Once around the sun in a figure of eight

Published date24 September 2022
Publication titleMix, The
In 2021 I mounted a pinhole camera on the west-facing deck of my Portobello home. Inside the camera was a single 4x5 inch glass plate coated with light-sensitive silver halide emulsion. Beginning on September 23, 2021, at 4pm precisely (5pm when summertime began), if the sun was visible in the sky, I opened the shutter for 20 seconds. At the winter solstice and autumn equinox, I opened the shutter for longer to record the apparent motion of the sun across the sky

My project ended this week. I dismounted the camera and took it to a makeshift darkroom in the laundry. Under red light, I removed the plate, popping it into a chemical bath to develop the latent image. After a few minutes, I shouted with delight. My year-long project to capture the solar analemma was a success!

The elongated figure of eight curve you can see in this week’s picture is called a solar analemma. The shape of the analemma you see depends on your location, the tilt of our planet’s...

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