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The Solar Eclipse Megamovie Project

solar dslr astrophotography
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#1 DaveProsper

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 04:24 PM

Hi there! The Eclipse Megamovie Project needs help in taking high-quality photos of the upcoming total solar eclipse over North America on August 21, 2017 (this is similar in some ways to the Citizen Cate project, and there is cooperation between the two teams for sure!) This project is a joint venture with the Berkeley Space Sciences Lab and Google, with some help from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, where I work. 

 

The general idea is that photographers along the path of totality can take pictures of the eclipse with their DSLRs and share them as soon as possible with the Megamovie team to assemble a movie of the eclipse detailing the changes in the corona and chromosphere of the sun as the eclipse take space across North America. The photos will also be useful in studies of the sun's magnetic field and plasma, helping out  with valuable visual data for space weather  and heliophysics- but also, frankly, the pictures and movie will look really cool, too! 

 

The project is hoping to recruit 1500 volunteers to photograph the eclipse with their equipment, and I hope the folks here at Cloudy Nights may be interested. We sent out a press release a few weeks ago, and the main website is now live and accepting applications at eclipsemega.movie

 

The main requirements for equipment are:

  • Camera: DSLR (digital single lens reflex)
  • Telephoto or zoom lens: minimum focal length of 300mm
  • A stable and level tripod
  • Ability to identify the GPS coordinates and time to the nearest second

I can answer your questions about the project here, and if I don't have the answer off hand I can also ask the folks I work with at the ASP. And my apologies in advance if I can't respond immediately - my duties at work keep me super busy, but I'll try to be on here as much as I can. Thank you!


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#2 SteveRosenow

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Posted 15 April 2017 - 04:48 AM

I have applied to be a part of this project. I have GPS-capable Nikon DSLRs, and I will be down in Madras, OR for the eclipse.

I'll be capturing it via two telescopes and Nikon full-sky setup. 


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#3 andyrud

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Posted 16 April 2017 - 11:17 AM

How soon is "as soon as possible"?   We will be near Mitchell, OR with similar equipment you suggest, but, no internet available.  

 

Andy R



#4 DaveProsper

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 11:07 AM

Great question- and one that applies to me since I'll be a n the middle of Wyoming and suspect I'll be far away from internet access as well. So in our cases, "as soon as possible" means whenever you find internet access again- preferably a few hours later, but up to a week later is okay too. Later submissions won"t make it into the rough live streamed "draft copy", so to speak, but will be part of the final movie.

How soon is "as soon as possible"? We will be near Mitchell, OR with similar equipment you suggest, but, no internet available.

Andy R



#5 u2pilotjt

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 05:33 PM

I'm trying to sign in via the link on the web site and it doesn't work.  A window appears to "try" to open quickly and then closes.

 

Am I doing something wrong?

 

JT



#6 u2pilotjt

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 05:37 PM

I'm trying to sign in via the link on the web site and it doesn't work.  A window appears to "try" to open quickly and then closes.

 

Am I doing something wrong?

 

JT

Disregard.  I tried a different browser and it's working.



#7 Exo

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 06:33 PM

Great question- and one that applies to me since I'll be a n the middle of Wyoming and suspect I'll be far away from internet access as well. So in our cases, "as soon as possible" means whenever you find internet access again- preferably a few hours later, but up to a week later is okay too. Later submissions won"t make it into the rough live streamed "draft copy", so to speak, but will be part of the final movie.
 

How soon is "as soon as possible"? We will be near Mitchell, OR with similar equipment you suggest, but, no internet available.

Andy R

 

 

The probability of cell site congestion or cellular network outages within the path of totality is extremely high.

 

The eclipse totality paths from Nashville to Charleston, and from Salem OR to the Pacific, are probably going to see major cellular network problems.

 

Also, speaking from experience, some areas in the western states crossing the totality path have never had very good cell coverage... even on a good day.

