On D-Day, Monday 21 August 2017, umbraphils and tourists installed their small observation stand. We escaped media and tourist madness by taking refuge on the shores of Lake Minatar (Nebraska).
Making a photo of solar eclipse is not difficult. There are two setups : one for the transitions of the moon before the sun, and another for the total eclipse.
During the transition phases, lasting about an hour each, the lunar disc covers only partially the sun, and special glasses must be worn to avoid blindness. A normal camera will not be able to take a good picture without filter. The DIY system is to use the eclipse googles filter and to put it in front of the camera lenses. If the diameter of the lens is larger than the piece of filter, cut a hole in a piece of cardboard to mask the rest. It is more comfortable to follow the sun the LCD screen than to point directly the sun in the camera visor. Use manual settings f/7+, adjust the pause time, around 1/400 depending on the amount of visible sun and the opacity of the filter. Adjust the focus to infinity and zoom in, look for the sun and gradually zoom in on it. Once the shooting is complete, cover the camera to prevent the sun from magnifying in the lenses and burning something inside.
During the total phase (about 2 minutes), you can’t see the sun but only the corona. You can watch it with naked eye and take a picture without filter. It is actually so sim that, depending on the camera you’re going to use and your settings, you might be approaching a 1/60 second limit, below which you need to use a tripod (or at least lean on a support) to avoid blur; Especially when using a large zoom.
With a smartphone, you can’t do much; I nevertheless made a rapid panorama during the totality, we see nevertheless the black disc. The panorama software was struggling stitching together the pieces as the light is dropping in real time.
It is a surprising sight, colors are looking strange, The solar corona is so beautiful. It’s a memorable experience, a good time shared with friends, good beers and a neat playlist. This whole thing reminds us in a beautiful way that we’re not much in this big universe.
Also, the number of eclipses until the end of times is limited : the moon’s orbit is drifting away from earth and at some point, the lunar apparent disc will not cover the sun’s surface anymore. In 600 million years, which isn’t that much on the scale of the earth’s existence. Next Eclipse in France : 2081. If i’m not dead I’ll go out and watch as I did today.