Only one week left until the total eclipse of the Sun on August 21, 2017.
I don’t know about you, but I am getting excited!
Here are my Top 10 Tips for Totality.
These are slightly modified from my Observing the Photographing the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse web page.
10. If it is your first total solar eclipse, don’t try to take pictures, just observe and experience the ethereal beauty of totality. Seriously. I’m not kidding! If you do plan to take pictures, totally automate your image capture so you don’t have to touch your camera or scope during totality. I had almost 7 minutes of totality in 1991 and I spent that entire time changing exposures and even changing film, and I looked up once briefly. I regret that to this day.
9. Plan where you are going to be. You MUST be inside of the path of totality to see the real deal. Outside of it you will only see a partial eclipse. Totality and the corona are the BIG deal. Have a Plan B for an alternate location to run to if it is cloudy or too smoky.
8. Give yourself a LOT of extra time to get to your observing location. Don’t think you can drive up at the last minute and pop out of your car and watch the eclipse as the roads may be jammed.
7. Be sure you use a safe solar filter during the partial phases for both visual use and photography of the partial phases. Do NOT look at the Sun with your naked eyes, or especially with binoculars or a telescope, if you do not have a safe solar filter during the partial phases. Once totality starts, and only during totality, it is ok, and safe, to look at the Sun with your unaided eye, or through binoculars, or through a telescope. But once the very first speck of photosphere re-emerges at the end of totality, you must put the filter back on.
6. If you take pictures, even with a wide-angle lens, put your camera on a tripod. Exposures will be long during totality, and if you try to hand-hold them, they will be blurry. If you plan to take pictures with a telescope or long telephoto lens and your exposures are going to run longer than about 1/15th of a second, you need to have an equatorial mount to compensate for trailing due to the Earth’s rotation.
5. Input accurate location and time information into your image acquisition automation software. Use your SmartPhone’s GPS to find your exactly location when you set up your camera and equipment where you will shoot the eclipse. Use NIST time server for accurate time.
4. Focus beforehand on infinity and tape it down. Turn off autofocus on camera lenses and focus manually. With a wide-angle lens just focus on something far far away. With a scope with a safe solar filter, focus on a Sunspot if any are visible, or on the edge of the Sun. Focus on the tip of the cusp of the partially eclipsed Sun one last time 5 minutes before totality begins in case the temperature has changed the focus.
3. Have an “Emergency” script loaded and ready to go in your image acquisition automation program in case you have clouds and only have a small hole in the clouds to shoot. If you have 15 seconds you should be able to shoot a full HDR sequence if you shoot in two-stop intervals. Start at 4 seconds so you get at least one frame of maximum corona, and go down to 1/1000th of a second for detail in the inner corona.
2. Don’t forget to take the filter off for totality! And replace it when totality ends.
1. Do NOT try to fix any last minute problems with your mount, camera, computer, software. I can absolutely guarantee that you will NOT get any problems fixed in 2 minutes and you will miss totality. Do not miss visually observing totality!
Good Luck to everyone!
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