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The AstroArt of David A. Hardy
Hardy has travelled to eight eclipses, and seen six of them – both of the 'misses' being 9's: 1999 and 2009! Each one is different, dependent upon the position of the Sun in its sunspot cycle, which affects its corona, as seen here.
Eclipse Hawaii '91
In July 1991 the IAAA held a workshop in Hawaii, which coincided with a total solar eclipse. This painting of the eclipse over the crater of Halemaumau was done from photos and sketches on Hardy's return, and the original is now available for sale. (Oils on stretched canvas.) See Original Art.
Eclipse Chile '94 2
It was during the 1994 eclipse trip that Hardy met Brian May, guitarist with Queen but also (now) holding a doctorate in astrophysics. They became friends, and are still in touch, both also having links with Sir Patrick Moore. This is a composite of photographs taken by Hardy of the astronomers watching the eclipse, and a painting of the eclipse itself. Dr. May says that this captures the experience far better than any normal photograph he has seen. (Digital.)
Eclipse Chile '94
Hardy's next solar eclipse after Hawaii was in 1994, when he went to Peru and Chile. The eclipse was seen from the Atacama Desert, at an altitude on 4,500 metres, so altitude sickness was always a possibility; fortunately it did not affect him. Hardy says the location was the most spectaular of any eclipse he has seen: 7 ice-covered volcanoes, some emitting steam, and a very dark sky, while the eclipse was very bright (as was Venus). (Acrylics; private collection of Dr. B. May.)
Eclipse UK 1999
The solar eclipse of 1999 was widely heralded as being the only one visible from British soil. Hearing reports of crowds and inflated hotel prices in Cornwall, Hardy and his wife Ruth decided to take a cruise on the Black Prince, which would be between the Scilly Isles and the Channel Islands at the time of totality. This painting for Astronomy Now showed how it should look above St. Michael's Mount, seen from Marazion. But the cloud was much thicker, and few people saw the eclipse. . .
Eclipse Zambia '01
Zambia in 2001 gave the opportunity for Hardy's first visit to Africa, and also to fly over Victoria Falls in a helicopter! The accommodation, at a 'ranch', proved to consist of grass huts, but it was a unique experience and the eclipse itself was clearly seen in a dark sky, with the yellow-red effect of sunlight around the edges of the shadow, as as seen here. (Acrylics; private collection of R.P.M.Bizley.)
The Eclipse Watchers '10.j
Hardy has always been fascinated by the mysteries of Easter Island, so when he heard that there would be an eclipse there he had to go! However, seeing warnings of the crowded tiny island and inflated hotel prices he elected to go with Explorers, first to Tahiti, then to a tiny Pacific atoll called Hao for the eclipse, and from there to Easter Island. You can see some of his photos on Flickr (see Travels). Acrylics/digital.
When they learned that he was a passenger, Fred Olsen cruises commissioned Hardy to produce designs to be used on a T-shirt and also paperweights, to be sold aboard the Black Prince. Special Guests aboard were former Astronomer Royal Sir Arnold Wolfendale and Apollo astronaut Walter Cunningham, but Hardy was given almost equal treatment. In addition, the fee for producing the merchandise paid for the trip for Ruth and himself! This is the result (Digital).
For every eclipse he has been to, Hardy has designed a logo for a T-shirt (and sometimes paperweights, as in 1999). Here is the logo for the 2006 Sahara eclipse; it shows the track of the shadow across Africa, the eclipse above, and (of course) a photographer. Sometimes he did this just for himself or some friends; but at several, as here, he took some printed shirts with him and then took orders from others who wanted them. (Digital.)
Hardy did of course produce a T-shirt for the 2009 eclipse. He says: "I know this isn't a Chinese dragon, but I never paint a dragon with 4 legs and tiny wings – they're anatomically and aerodynamically impossible!" If dragons did exist, he says, they would be more like bats, with their forelimbs extended into wings. . . (Digital.)
Solar Eclipse Clock
This is one of several digital clocks produced by Hardy to order. He presented one to Sir Patrick Moore in 2007 on the 50th Anniversary of his TV programme The Sky at Night, for which Hardy had frequently provided art, and on which had also appeared 3 times. Available here.
The Stars – Eclipse
A lunar eclipse (when Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, and its atmosphere refracts red light, giving the Moon a coppery glow) would of course be visible from the Moon's surface as a solar eclipse. There are several such in the Moon section. This is the first painting of it by Hardy to be published, in The Stars by Colin A. Ronan in 1965. (Gouache.)
Eclipse from Moon
A more recent, digital version: an astronaut looks out over a lunar plain as the Sun passes behind Earth, forming an eclipse. Earth's atmosphere forms a 'ring of fire' – the sunset effect, as the air refracts and reddens the light of the Sun. (Digital; for The Sky at Night, BBC TV)
Since his first eclipse, Hawaii in 1991, Hardy has travelled to 8 – and seen 6: Chile in 1994, Venzuela in 1998, Zambia in 2001, the Libyan Sahara in 2006 and the South Pacific in 2010. The ones that got away were 1999 (a cruise near the Channel Islands) and 2009, China. Some excellent photos taken during some of these may be seen in Flickr and Jalbum.
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