 

Don't expect 4G fast connections anywhere in the totality path on the morning or early afternoon of the eclipse frown.gif

 

Simple SMS texting (ancient phone text messaging) may get through in some locations where cellular network outages occur.

 

gallery_271931_7395_54017.jpg


Edited by Exo, 17 April 2017 - 06:36 PM.


#8 Exo

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 06:38 PM

I'm trying to sign in via the link on the web site and it doesn't work.  A window appears to "try" to open quickly and then closes.

 

Am I doing something wrong?

 

JT

The same thing happened here.

  • Disable all pop-up ad blocking.
  • Disable cookie managers.
  • Whitelist google subdomains and whitelist the https://eclipsemega.movie/ URLs.

Then sign in again.


Edited by Exo, 17 April 2017 - 06:44 PM.


#9 SteveRosenow

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 07:16 PM

So I just discovered that one of my DSLRs is incapable of GPS. Apparently, Nikon nixed the GPS feature in the D5500.

Seeing as how I have a GPS-capable Nikon D5100, (and that both the D5500 and D5100 will be imaging the eclipse simultaneously) I presume that it would be acceptable to use the GPS data of the D5100's files, in the D5500's, right?

 



#10 DaveProsper

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 10:10 PM

Thank you Exo! Hopefully this helps a few other folks who have had issues signing in.

The same thing happened here.

  • Disable all pop-up ad blocking.
  • Disable cookie managers.
  • Whitelist google subdomains and whitelist the https://eclipsemega.movie/ URLs.
Then sign in again.


#11 DaveProsper

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 10:19 PM

If both of your cameras are in the same spot then the GPS data can indeed work for both sets of images.

Another option is a GPS add-on for your camera. Nikon makes one that is a bit pricey at around $250 (GPS-A), but there are other GPS tagging accessories from Marrex and Promote that are much cheaper and may work with your model Nikon quite well too-but double check their compatibility and reviews first, of course!

I grabbed this bit of handy info from the Megamovie folks about GPS tagging:

How can I identify the GPS coordinates for the images I submit?
Some modern cameras have a built-in system to tag images with the GPS coordinates for the location where you take the images are taken. If your camera does not have this, then you have a couple of options:
Use an add-on GPS device to tag images with their coordinates.
An external GPS unit which reads out your coordinates to enter into the website when uploading images.
Alternatively, though less accurately, you can find the coordinates on Google Maps when uploading images.


So I just discovered that one of my DSLRs is incapable of GPS. Apparently, Nikon nixed the GPS feature in the D5500.

Seeing as how I have a GPS-capable Nikon D5100, (and that both the D5500 and D5100 will be imaging the eclipse simultaneously) I presume that it would be acceptable to use the GPS data of the D5100's files, in the D5500's, right?


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#12 andyrud

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 01:29 AM

What images of the eclipse do you want?  How many images? What spread of images,  I expect to take over 60 images from the beginning of totality to the end?  ALSO, my photos will be in RAW format, is this ok?  Sorry for so many questions but we might as well get them all out now.

 

Thanks in advance,

Andy R



#13 DaveProsper

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 10:22 PM

Another good set of questions! Let's see:

 

  • What images of the eclipse do you want? - The project wants pictures of totality, and with a wide enough field to see the corona, and detailed enough to see some fine detail in the corona and chromosphere. there is some interest in getting Bailey's Beads as well, but the primary interest is in mapping the space weather around the sun, so to speak.
  • How many images/what spread of images? As many as you can take, over the entire course of totality! 60 should work very well, but if you have some issues and can only get a few, that is fine too of course. We'll take what you can successfully snap!
  • Is RAW format ok? Yes, it is! There is an interesting history behind what file formats were referred, and at first the project just wanted JPG images, but now that the team is getting the server and software worked out they have found that they can accept more formats - even allowing .zip files of all of your images ot ease the process of submitting your photos.

