Near the eclipse and on the radio
In Oakland, we weren’t in the path of total darkness for this afternoon’s annular eclipse, but we were close enough for there to be a noticeable effect. The path of total darkness passed to the north and east of us, going right through Eureka and Redding and Colfax. The sun dimmed, as if someone had pulled a shade, but we were outside. The temperature dropped 8 degrees and the westerly sea breeze died down. Here’s what it looked like at 6:32, just about the maximum.We had set up binoculars on a tripod, focusing the sun on a piece of paper. One of us held the paper, the other shadowed it and took a photo. A smaller image, but one that seemed a little sharper, from just 12 minutes before the 6:32 photo: And, once totality had passed, the crescent started moving around. Here it was at 6:42: The effects on AM radio were noticeable, as observed on a GE Superadio II, one of the best AM receivers that I have. Admittedly, the effects were hard to disambiguate from the usual late-afternoon effects, particularly on the upper reaches of the AM band. Even so, focusing on the lower part of the AM band, where “critical hours” don’t usually have so much of an effect, I was picking up stations that I usually pick up weakly, if at all: 540 and 630 from Monterey, 830 from Grass Valley, and 880 from Gonzalez.
Sacramento-area stations showed similar effects: 1320 and 1380, not received well here if at all, were coming in. KFIV (1360) from Modesto also made it in. The more powerful stations at 650 and 710 were like locals.
I might have expected more from up north, say Chico or Redding, but no such luck. Of course, one challenge I have in Oakland is that there are so many strong local stations, including a couple running digital sidebands, which splatter interference.
Even so, I reconfirmed observations I made during the 1994 partial eclipse, when I was living in Kansas City. The effects of a solar eclipse aren’t dramatic, but reception does seem to be enhanced and you might get some stations you normally wouldn’t get. This time, I didn’t expect (and didn’t get) Los Angeles, but regional reception certainly seemed to get a boost.