Totality!

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alt-az-builder
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Totality!

Post by alt-az-builder » Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:32 pm

The total solar eclipse was fantastic -- and that is an understatement.

I viewed the eclipse with my AT 72 mounted on the Hitch Hiker at 18x using an ES 24 mm 82-degree eyepiece. The detail was incredible. The corona was laced with striations, spikes and sheets of different intensities -- some overlapping. The structure was very finely delineated. I could see at least four -- maybe five -- pinkish-red solar prominences. And it must have been Mercury just beyond the corona -- plainly visible. Just incredible!

I made two mistakes with my photography effort -- but a lot also went correctly -- and I learned a lot. One mistake resulted from being in a hurry in the rapidly-building darkness. I was not really prepared for how rapidly totality emerged from the last sliver of partial phase. Plus, I was trying to get both my scope and my camera ready for totality -- which meant that I was really scrambling. My STRONG priority was to visually observe the eclipse, and I considered the photography to be completely expendable. However, I did want to learn how to photograph the eclipse with simple equipment so that I can advise others in the future who might take the Hitch Hiker on far-flung eclipse adventures. Now I know EXACTLY how to do it.

The pre-focusing that I did a couple of days prior to the eclipse was worthless because I later realized that the focus ring is clutch-mounted -- and my focus mark was worthless. So, I had to refine my camera's focus during the partial phase of the eclipse using the solar filter that I removed from my scope. I had to use a bit of tape to get the filter to stay in place since it was a little large for my camera lens. But the focusing went well -- and I have some good photos of the partial phase.

However, I waited too close to totality to start removing the filter from the camera -- which contributed to my rush. In my hurry and in the near darkness, I set the middle shutter speed to 1/80 second instead of the 1/20 second that I intended. However, the bracketing that I set partially saved the day exposure-wise.

The other problem was that at the onset of totality, I could not see the edges of the frame through the viewfinder. I ended up placing the image very close to one edge -- and by the time the exposure sequence was started the image was clipped-off. Next time, I would mount a 6x30 illuminated-reticle finder on the finder-bracket. At the onset of totality, the image could have been quickly and precisely centered without any chance of error.

The automated program for the camera performed perfectly. I only spent maybe four or five seconds of totality launching the photo sequence -- and devoted virtually all of my attention to observing -- just as I had planned.

But all in all, it was a successful trip. The two Hitch Hikers I used (one being a slightly updated prototype) performed absolutely flawlessly. I'm now "hooked" on observing total solar eclipses -- and I now know how to take perfect photos of one using straightforward equipment, including the Hitch Hiker.

Charles
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alt-az-builder
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Re: Totality!

Post by alt-az-builder » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:04 am

Here's a photo of the partial phase.

Charles
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alt-az-builder
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Re: Totality!

Post by alt-az-builder » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:22 am

Here is part of the view from Union Pass. Where I was set-up has an elevation of about 9,400 feet. It got REALLY dark. The open range cattle started calling out. The temperature dropped nearly 20 degrees -- and got pretty chilly.

Charles
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alt-az-builder
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Re: Totality!

Post by alt-az-builder » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:24 pm

In this photo, a solar prominence is visible on the right side. A second solar prominence is barely visible on the left. Visually, I could see four or five prominences.

Charles
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alt-az-builder
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Re: Totality!

Post by alt-az-builder » Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:59 pm

Here's my equipment set up at Union Pass in Wyoming.

Charles
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