No worries about asking too  many questions, that's why I'm here smile.gif  On a related note, funnily enough I found that the FAQ is hard to find on the desktop version of the Megamovie site (at least for myself), but the mobile version is very easy to find. and here is the link: https://eclipsemega.movie/faq

What images of the eclipse do you want?  How many images? What spread of images,  I expect to take over 60 images from the beginning of totality to the end?  ALSO, my photos will be in RAW format, is this ok?  Sorry for so many questions but we might as well get them all out now.

 

Thanks in advance,

Andy R



#14 Exo

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 11:34 PM

From the Eclipse Mega Movie website FAQ:

 

Can I mount my camera on my telescope?
Mounting the camera piggyback on a telescope is also acceptable, though it will require additional considerations:

 

Many of us will be attempting to automate as much of the imaging as possible, so that we can enjoy the "eclipse experience".

 

Camera orientation compensation...

For those of us using an EQ motorized tracking mount and shooting through a telescope, we can set our camera orientation by pre-aligning it, to achieve best horizontal camera image level at the predicted mount position for time of totality. That is feasible when shooting through the telescope on a mount, because the camera body can be twisted around.

 

But simply attaching a DSLR camera body to a bolted-on piggyback, direct mount, or side-by-side mount, might require a gimbal of some sort, or post-processing. Perhaps a camera ball mount head might be the solution...  a stout ball head for a DSLR with a >300mm lens... pointing inaccuracy creeps in. hmmm.

 

Has someone already solved the EQ piggyback camera orientation gear and setup issue? 

Is there such a gimbal that is easily transportable?

 

Are there image guidelines or targets we should try to meet for the project standard, such as:

  1. Field of view? 4.5 degrees? for horizontal dimension / vertical dimension? 
  2. Is rectangular format needed? 
  3. Desired aspect ratio? 4:3, 3:2, 2:1, 16:9? Is 1:1 aspect ratio OK? circular OK?
  4. Desired density, pixels/dimension, or pixels/degree?
  5. Would post-processing of our images to meet the project's leveling and framing standard be acceptable for submission?

Sorry about rambling on. Just thinking out loud here, while trying to plan for it smile.gif


Edited by Exo, 19 April 2017 - 02:30 AM.


#15 DaveProsper

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 03:27 PM

You got to my knowledge limit on the exact details on what I now for the project! I'll ask the folks at the Megamovie and get back to you when I get some exact answers. Thank you!

 

From the Eclipse Mega Movie website FAQ:

 

Can I mount my camera on my telescope?
Mounting the camera piggyback on a telescope is also acceptable, though it will require additional considerations:

 

Many of us will be attempting to automate as much of the imaging as possible, so that we can enjoy the "eclipse experience".

 

Camera orientation compensation...

For those of us using an EQ motorized tracking mount and shooting through a telescope, we can set our camera orientation by pre-aligning it, to achieve best horizontal camera image level at the predicted mount position for time of totality. That is feasible when shooting through the telescope on a mount, because the camera body can be twisted around.

 

But simply attaching a DSLR camera body to a bolted-on piggyback, direct mount, or side-by-side mount, might require a gimbal of some sort, or post-processing. Perhaps a camera ball mount head might be the solution...  a stout ball head for a DSLR with a >300mm lens... pointing inaccuracy creeps in. hmmm.

 

Has someone already solved the EQ piggyback camera orientation gear and setup issue? 

Is there such a gimbal that is easily transportable?

 

Are there image guidelines or targets we should try to meet for the project standard, such as:

  1. Field of view? 4.5 degrees? for horizontal dimension / vertical dimension? 
  2. Is rectangular format needed? 
  3. Desired aspect ratio? 4:3, 3:2, 2:1, 16:9? Is 1:1 aspect ratio OK? circular OK?
  4. Desired density, pixels/dimension, or pixels/degree?
  5. Would post-processing of our images to meet the project's leveling and framing standard be acceptable for submission?

