Wednesday May 23 2012
Stargazers gather to view astronomic event
'Ring of fire' solar eclipse occurred May 20
A crowd of 75 people gathered at the Colfax Depot Plaza to view a rare astronomic event from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday. All but two had traveled from afar ? and not-so-far away places such as Sacramento, Folsom and Georgetown ? to experience the solar eclipse. Catherine Ishida of Hawaii was among the observers. A professional astronomer ? formerly with Subaru Telescope in her home state ? Ishida said, ?This is an ?annular eclipse? as opposed to a total eclipse.? She explained that because the moon ?is at its greatest distance from earth in its elliptical path, therefore, it is not completely blocking the sun.? Ishida said recently graduated from a seminary in Berkeley and remained in California specifically for this event. She used a small viewing device with a strong ultraviolet filter to protect her eyes from the sun?s damaging rays. Alex Lee, a self-proclaimed astronomy fanatic from Oakland, had his high-quality camera set on a tripod and fitted with a special lens filter. ?I?m taking pictures at two-minute intervals to capture the event,? Lee said. An Orangevale man, Nik Luhrs, had fabricated a viewing box with a pinhole at one end projecting the eclipse onto a white paper and the far end. His inventiveness came when he cut a slot in the side of the box to insert his phone camera take photos to ?share with my friends who couldn?t be here,? he said. Lee and Ishida, along with several others, had taken Amtrak?s California Zephyr earlier that day to arrive at the plaza. ?Reno would have been ideal, but Colfax is much nicer and more convenient,? Lee said. The rail travelers returned to their home cities via the 7 p.m. Amtrak bus.