Saturday, August 1, 2009

Solar Eclipse Prelude


This century's best total eclipse occurred on July 21, 2009.

This photo shows the moon rising to cover the sun to create night and is a partial eclipse. Night is this month's city daily photo theme.

I was very fortunate to obtain a very sharp photo right after first contact between the moon and sun. It almost looks like a spotlight.

We planned this solar eclipse trip over two years ago. The eclipse occurred over China and the South Pacific.

We opted to be on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean west of French Polynesia and north of the Cook Islands. The ship provided the important element of maneuverability, as there was a 50% chance of clouds that day. A ship allows you the chance to move to find a hole in the sky to watch the eclipse. We were at sea for five days to get to and from the location for the eclipse.

As it turned out, we did have clouds block the view and we all worried we would miss the eclipse, like so many people in China who had rain and clouds block the view. But, as first contact occurred, the ship moved to find a hole in the sky and we therefore were able to photograph and experience a once in a lifetime event.

We learned terms and concepts such as first contact, planet and shadow bands, Baily's beads, shadow cone, diamond-ring effect, corona, prominences, polar brushes, corona streamers, and chromospheric color changes.

Also, we had to use homemade solar filters to photograph part of the eclipse using Baader AstroSolar Safety Film at $45 for one 8.5 x 11 inch sheet. Dave of Costa Rica Daily Photo was in charge of making the actual filters to go over the camera lenses, which ended up working beautifully as you can see from today's photo.

I took this photo with my Nikon D90 camera using the solar filter Dave created and I manually focused the lens on the sun for sharpness instead of relying on infinity. I took photos at an aperture of 5.6 or 8, ISO at 400 because of the moving and rocking ship, and I would take photos at different shutter speeds throughout the event. I used a 70 to 300 mm Nikon telephoto zoom lens, but set just below 300 for maximum sharpness.

Over the next week, I will share a photo a day of the spectacular solar eclipse. I will share some of the astronomy terms and information that we learned, photos of the various phases of the eclipse, and photo tips. We learned a lot on this trip and it was our first solar eclipse since we made pinholes in cardboard to look at an eclipse many years ago when we were in elementary school.

The solar eclipse creating "night" took about two hours from start to finish and totality lasted over 3.5 minutes for us at our location. In some places it lasted up to 6 minutes. This is the longest period of totality for a solar eclipse until 2132.

Please check out City Daily Photo bloggers interpretations of the "Night" theme. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

16 comments:

Daily Chicago Photo said...

Amazing and beautiful! And such advance planning - two years! Really wonderful!

brattcat said...

It really looks like a paper moon. So crisp and well-defined. Beautiful, Julie, simply beautiful.

Babooshka said...

This is perfect. Excellent explanation too of how you took this. Very impressive photography.

Lois said...

What a spectacular shot Julie! I can't wait to see the rest of your pictures.

Jilly said...

Am just arriving here from David's photo, which is stunning. And now this utter beauty. What an adventure you two had. You photograph is simply marvellous and somehow poetic. Goodness, what an enormous amount you learned and thank you for sharing it. Will be back for more.

Sharon said...

Fantastic photo! And, I love your explanations and instructions. What an adventure the two you had!

Thérèse said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing and for the explanations.

Jarart said...

So interesting. Sounds like a wonderful trip.

Don and Krise said...

I'm happy you took the opportunity to see this (and share it with us). I also like your explanation of the settings used for the shot. Bring on the rest Julie!

Kaori said...

Wow, that is beautiful! We were able to see it here in Japan too :)

pasadenaadjacent said...

I probably know some of your friends. I recently visited an area on Mount Pinos near Los Angeles, which is incredibly popular with the astronomy crowd. They come up with the most amazing telescopes and allow us all a peek.

I look forward to more pics. Very informative
thanks

slinger said...

What a great back story for this photo. Two years in the making and a fitting theme day to show off the photos....

Slinger - Twin Cities

Marie-Noyale said...

A beautiful picture and even better with the explanation...
Must have been a great trip.

robert said...

Truly a piece of art.

Kate said...

This is really quite amazing. Lucky you to be able to plan and vacation to attend this event. Great explanation, too.

Nikki Beaumont said...

Really amazing shot! I am so glad that y'all were able to get to that hole in the clouds!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...