Sorry about rambling on. Just thinking out loud here, while trying to plan for it smile.gif


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#16 Exo

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 06:23 PM

A common 10 Megapixel camera image is 3872 x 2592 pixels.

It has an aspect ratio of 3:2.

 

A 4K type video image is 3840 x 2160 pixels.
It has an aspect ratio of 16:9.

 

To fit a 3:2 image into the 16:9 video, it needs to be either:

  • scaled-down (shrunk)
  • cropped (top/bottom chopped off)

If it is shrunk, scaled-down to 83%, it will fit in the video frame. There will be some dead space in the video, on the right/left of the image, and it will lose some resolution.

 

If cropped, it will fill up the entire video frame, but lose picture information at the top and bottom of the image.

 

gallery_271931_7395_278613.jpg


Edited by Exo, 19 April 2017 - 06:34 PM.


#17 DaveProsper

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 07:13 PM

Just got a response from the Megamovie folks on some of these questions! They don't have the answers fully fleshed out yet but will be updating the FAQ very soon, along with some more information. They also have a very active Google Group for participants with some great back and forth on shooting ideas, tech specs, and so on. 

 

Here is the answer I got from Brian (timely, especially re: Exo's last post!):

 

We have an update coming soon to the FAQ with answers to many of these questions.  We also anticipate these will form the basis of some of the discussion during the first training webinar in May.

 

Other great questions we hope to address include:

  • Full frame vs. crop sensors and the optimal focal length of the zoom/telephoto lens for imaging
  • Shooting through a telescope vs. using a zoom/telephoto lens
  • Piggyback mounting on a telescope vs. on a tripod

 

So, the full answers are soon to come, but not quite available yet.


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#18 SteveRosenow

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 07:41 PM

This may be a silly question, but upon applying there was mention of some sort of patch or pin. When does that arrive?

 


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#19 DaveProsper

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 04:53 PM

Hi Steve! Unofficially I believe the pins/patches will be ready by in the next month or two. I want mine myself! grin.gif



#20 CCDMan

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 06:15 PM

Interesting project, I will have to look into it. I am one of the fortunate few. My home roll-off sits under the path of totality with 1 minute 18 seconds. High desert so chances of clear are very good. No connections worries either, of course. I plan to have my Canon 5D III on the back of an FSQ, with filter for early and late phases and then removed for totality.


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#21 Exo

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 06:17 PM

On the Eclipse Mega Movie team forum, there have been basic guidelines and some answers posted about Field Of View, cropping, orientation, techniques, and framing of the images. 

 

Here are some basics, subject to change or clarification by the team:

 

  • Photographs should be in Landscape orientation, and level to earth's horizon. 
  • Level horizon means that equatorial mount (EQ or GEM) users will need some type of camera orientation gimbal such as: slippable collar for mounting a camera by its lens (not body), slippable telescope rings for piggybacking a body-mounted camera on a telescope, or a rotatable T-ring mount image back on a telescope, rotatable eyepiece projection interface, etc.
  • Maximum Field of View in the photographic image vertical (short) dimension should be 4.5 degrees.
  • Minimum Field of View in the vertical (short) dimension should be 1.5 degrees.
  • Time or time-stamp accuracy to nearest 1 second is needed.
  • The movie video editors will attempt to scale, crop, and rotate all the submitted photographic images to a best fit for a "uniform solar disk" size template in the video frame of the movie.

Here are 2 graphic illustrations showing the recommended:

  • Maximum Field of View
  • Minimum Field of View
  • Framing of the Image
  • Size of the Disk of the Sun for relative measurement
  • Orientation of the Camera

 

The first illustration is for 16:9 wide frame camera settings.
The second illustration is for 3:2 normal frame camera settings.

 

gallery_271931_7395_163226.jpg

image B.Crystal: used by permission

gallery_271931_7395_203955.jpg

image: B.Crystal, used by permission


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