As readers may have noticed, I am a moon watcher. Eclipses of either the sun or the moon had been a sort of passion throughout my life, ever since my late father woke me up at 3 o’clock in the morning on Saturday, December 19, 1964 for a total eclipse of the moon. I was just 9 years old and bought my first small telescope the next year from saved pocket money.
When living in the Middle East, moon watching became even more important for me as I tried to understand the Muslim calendar, in patricular the beginning and end of the holy month of Ramadan.
There was one remarkable occasion, on March 29, 2006, when a partial eclipse of the sun occurred in Kuwait. I had manufactured a simple camera obscura from a cardboard box which produced an image of the sun, already partially covered by the moon, on the tiled floor in the entrance hall of Kuwait University’s FOD. I showed the image to my friend, the former Dean of the Faculty, who was surprised as the light was not dimmed in the slightest way by the moon.
On June 6, 2012, a rare Venus transit occurred very early in the morning, which was best to be seen on the disc of the midnight sun in the Arctic. So, I was in Tromsø and I was well-prepared to observe it with the aid of my cardboard box. In the woods close to the building where I lived I looked for a proper place but I had forgotten one important tool: a white piece of paper for projecting an image of the disc of the sun through the little hole in the cardboard box. I realized that the forest floor wasn’t suitable for that. So, I did not see the transit and, honestly, I doubt whether I ever would have been able to see it with this primitive camera obscura.Continue reading