeime experience. Like building a house? Still gratuitous.

So, I set up my tried and tested eclipse-projecting technology, which puts the sunlight through a pin-hole, then uses a mirror to reflect the image onto a wall in the house. The tricky part is working out where the sun is being projected in the house, as it's much fainter than anywhere in the sun, so you have to close all the other curtains anyway, and actually go back into the house to find where it is projecting, then go out again to adjust it. You always think you can just look in the window and see where it is, but usually you can't. If you have somebody inside helpfully directing you left or right, up or down, that helps, but usually people just look at you with utter confusion. 

Anyway, here are some projections.

Sure enough, the eclipse started around 6:15 and reached it's peak around half past seven. Our house is about a mile away from the line with an annular eclipse. It was close enough to see that the moon's shadow is smaller than the sun. Just a little further South East and we would have seen a complete ring. This information was all made available on a website, into which you could put your location and it would give you precise times, to the second, when the eclipse would start, when totality would start, if at all, when it would peak, and so on. Next to each time was a percentage of eclipse. This time something like 94%. Although the light was very thin and eerie at only 6% of the sun's full power, it was still very bright. There was no way you would look straight at it. This shows how very bright the sun is, which I suppose is something relevant to house building. 

We had the blinds down and the house was darker than it usually is, although probably not as dark as the old house we were in. This goes to show how quickly people get used to living conditions. 

Here's an interesting effect with crescent shadows from my hands.

The other thing that does have a profound bearing on housebuilding is the exact predictability of the position of celestial objects. The local castle has a moon viewing room, clearly designed and placed to view the moon, which is as reliable in its movements as the mountains around are in their staticity. In fact the moon is probably a lot more reliable than the mountains, which are constantly being eroded and have their tops blown off from time to time. The sun is also absolutely predictable, so there is absolutely no excuse for not positioning the house and its windows in such a way that you will optimise all the heat and light that it produces.

The next one to pass this way is due in thirty years. Or was it three hundred? I can't remember, but someone somewhere knows the exact time and place.